File photo.

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Council members Al Austin who represents the Eighth District and Suzie Price who represents the Third District, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

Recently the Long Beach City Council went on record supporting safe work environments for all workers in Long Beach’s hospitality industry, and in support of workers’ rights to collectively bargain for wages and work conditions if they chose to join a union. Additionally, the City Council called on the hospitality industry to work with our Police Department to ensure that they have the best security plans in place to protect all workers and guests.

Rarely does the City Council make such a strong statement in support of collective bargaining for a private industry. But we believe that Long Beach’s hospitality industry would be well served by having employees represented in a constructive dialog with the management to address wages, terms and work environment.

This vote came on September 19 amidst heated debate with conflicting and often unsubstantiated information connecting workloads with the safety of employees in Long Beach’s major hotels, when an ordinance was proposed to effectively make the City force union policies on private companies.

From this debate, a majority of the Council believe that it is not sound public policy for the City to adopt a proposed ordinance that arbitrarily imposed one-size-fits-all workload standards on one industry without a clear rationale or data as to how those standards were derived and would improve safety. There were also significant questions on how the proposed policy could have impacted public privacy concerns with its requirement that hotels keep individual records on guests. Furthermore, these policies would have lacked any real enforcement, meaning an employee or third party would have to take a hotel to court themselves.

Long Beach’s hospitality industry is booming. Our City continues to be a strong draw for tourists, conventions and other visitors. Hotel occupancy rates far exceed national averages. Long Beach’s tourism is vital to ensuring a robust economy for the entire City, and the employees in our hotels play an important role in that success.

But, if our City’s tourism business is going to continue to succeed, the hotel management and employees need to work together in a cooperative manner, rather than engaging in antagonistic rhetoric and tactics that just push them further apart.

Major progress on this has been made. In the past five years three major hotels in Long Beach’s downtown have entered into collective bargaining agreements with the UNITE HERE union. These agreements have already paid dividends in attracting new conventions and banquet business to these hotels, while protecting the rights of employees and establishing good wages.

The heated debate at the City Council was mired in conflicting information and unanswered questions. By standing behind a resolution in support of safety and the right for collective bargaining, we hope all sides on this issue can get past the divisive rhetoric and engage in constructive dialogue for the benefit of all of Long Beach.