Local 483 Workers Adopt 6-Year Contract Strategy

Pacific Grove, CA. May 26, 2015 — The pattern was set in January of this year by their Union, UNITE HERE Local 483. This plan has been agreed to at the Hilton Garden Inn, Old Capital Club, Hyatt Regency Monterey, Highlands Inn, and now Asilomar Conference Grounds.

Seeking job security, benefits, and opportunity, Local 483 have opened early for the first time five major contracts, which were set to expire in the summer. These agreements cover close to 800 workers and use a new plan referred to as a “Bucket Approach”.

This pathway provides a set annual dollar amount agreed upon by the parties and amounting to $5.05 over the period of the agreement. Each year the Union makes the sole choice of how much to allocate to provisions of the contract. For example, in August 2016, the parties agreed to +$.085/hour. Members could decide to put $0.40/hour to wages, $0.40/hour to insurance, and +$0.05/hour toward their retirement plan.

The Union’s negotiator Leonard O’Neill stated, “It’s a unique opportunity for labor peace while providing members with more flexibility and control over their annual monetary destiny”. O’Neill also noted that the Union is negotiating with a new food service company at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which covers over 50 workers.

He also noted that in Santa Cruz, the Union secured a 5-year agreement after a 2-day strike. The Strike only saw 1 worker, out of 105, cross the picket line.   The pact includes an increase in wages of +$1.75/hour, a $600/$300 bonus, additional paid holiday, new health plan with family coverage after 1 year, and a pension funds increase of 11%. Workers will also have a chief shop steward, and a record showing their vacation and sick leave accrual in their paychecks. Dream inn Strike photo dream inn strike

UNITE HERE Local 483 represents over 1,200 Hospitality workers around the area.

 

Local 483 Marches for Martin Luther King Jr. day!

Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr  was assassinated while speaking at a rally in support of striking workers? King had travelled to Memphis, Tennessee in February of 1968 to show solidarity with the labor movement– specifically with African American sanitation workers who had staged a walkout in protest of unequal wages and working conditions. Although MLK was best known for his role in the struggle for civil rights, he was also an important person in labor history. Every year we are proud to march in Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor and join the Monterey Peninsula community in remembering a hero.

This year we were joined by some of our friends in the political arena- United States Congressman Sam Farr, State Senator Bill Monning, Assemblymember Mark Stone, Supervisor Jane Parker, and Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio- and we made it on TV! 

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Congratulations to Local 483 Newly Elected E-Board and Officers!

On Wednesday, October 30, Local 483 members elected our union’s new Executive Board and Officers for the term 2013-2016. Hector Azpilcueta, our former Vice-President, will be taking over as Secretary Treasurer! We are looking forward to working toward Hector’s vision of organizing and building power for the future. We are also thrilled to welcome Chuck Smith, groundskeeper from Asilomar, as our new Vice-President! Chuck has demonstrated outstanding commitment and dedication to our union, both inside and outside of his hotel. It is a privilege to have him.

Also new to the Local 483 leadership are Julie Pizzo, barista/bartender from the Lodge at Pebble Beach, Jesus Gonzalez, room service server from the Highlands Inn, and Bertrand Deprez, banquet server at Pebble Beach Company. Julie, Jesus, and Bertrand have all been on picket lines, sat in negotiations, and volunteered their time to support Local 483 and the causes we care about. We are so excited to have them! Our returning Executive Board members and Officers have also done much to move the union forward; thank you for your service and welcome back, Julianne Brooks, Chizuko Calhoun, and John Allioti. We can’t wait to see what’s next! Congratulations to the following individuals:

President: Sergio Rangel
Vice-President: Richard “Chuck” Smith
Secretary Treasurer: Hector Azpilcueta

Executive Board:

  • Julianne Brooks
  • Julie Pizzo
  • Jesus Gonzalez
  • Chizuko Calhoun
  • John Allioti
  • Bertrand Deprez

Recording Secretary: Cyndee Hauer

Trustees:

  • Leonard O’Neill
  • Julius “JR” DeVera
  • Wannee Aumumphai

ObamaCare needs an Equality Fix

ObamaCare Needs an Equality Fix: Click for 2-minute Video!

Q&A: Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Q: Which part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects UNITE HERE members?

