Reflecting the Concerns of the Community May 31 - June 6, 2000 Vol. 1, Issue 50

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Loews Hotel Is Target Of Demonstraton

Carolanne Sudderth

Mirror staff writer

   With the Fairmont Miramar Hotel unionized, hotel workers have turned their attention to Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and are taking to the streets once again. 
   Last Thursday afternoon, May 25, cries of "Si, se puede!" ("Yes, we can!") echoed down Ocean Avenue, drums rolled, a trumpet blared, motorists snarled and traffic did likewise throughout the area, as over 500 chanting people marched from Pico Boulevard to Loews, virtually shutting down the avenue, as Police officers diverted traffic away from the protest. 
   City officials, resident activists and Local 814 joined employees of the beach hotel to demand that it offer employees a similar opportunity to that given to Miramar employees. 
   In a prepared statement, the "Friends and Co-workers on the Loews Union Organizing Committee" wrote that they had approached the union a few months ago asking for a "a strong union like the one at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica."
   When they began organizing, Loews quickly responded with raises, reduced insurance costs and other benefits. 
   "Some of us who had not received raises for years suddenly got $3 an hour increase. We feel so strong, knowing that we have already won so much simply starting to organize," one Loews employee said.
   While guerilla theater and giant puppets kept the crowd in the street entertained, a delegation led by Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser headed into the hotel and asked to speak with management. The mayor was flanked by City Council members Paul Rosenstein, Kevin McKeown, Mike Feinstein and Richard Bloom, union officials, and Rev. Sandie Richard and Rev. Jim Conn. 
   Hotel security people stopped the group before it reached the door and threatened them with arrest, if they did not leave the premises. 
   "What? You’re going to arrest the mayor?" someone quipped. A rumble of protest rippled through the group. 
   The event was reminiscent of a protest earlier this year, when church and state joined hands to march on the Jonathan Club. In both cases, the groups were met by security guards who told them management was not available. 
   Returning to the crowd, Rosenstein grabbed a mike and described what had happened. The crowd reacted like the audience at an old-fashioned melodrama, hissing the villains and cheering the heroes. 
   "[Security] told us if we didn’t leave, we’d be arrested," Rosenstein began.
   "Boooooo," said the crowd.
   "But we didn’t leave."
   "YEA!!!
   Though Loews officials declined to comment, a prepared statement was made available which said that each employee was free to decide for himself whether or not to join the union.
   "But," Rosenstein told the crowd, "The statement did not say that Loews would not harass, arrest or otherwise try to intimidate employees.
   The crowd booed again. 
   "We told him that Loews would not intimidate or arrest anybody for exercising their rights."
   The crowd cheered. 

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