By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Opponents of the initiative have contacted Disney attorneys to alert the company of the use of their cartoon character in the campaign, and a local paper turned down the ad.
The petition battle is expected to end this month, when Mosher says he plans to turn in thousands more signatures than are necessary to qualify. But for the next two weeks, the ground battle should become less visible.
”Truth Teams,“ which scout the parking lots to locate the targeted signature gatherers, are having less luck spotting their nemeses.
”Now they’re going door to door,“ said Amber Meshack, an organizer for SMART. ”Our people have seen them, and we hear from neighbors, but it‘s almost impossible to track them down.“
”We’re trying to gather signatures in such a way that they can‘t find us,“ Mosher said. ”What I’m here to do is qualify the initiative. I can gather faster than they can rescind. I can ask them [those who signed] to rescind their rescission. At this point my job is to do the best to get it qualified.“
Whether or not the ballot initiative qualifies, the battle for a living wage is likely to escalate late next month. That‘s when Pollin and his research team from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are expected to present the City Council with a draft of their study of SMART’s pioneering proposal.
Last month, Pollin‘s team began offering hotel workers $30 to participate in an employee survey. The offer, which was printed in both Spanish and English and handed to workers of at least one major luxury hotel, came less than two weeks after the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to its members cautioning them about the employee survey.
”We have not seen the employee survey, nor do we condone the method with which you have been approached for this information,“ the letter said. ”Because of privacy issues for both employer and employee and the extreme politicizing of this entire exercise by the selection of [Pollin] . . . the success of this process is doubtful, at best, and potentially a disaster for everyone involved.“
Already, the living-wage war is assuming biblical overtones. Last month SMART staged a symbol-laced procession of nearly 400 workers and their supporters. The march began in windswept rain beside the rushing waters of a storm drain with an offering of bitter herbs. It ended 1.2 miles later under clear skies on a bluff overlooking a calm ocean with an offering of milk and honey.
The hourlong march, dubbed by the organizers as a ”Journey Toward Justice,“ celebrated a new contract signed by the local Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union and the new owners of the Miramar Fairmont (Marist, Wolff & Co.). The contract ended a bitter four-year labor battle and guaranteed that the luxury beachfront hotel visited by President Bill Clinton will remain the city’s only unionized hotel.
”The City Council is standing with you not only today, but in the struggle that started and is coming,“ said Mayor Ken Genser. ”This is a beautiful day in Santa Monica.
“This is a city committed to economic justice for every worker in Santa Monica,” Genser said. “But there are people in hotels who don’t have the respect. We have to re-dedicate ourselves to working together.”
Alan Mittelstaedt contributed to this story.