A: The law requires that all individuals purchase coverage by 2014 or face a penalty. Those offered affordable coverage by their employers may continue to receive it. In order to make health care more affordable and accessible, the ACA requires states to establish health insurance market­places called exchanges. ACA offers a subsidy to certain individuals to offset the cost of this insurance. Households with annual incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line ($23,000-$92,000 for a family of four—like those of many UNITE HERE members) — are eligible.

Q: What is the concern?

A: The concern is that UNITE HERE’S Taft-Hartley health plans are not addressed in the law, specifically when it comes to accessing the subsidies. We have deep concerns that:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ hours below 30 hours a week to avoid health care obligations.

Second, the ACA, as interpreted by the Obama Administration, excludes participants in non-profit health plans such as ours from receiving subsidies for which their income level qualifies them. Those subsidies will go primarily to a few for-profit insurance plans.

Third, not only are we excluded from receiving premium subsidies, non-profit plans like ours will also be taxed to benefit for-profit plans.

These restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will rid the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies. As it stands, the ACA will be a multi-billion dollar tax expansion going directly to benefit the for-profit health plans.

Q: What are Taft-Hartley health plans?

A: These plans are governed by laws created by Congress in 1947 that guide labor and management relations. The health plans themselves are mutually agreed upon between union members and participating employers and have provided quality, affordable health care to millions of Americans for over 60 years.

Q: When does this need to be fixed?

A: We are running out of time. We expect a clear indication that the Administration will undertake a fix that works by no later than Sept. 10 of this year. That is when all the major labor unions are meeting at the annual AFL-CIO meeting in Los Angeles.

Q: What is the solution?

A: Most simply, it is to treat not-for-profit plans like ours like for profit plans. UNITE HERE has asked that the Obama Administration interpret the law to allow Taft-Hartley plans to access the subsidies just as for profit plans are able to do.

Q: How does this impact my own health care? What about bargaining?

A: There is no immediate impact on your current health plans, but the future of your plan is in jeopardy if there is no a fix to the problem. UNITE HERE locals will continue to use the power of collective bargaining to negotiate the best health care possible.

Q: What has the response been?

A: The response from Congress and the Obama Administration has been unsatisfactory. The Administration lawyers have said self-insured plans like UNITE HERE’s and some other unions and non-profit organizations cannot access the subsidies under the law.

Q: What else has the UNITEHERE done?

A: UNITE HERE is continuing to lobby the Administration for a more favorable outcome through regulatory interpretation. In addition, the possibility of fixing the law through legislation is being explored, but is much more difficult given the divided Congress. That said, UNITE HERE and several other unions and several other non-profit organizations are stepping up pressure on Congress and the Administration to press for common-sense fixes to be made that offer fair and equitable treatment for unions and other non-profits so that we keep the same health care we currently have.

Q: What can I do?

A: UNITE HERE is asking members and leaders to contact their elected officials to demand that the law is fixed through administrative action. It is essential that our elected officials hear from constituents and voters in their districts in addition to Washington contact. They listen to voters at home more than special interests in Washington.

Q: Are we now opposed to ObamaCare?

A: No. We supported the President’s plan and still support the goal of providing affordable health care to every American. But there are unintended consequences of the law that could jeopardize our plans. All we want is for fair, equal treatment as has already been extended to other for-profit players including business, in this effort. We simply want to keep our plans as the President promised we would be able to keep.

Q: What are we asking members of Congress to do?

A: Demand that the Administration undertake some simple fixes put forward by UNITE HERE and many other unions and non-profit organizations whose plans are in jeopardy by the ACA as presently interpreted.

Q: What is our UNITE HERE leadership saying about the situation?

A: UNITE HERE President Taylor had this to say publicly: “The members of UNITE HERE backed the President’s plan for health care reform because we have long supported the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that the Affordable Care Act misses the mark in several areas that affect millions of Americans.

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ hours below 30 hours a week to avoid health care obligations.

Second, the ACA as interpreted by the Obama Administration excludes participants in non-profit health plans like the one in that covers most UNITE HERE members from receiving subsidies for which their income level qualifies them. Those subsidies will go primarily to a few for-profit insurance plans.

Third, in spite of that exclusion, non-profit plans like ours will be taxed to benefit those for-profit plans. These restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will rid the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies. As it stands, the ACA will be a multi-billion dollar tax expansion going directly to benefit the for-profit health plans.

