June 15, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Square Footage Cap for Santa Monica Hotel Housekeepers?

Santa Monica City Council to consider hotel worker protection regulations in rules that have gained national attention.

By Sam Catanzaro

As host to over eight million visitors annually Santa Monica’s tourism industry employs over 2,000 hotel housekeepers across 41 hotels and motels. To address vulnerabilities that hotel workers face in the workplace, Santa Monica City Council will consider establishing regulations, pertaining to hotel worker safety, fair compensation and retention at their August 27 meeting, protections that Bernie Sanders has voiced his support for. Some stakeholders worry, however, that one component of these new rules go too far and could hurt the industry. 

To date, the cities of Long Beach, Oakland, Emeryville and Seattle have adopted similar ordinances through ballot measures approved by voters. Consideration for Santa Monica to develop hotel worker protection began in 2018 when representatives of hospitality union UNITE HERE! Local 11 (Local 11) presented a set of recommendations related to hospitality worker protection to Santa Monica’s Commission on the Status of Women (COSW). 

After engaging with local stakeholders and other cities, Santa Monica City Staff has developed regulations to address the safety and working conditions of hotel employees that City Council will consider on August 27. The scope of these regulations is as follows: 

Protection for hotel workers from sexual violence by providing panic buttons among other measures; training for hotel housekeepers to ensure knowledge and skills to protect their rights and safety; hotel worker retention in instances of change in ownership provisions; required education and training to identify instances of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual violence; provisions to ensure hotel housekeepers are compensated fairly when required to perform unreasonable workloads. 

“Santa Monica is a city that prides itself on empowering its residents and workers,” said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “Empowering women in the hotel industry is key to building a better society.”

Davis was speaking on August 23 at a Santa Monica screening of “Councilwoman”, a documentary that follows hotel housekeeper Carmen Castillo as she wins a city council seat in Providence, RI.

City staff is recommending that Council adopt a daily square footage cap of 4,000 square feet of cleaning space per hotel housekeeper while requiring a 1.5x compensation rate for all hours worked when the workload exceeds the square footage maximum. This aspect of the regulations was proposed by Local 11, who pushed for a 3,500 square footage cap with 2x compensation for overload work. 

“Women in the hospitality industry are often treated as if they are invisible. They are not heard when they speak up about the risk of sexual assault or other threatening conduct. They are not heard when they say they are unable to properly care for their children and engage with their families because of mandatory, unexpected overtime or not paid adequately for heavy workloads,” said Stand With Women Santa Monica, an advocacy group associated with Local 11. 

The issue has garnered national attention as presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) voiced his support for the regulations in a July 26 tweet writing “I stand with @UNITEHERE11 hotel workers fighting for protections from sexual assault and fair compensation for their work. Everyone deserves dignity in the workplace.”

While City Staff’s proposed rules are supported by 674 housekeepers in a signed petition, some hotel managers and hospitality workers worry a square footage cap will have negative consequences. 

“Our hotels offer a variety of room sizes and shapes. Daily cleaning depends on a multitude of factors. Some rooms have more beds, lamps, and desks than others. Some have more mirrors and windows. And let’s face it: some guests are messier than others! No hotel in Santa Monica assigns housekeeping tasks by counting square feet because every square foot of a hotel is different,” said Laurel Rosen CEO and President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. 

Cyrus Nourafchan, whose family has owned the Cal Mar Hotel Suites on the corner of 3rd Street and California Avenue for over 50 years, says such a cap will cause his housekeepers to lose their benefits. Cal Mar Hotel Suites’ rooms average 900 square feet each, and if the proposed limit on housekeeping work is passed housekeepers will be unable to clean more than four rooms in a day.

“They will finish their work in three hours and then I will have to send them home. As a result, I will need to employ three times as many housekeepers to work three-hour shifts and my current housekeepers will lose their medical, dental insurance and other benefits due to being part-time employees,” Nourafchan said. “I have amazing full-time housekeepers that have worked with us for over 30 years and I fear that they will leave us over this. If we cannot keep our quality housekeepers, our product will surely suffer. The future of my family’s business will likely hang on this decision. If your goal is to prevent housekeepers from being overworked, then surely another more reasonable metric could be implemented.” 

Roxana Fuentes Segovia, a housekeeper at JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot on Ocean Avenue, shares this view. In an interview with the Santa Monica Mirror, Segovia says that if made to work part-time the commute would not be worth her time. 

