21 February 2019
Voters in Long Beach, California passed an initiative in November 2018 that affects all hotels in Long Beach with more than 50 hotel rooms. The Hotel Workplace Requirements and Restrictions Initiative Ordinance, known as the “Panic Button Initiative” places new requirements and restrictions on hotel owners and puts non-union hotels at a disadvantage.
Marta Fernandez, Hotel Lawyer and a partner in JMBM’s Labor & Employment department, discusses “Panic Buttons” and the new ordinance below and describes what Long Beach hotels should do to prepare for compliance and potential union organizing.
What hotel owners need to know about unions and
the “Panic Button” ordinance in Long Beach, CA
Marta M. Fernandez, Hotel Lawyer and Labor & Employment Partner
Passed by voters last November, the “Panic Button Initiative” – which was placed on the local ballot after the hotel workers union submitted 46,000 signatures to the City Clerk in Long Beach, California – has become a new chapter in the City of Long Beach Municipal Code, titled “Hotel Working Conditions.”
The new code mandates that all hotels with 50+ rooms in Long Beach, California must
- Provide panic buttons for workers to protect them against sexual assault
- Require notices regarding the use of panic buttons to be posted in guest rooms
- Give workers who are assaulted the right to reassignment and paid time off for reporting and consultation
Unrelated to potential assaults on hotel housekeepers, the ordinance also requires hotels to
- Place limits on overtime and make overtime voluntary
- Limit the amount of space that housekeepers can clean per shift
- Keep certain records relating to the above
Why the hotel union spent resources on an initiative that does not apply to union hotels
The Panic Button Initiative (also known as Measure WW) tellingly included a significant carve-out for unionized hotels – all provisions of the new ordinance may be waived for union hotels through the collective bargaining process.
Under the guise of protecting workers, the ordinance gives an unfair advantage to union hotels in Long Beach. CONTINUE READING →