The President promised that those of us who like our health care plan would be able to keep it. But unless changes are made, that promise will be broken. We believe that there are common- sense corrections to these problems, and we continue to stand behind real health care reform. But as it stands, millions of Americans, including the members of UNITE HERE, will be hurt by the health care law intended to help them. We must do better.

BOYCOTT at La Playa Carmel now One Year Old!

Former La Playa Hotel workers announced a boycott of La Playa Carmel at a rally more than a year ago on July 6, 2012, in front of the hotel at Camino Real and 8th Avenue, Carmel, California.  There have been dozens of public protest  actions at the hotel since, the next on September 27, 2013.

“We urge everybody not to patronize La Playa Carmel, until the owner rehires the former workers,” said Noe Hinojosa, 33-year bartender at La Playa Hotel before its change of ownership and closing November 1, 2011.  The CEO of the owning company, Classic Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based Grossman Company Properties, was quoted in a recent local paper stating that 3 of the 113 former workers have been rehired.  The head of Grossman Company Properties is Chair and founding principal, Sam Grossman. “This is outrageous.  Grossman didn’t even invite me for an interview, and there are many others with 15, 20, 30 years of experience with the same story.  Grossman hasn’t even had the decency to give us a chance, so we are asking for the community’s help. Please do not patronize La Playa Carmel, and if you’ve already made reservations, please cancel them and visit another Monterey Bay hotel,” added Mr. Hinojosa.

The boycott announcement and rallies are the culmination of nearly two years of conflict over the future jobs of former La Playa Hotel workers. The hotel was previously owned by Nob Hill Properties, a San Francisco-based hotel company, led by John Cope. After the union contract expired on August 1, 2010, the union representing the workers, UNITE HERE Local 483, and Mr. Cope fought over a new contract granting the right of first refusal for jobs to La Playa hotel workers in the event of a sale. The dispute boiled over into the streets with a dozen demonstrations at the hotel involving more than a total of 1,000 community supporters, including a civil disobedience action with 16 arrests in front of the hotel on October 28, 2011. The Cope family chose to sell the hotel without any job security for the workers on November 1, 2011. That is the day Classic Hotels closed the hotel.

Since, the former La Playa hotel workers formed La Playa Hotel Workers for Justice to continue the fight for their jobs. Members of the committee have spoken at Carmel City Council meetings and collected over 1,000 Monterey County resident signatures—most while outside the Carmel post office—calling on Sam Grossman to rehire the workers. With the company announcement of a La Playa Carmel July 2012 opening, the campaign to rehire the workers went back into the streets of Carmel with large rallies and marches. La Playa Hotel Workers for Justice agreed on June 27, 2012, to call for the boycott, later endorsed by UNITE HERE Local 483, the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and the California Labor Federation.  There have been dozens of protests involving thousands of participants since.

Local 483 Secretary-Treasurer, Leonard O’Neill, stated, “While the company advertises it is ‘Restoring 100 years of tradition,’ it’s doing the opposite: Destroying 100 years of tradition by dumping the workers who made La Playa Hotel the historic enchanting hotel it once was.”

Click here for the La Playa Carmel Boycott Website.

NEW CONTRACTS AT BEACH RESORT & OLD CAPITAL CLUB

The Beach Resort’s Juan Bavara with grandchild on La Playa Carmel picket line.

Monterey, CA.  Union workers at the Monterey Beach Resort and Old Capital Club, members of UNITE HERE Local 483, have approved new labor contracts, calling for standard wage and benefit increases.

At the Monterey Beach Resort, union members met April 18th to approve a contract through September 2014, covering 90 workers, including housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, hosts, servers, bartenders, gardeners, groundskeepers, maintenance, laundry, banquet, and front desk workers.  The agreement was made with the hotel’s owner, Southwest Value Partners, headquartered in San Diego.

“I am happy that we got job security in case the hotel sells and kept our health insurance for our families,” said Hiram Antonio, a 6-year Beach Resort banquet set-up worker and member of the Local 483 negotiating committee.

The contract with the Old Capital Club was approved by Local 483 members yesterday, April 25, 2013, and covers 5 workers through 2015.  The Old Capital Club is a 58 year- old private club on Polk Street in downtown Monterey.