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Travelodge Boycott Info

Local: Monterey Area Issues and Events

Hi All,

Here's some information about a situation I think all local progresives should be aware of. Many of you have probably seen some of the rallies held at the Travelodge over the past year and wondered what the story was. Here's the background straight from UNITE/HERE, the union representing the workers:

UNITE HERE Local 483 has announced a boycott of the Monterey Bay Travelodge at 2030 North Fremont Street in Monterey, California.

“We urge everybody not to stay at the Monterey Bay Travelodge until the owner signs a fair contract,” said Juana Enriquez, Travelodge housekeeper and chief shop steward for UNITE HERE Local 483. The hotel’s owner, Kilsoo Seo of Bethel, Alaska, has eliminated all contributions to the employee health insurance and pension plans, while freezing hourly wages at $8.84. “This is outrageous. He won’t listen to us. He won’t talk with us. He hasn’t given us a choice. We have to protect our families, so we are asking for the community’s help. Please do not make reservations at the Monterey Bay Travelodge, and if you already have, please cancel them and visit another Monterey Bay hotel,” added Ms. Enriquez.

The Monterey Bay Travelodge contract with its 13 Latino housekeeping and maintenance workers expired on January 1, 2004 , and is the only unsettled contract of 15 unionized hotels on the Monterey Bay with UNITE HERE Local 483. All of the other 14 contracts have been successfully negotiated within the past two years and call for full employee and family health insurance without co-payments, as well as wage and pension increases. Contract negotiations between Local 483 and the Travelodge continued through July, at which point Mr. Seo issued his “last and best” offer, demanding the end of his employee’s health and pension plans. The first of dozens of weekly community rallies in support of the workers at the hotel, which have drawn over 1,000 participants, began on July 29.

Local 483 Secretary-Treasurer, Leonard O’Neill, explained, “This boycott says that it is time for Mr. Seo to listen not just to the Union , but to the entire Monterey Bay community and beyond. Health insurance is a necessary part of hospitality workers’ family security on the Monterey Bay—it is what makes it possible to get by on low-income budgets without fear of being ruined by medical bills. The hotel industry has recognized this through 14 contracts with fully funded employee health insurance. Community organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens, the NAACP, and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council have told Mr. Seo they support the workers on this. And over a thousand Monterey Bay community members have marched on the picket lines with the Travelodge workers. Covering his ears, Mr. Seo is standing in the way of justice.”

A July 29, 2004 letter from Mr. Seo’s attorneys, the Littler Mendelson law firm, states that “due to the downturn in the travel industry” the Travelodge “is required to institute extensive cost-cutting measures.” However, just one month later, Monterey County property records show that Seo purchased a home in the new upscale Seaside Highlands development for $982,500. “It looks like he is spending our health insurance on a fancy new house,” said 13-year Travelodge employee Ms. Enriquez.



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