Hotel would recognize union, pay living wage

Letter to the Editor


Editor, Index-Tribune:

The Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County opposes Measure B, which would limit the size of “large” hotels in the city. We believe the measure could undercut economic growth and job creation.

We are particularly encouraged that the owner/operators of the proposed Chateau Sonoma hotel project have signed an agreement with UNITE HERE 2850 – a union representing hotel, gaming and food service workers – that will enable workers to organize without employer interference, and the employer has agreed to recognize the union if a majority of workers sign authorization cards.

These new jobs will likely pay living wages and provide economic opportunity for local residents. Employees at the Petaluma Sheraton voted for representation by UNITE HERE in 2006, and the union recently signed a second contract. The Sheraton workers now enjoy some of the best wages, benefits, and working conditions in the hospitality industry in the county.

Martin J. Bennett

Co-Chair, Living Wage Coalition, Sonoma

  • bob edwards

    As co-chair of the Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma, one presumes Mr. Bennett was privy to or has seen a copy of the so-called agreement regarding wages to which he refers. and that he didn’t write his letter on mere hearsay.

    If so, it is significant that he only states “These new jobs will LIKELY pay living wages . . . “

    “Likely” is not the same as “will.” It is perhaps the most conclusive indication to date that the long-rumored labor agreement does not, in fact, promise any prospective worker a living wage.

    “Likely” is a very sharp departure from the initial announcement reported in the May 23, 2013 issue of this newspaper stating in no uncertain terms that the hotel jobs would, in fact, pay living wages. It said:

    “The North Bay Labor Council, representing some 30,000 AFL-CIO members in an array of
    California unions, announced Wednesday evening that its general delegates had just ratified an agreement with Kenwood Investments, LLC that all employees at the proposed West Napa
    Street hotel would be paid a living wage with health care . . . The City of Sonoma is a living wage contractor and, as of 2012, the living wage (which is adjusted annually) was $15.15 an hour, which comes to about $31,000 a year.”

    On top of previous waffling by Mr. Ben Boyce in an earlier Op-Ed on this subject – suggesting that the claimed living wage was an aspiration rather than a fact – Mr. Bennett’s letter seems to give the final lie to this lame and long-running PR side show to the Measure B debate, a side show that could have ended long ago had the union simply published a copy of the agreement. Apparently, somebody is too ashamed to do that.

    Like the bizarre statements on ‘No on B yard signs,’ the living wage claim has been yet another knee-slapping distortion that has Sonoma voters asking “Who writes that stuff??”

    • Lisa Maldonado

      Speaking of bizarre statements, we now have Mr Edwards deciding what is
      best for working people over both the voting members of the Living Wage
      Coalition and the North Bay Labor Council. I have a hard time believing
      that his constant criticism and wordsmithing of our agreements is
      really motivated by his deep concern for the working class. He just
      can’t stand it that these public interest organizations are working with a development and a developer he doesn’t like.
      We are quite happy with Kenwood and they and Darius Anderson are the
      ONLY Sonoma developers who have reached out to working people and
      invited our participation in a project that would give local jobs and
      union wages and benefits. I wonder if Mr Edwards evinced this same deep
      concern for working people and their wages when the Fairmont and every other B& B that pays minimum wage was proposed?

      • David Eichar

        Why does the agreement with the union not cover Ramekins an existing lodging and event center, also owned by Darius Anderson?

        • Lisa Maldonado

          Because we are working on this project right now. If workers at Ramekin or any other hotel in Sonoma want a union we are happy to help them get it.

