Long Beach hotel workers scored a major victory with the passage of Measure WW, and now city officials will be tasked with figuring out how a similar ordinance expected to be approved by the City Council on Tuesday will come into play.
The citizen-led initiative, which garnered nearly 62 percent of the votes, will require hotels with 50 or more rooms to supply workers with panic buttons. It also places limits on the amount of space that can be cleaned per shift.
The other ordinance, which has caused division among the council, only requires that all hotels in the city provide hotel workers with panic buttons.
City Attorney Charles Parkin said what the City Council ordinance will do is capture any hotels that are exempt from Measure WW.
“If the council next Tuesday approves the second reading of it, we’ll have two ordinances,” said Parkin.
That means that all hotels in the city will need to provide panic buttons for workers, but only hotels with 50 or more rooms will be prohibited from requiring employees to work overtime unless they consent, and workers in larger hotels will be exempt from cleaning more than 4,000 square feet of space in any eight-hour workday. The exemptions for unionized hotels will also only apply to larger hotels.
Parkin said if the mayor signs the ordinance into law the following Wednesday, then it will go into effect 31 days after that.
The ordinance may go into effect at the same time as Measure WW, which still needs to be certified by the county, a process that takes a few weeks, before the city clerk puts the measures on the City Council’s agenda for approval. The approved ordinances would then go into effect 10 days after the council certifies the election results.
At least 11 of the city’s 58 hotels already require their housekeepers to wear panic buttons, according to an economic impact report released by the city last month.
That report also estimated that Measure WW could cost the city millions of dollars in lost revenue due in part to the change in work requirements—the measure will limit workers to cleaning about 10 rooms a day, compared to the approximately 15 rooms a day—and the potential to jeopardize future hotel projects.
The City Council ordinance, which was brought forth in September, caused a schism between its nine members. Four of them—Lena Gonzalez, Jeannine Pearce, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson—walked out twice during votes on the ordinance in the past couple of months in protest. They have been in support of Measure WW ever since a similarly proposed ordinance last year called Claudia’s Law failed.
Council members who opposed Claudia’s Law called it politically motivated and benefiting their union backers.
However, the measure may not necessarily translate to more unionized hotels. Seattle’s hotel ordinance, which most closely reflects Long Beach’s, did not see any new collective bargaining activity since its adoption in 2016, according to last month’s report.
The city council is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 in the Council Chamber at City Hall, located at 333 W. Ocean Blvd.
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