Four Long Beach city councilmembers are proposing an ordinance that they say would institute safety protocols for hotel workers and create new labor rules limiting their workloads. The proposal by 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez is scheduled for a vote at the September 19 Long Beach City Council meeting.
Vice Mayor/Councilmember Rex Richardson (9th District), and Councilmembers Jeannine Pearce (2nd District) and Roberto Uranga (7th District) are also signed on to the “Supporting Long Beach Working Women: Hospitality Workload & Safety Ordinance.”
The item on the council agenda is a framework. If passed, the city manager would be directed to draft the actual ordinance. The Business Journal had several questions for Gonzalez and left multiple messages but she did not respond.
Waivers to the ordinance would be granted “if a bona fide collective bargaining agreement is established with equivalent protections,” according to the council agenda item.
Multiple labor and union groups, such as Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and Unite Here Local 11, have been advocating for such an ordinance for more than two years. The effort was in sync with Unite Here Local 11’s push to unionize the Renaissance Long Beach and Westin Long Beach hotels in downtown.
The agenda item contends that working conditions for hotel employees must be improved, citing “sexual harassment, burdensome workloads, and mandatory overtime in our hotels in Long Beach.” Additionally, it states that the city’s hotel sector has been experiencing increased economic activity, and with that, workloads for hotel workers have increased.
The four councilmembers are recommending that the ordinance require hotels with 100 rooms or more to implement the following labor rules regarding “humane workloads”:
- Hotel employers cannot require staff to clean rooms greater than 4,000 square feet in an eight-hour work day. Also, the maximum square footage an employee is required to clean should be “prorated evenly according to the actual number of hours worked” when the employee works less than that time.
- If a hotel employee is assigned to clean “seven or more checkout rooms or additional bed rooms, the maximum floor space to be cleaned shall be reduced by 500 square feet for each such checkout or additional bedroom over six.” Additionally, employers assigning a workload beyond these constraints must pay the employee time-and-a-half for all hours worked during that day.
- Hotel employers would have to receive written consent for an employee to work more than 10 hours in a workday, unless the hotel is undergoing an emergency that poses a threat to public safety or there is a risk of property loss/destruction. Consent would not be valid if the employer did not provide written notice more than 30 days in advance of receiving the consent that the employee is able to decline such a workload and would not then be subject to adverse action for doing so.
The four councilmembers are recommending that the ordinance require hotels with 100 rooms or more implement the following safety rules:
- To supply employees with panic buttons at no cost.
- To provide notice to employees about any guest who is listed as an “alleged harasser” or is a sex offender, and to provide that guest’s room number as a cautionary measure.
- To include a notice in rooms informing guests that “the law protects hotel housekeepers and hotel employees from harassment” and that employees have panic buttons.
- To establish employee rights related to unwanted sexual advances, including the ability to be reassigned to a different floor, among other provisions.
The ordinance would provide for enforcement “via a private right of action in Superior Court.” Hotel employees would be entitled to “reasonable attorneys’ fees costs as part of costs recoverable.”
Other requirements relate to anti-retaliation measures and employer record-keeping of room cleaners’ hours, pay and workload.
In an upcoming edition, the Business Journal will interview hotel operators for their take on the proposal.