      • Will Shonbrun

        It’s interesting that Ms. Maldonado doesn’t see the irony in her alliance with Kenwood Investments and their “reaching out” to working people. Does she think this would have possibly happened, this offer of a living wage, had it not been for the political/economic pressure generated by the hotel limitation Measure? In point of fact if NBLC gets or has a deal with the hotel developers it’s only because of the “Yes on B” campaign. Does Ms. Maldonado think this would have been the case otherwise? And if so then why has this development company not been paying living wages in its other businesses? For that matter will these friends of the working man and woman now be paying real living wages to their other employees, and will they encourage others in the hotel industry in Sonoma to also pay living wages? And for the umpteenth time will Ms. Maldonado and Mr. Bennett state exactly what that living wage actually is and to whom it will apply?

        • Lisa Maldonado

          Wow Will, way to take credit for something you had NOTHING to do with! We met with the developer long before the measure was even written or conceived. Narcissistic much? It may shock you but Mr Anderson has worked with labor before on other projects and is far more open to working with unions than some of the “environmentalist” developments people keep patting themselves on the back for. To wit: The Barlow- built with scab contractors. It never seems to amaze me how ego driven and self righteous so called “progressives” can be. And the living wage agreement will apply to workers who are not covered by seems union contract. I guess it would be too much to expect an apology for all your repeated lies about the reality of both card check and the Living Wage now that the Living Wage Coalition and UNITE /HERE are supporting the hotel and OPPOSING Measure B.

          • Will Shonbrun

            That’s a cute shuck and jive, but I’ve never said anything about “card check” and you STILL haven’t answered the question about what the living wage actually is.

          • Lisa Maldonado

            I knew it. You keep proving my point by trying to attack everything BUT the hotel. Because you KNOW it’s suited to downtown and it’s green and it brings local jobs and tax revenue and all the rest. I answered your question a million times. The living wage is pegged to the city’s living wage ordinance. That’s why merry Bennett and the rest of the Living WGe coalition support the hotel and oppose measure B . You know this but
            Ike t rest of your. Amp sign you can’t argue the merits
            PS “shuck and jive” ? What are you still in 1970?

          • bob edwards

            “The living wage is pegged to the city’s living wage ordinance.”???

            A first year law student or fledgling union steward understands that having a wage schedule “pegged” to the city’s living wage ordinance is not the same as an agreement to actually PAY the “living wage” called for in the city’s ordinance. For example, a wage schedule wherein an employer would agree to pay employees at “50% of whatever the city living wage ordinance requires” would be “pegged” to the city’s living wage ordinance even though it would not actually pay anywhere close to the actual mandated wage for city contractors. Indeed, in that scenario, if the city actually lowered its living wage in the future, employer wages “pegged” to the city living wage ordinance would decrease.

            Again, and not to belabor the point, the much-touted prospective wage “agreement” to pay a “living wage” per the City’s ordinance is a fraud.

          • Lisa Maldonado

            It’s interesting that Mr Edwards is so concerned about workers wages and the legacy of the Living Wage Coalition since my understanding is that he made his living working FOR MANAGEMENT. Perhaps his concern is motivated more by the fact that he has no real arguments against a hotel project that is built Green, built with local hire and staffed union and which will bring in 3 million in taxes to support city services and parks.

  • Anne Shapiro

    So, this is sounding like you DO want to build a Sheraton in Sonoma to assure jobs and wages? Maybe we SHOULD have let the huge casino be built in our front yard instead of Rohnert Park. Plenty of work there. Thinking like this is exactly why Prop B was written. We don’t want Sonoma to look like Petaluma or Rohnert Park. That is the point! YES on B!!!!!!!

    • Lisa Maldonado

      Again with the lies about the casino. As with mr Edwards lies about the Living Wage And card check neutrality agreements they have to attack and lie about this because honestly thy have no real arguments with the hotel downtown. it is small(59 rooms) built and staffed union with local hire, Green and within the Urban growth boundary and the general plan and will encourage walking to downtown. It will also bring in three million in taxes for parks libraries and other city services. It’s a win for all,

      • Anne Shapiro

        Where in there is a lie about casinos? Is it NOT in Rohnert Park because we didn’t want it here? No, the lies are all over the No on B yard signs. And it is not about one hotel. It is much more than that.