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The road to hell

The following is an excerpt from our Saturday email, which includes our musings on the latest developments impacting public employees, links to that week’s labor news, and a collection of whimsical reads for your weekend. If you’d like to receive our weekly email, you can use the sign-up form at the bottom of this page. We promise to respect your inbox, and we will never share your email address.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I’m wondering if Big Labor owns the paving company.
Unite Here Local 11, a union that represents hotel workers in Los Angeles, is pushing a ballot initiative that attempts to solve the city’s homeless crisis by forcing hotels to report vacant rooms every day by 2p.m. so that the rooms can be made available, for free, to the city’s homeless population.
I’m no expert on serving the homeless population in The City of Angels, so I’ll save that discussion for the actual experts. But I can spot union misbehavior, and this is a case of a union massively failing to serve its members while it pushes a progressive political agenda.
It’s a tune we’ve heard over and over again here at AFFT. And that tune is full of seemingly good intentions that lead to bad outcomes.
Yes, it is a good thing to want to tackle homelessness. But it isn’t the union’s job to tackle a housing crisis. The union’s proposal to warehouse the homeless population on a night-by-night basis without addressing their psychological and physical needs puts the members they are responsible for representing in harm’s way. Plus, the proposed ballot initiative is seriously lacking in functional policy solutions.
An owner of an LA hotel spoke on behalf of his employees at a recent city council meeting. He said his employees are “absolutely scared and fear not just for their lives and their safety, but also for how we are treating the homeless and unsheltered. There has to be a more human way to take care of this problem.”
Interestingly, then defending the ballot initiative, a union spokesperson said thousands of Local 11 members are facing eviction.
Did you catch that? The union knows its members are woefully underpaid and yet the union continues to push progressive politics instead of serving its members. Shouldn’t the union focus on ensuring their members receive the best possible pay at their jobs so that members won’t face eviction?

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Elisabeth Messenger

Elisabeth Messenger is CEO of Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Elisabeth was in the publicity department at Atlantic Records in Los Angeles, CA. From there, she learned how to build organizations that would impact culture through positions in operations and business development at Universal Music Group, VEVO, and Beats Music.