“All in all, this proposal instead of benefitting me it will just make my situation worse,” Segovia said. “When I reach my limit I would have to get sent home after only working three, four or five hours. I would be considered a ‘part-time’ employee, which means that I would not receive any benefits. I also am not willing to work seven days in order to gain more hours…to come to work all the way from where I live for a small amount of hours, I don’t believe that makes sense for anyone. They should not be basing our work off of square feet.” 

The JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot on Ocean Avenue. Photo: Courtesy.

“The only ones that will benefit from this proposal would be the Local 11 Union. Because, passing this proposal would mean that the companies will then have to hire more housekeepers to get the job done and Local 11 Union will be receiving more union dues,” Segovia added. 

Under City staff’s proposed ordinance, a supersession condition is included that would exempt members of Local 11 from the square footage cap under collective bargaining agreements. 

Erik Kreft, General Manager of The Ambrose Hotel on 20th Street and Arizona Avenue explained that a “credit system” that is standard across the industry is what makes a square footage cap a challenge. Under this system, each task, from waste management and making beds to restocking the room and folding, arranging and tidying guest items is given a score based on how much time is it takes to complete.  

“This standard ensures that day to day, housekeeper to housekeeper, we are assigning an equal amount of timed work for their shift…if you are to implement a per day square footage cap you will be penalizing employees who have more timed worked to be accomplished based on the tasks in their specific room versus others,” Kreft said. “There is so much variation hotel to hotel, room to room, meeting space to public space, that a square footage cap will be challenging to apply. Taking into account variations in the number of occupants, number of beds in a room, pillows; multiple linens, size of bathroom vanity space, you can see that a square footage cap standard will not apply fairly to each individual room.” 

Acknowledging concerns about employing square footage to measure and manage hotel housekeeper workloads, City staff says Council could alternatively direct staff to advise Local 11 and hoteliers that they have 90 days to develop a compromise framework for workload. 

Related Posts

Marina del Rey Sportfishing: A Great Day on the Water

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Fishing is a pastime like no other. You can experience the nostalgia of that pastime in real time at Marina...

Fatal Altercation Outside Santa Monica Pub Leads to Homicide Charge

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Venice Resident Charged in Death of Jameson’s Pub Manager A man has been charged with homicide following a fatal altercation...

Film Reviews: Bad Boys: Ride or Die

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

FILM REVIEWBad Boys: Ride or DieRated R115 MinutesReleased June 7th Bad Boys: Ride or Die is the fourth installment in...

Cypress Equity Investments Acquires Santa Monica Retail Center for $7M

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

The Retail Center Was Sold for 274% Above the Santa Monica Market Average Cypress Equity Investments has acquired a prime...

Juneteenth Art Exhibition Set for Abbot Kinney Boulevard

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

The Event Features Works by Twelve Prominent Black Artists From Los Angeles An art exhibition titled “FREEDOM” will open at...

Santa Monica Chamber Announces Prestigious Toast of Santa Monica Event

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Event to Showcase Business Excellence and Community Spirit The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its highly...

Former HR Chief of Santa Monica Accuses City of Racial Discrimination

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

She Was Selected in 2018 as the First African American to Hold That Position Within City Leadership, According to the...

Las Vegas Man Convicted in 2016 Santa Monica Home Invasion Case

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

With the Help of DNA Evidence, the Case’s Investigation Was Able to Link the Home Invasion With a String of...

Hang-Ten Therapeutics-Surf Therapy for Kids: Catching Waves and Finding your Calm

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

A different type of therapy is making waves in Los Angeles. Hang-Ten Therapeutics, founded by Naomi Matanick, a licensed pediatric...

Venice Canal Attack Suspect Appears in Court

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

He faces a lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole By Zach Armstrong The man who allegedly raped and...

(Video) The Opening of Pico Roots Marketplace in Santa Monica

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Lots of friendly vendors with wonderful gifts, cards, clothing, decor, and coffee beans available at 1819 Pico Boulevard. @smmirrornews The...

Tien Pham Connects Personal History with Role in Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Sympathizer”

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Family’s Harrowing Escape From Vietnam Mirrors the Acclaimed HBO Max Series Vietnamese American actor-musician-producer Tien Pham finds a deep connection...

Jinky’s Cafe is Returning to Santa Monica

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

The Development Comes After Months After the Franchise Closed Its Previous Santa Monica Storefront By Zach Armstrong Several months after...

Three Taken Into Custody After Assault Incident Closes Portion of Main Street

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

A Male Victim Was Transported to a Local Hospital for Treatment By Zach Armstrong Three suspects were taken into custody...

Shutters on the Beach Brings Beachside Spring Celebrations 

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

As spring unfurls with super blooms and sunsets after 7pm along the California coast, Shutters on the Beach emerges as the most...