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Fatal Effects of the 1% Concern Those at Carmel Hotel Workers Rally at La Playa and Pine Inn
Energetic picketing and street demonstrations were punctuated with moments of deep sadness at the Summer Solstice Street Heat Rally for hotel workers in Carmel on June 20th; rally organizers announced that only two of more than one hundred former La Play Hotel workers had been re-hired since being laid off after the hotel's sale. Also announced was the death of one former La Playa employee who committed suicide when he couldn't find work. In addition to protesting at La Playa Hotel, community members continued the ongoing protests of the Pine Inn and the Tally-Ho Inn, where after years of making wage concessions to preserve their health plan, all dependents of hotel workers (42 people) have been removed from medical insurance coverage.
When a former employee announced that a co-worker of his at La Playa Hotel had committed suicide after not being able to find another job, community members at the demonstration were visibly shocked. The rally, in the words of a representative from Unite Here! Local 483, was intended to protest the actions of, "the 1% that doesnt even live in this area, and has nothing to do with the workers, many of whom have worked here for many many years."
The Summer Solstice Street Heat Rally began at the Pine Inn on Ocean Avenue and the nearby Tally-Ho Inn, where on April 1st of this year, the decades-long employer coverage of family health insurance was eliminated for 29 children and 13 spouses of workers. Pine Inn & Tally-Ho Inn workers have been working without a labor contract since January 1, 2011. They are members of Unite Here! Local 483, the labor union representing hotel and restaurant workers in the Monterey Bay area since 1937.
The owner of both the Pine Inn and the Tally-Ho Inn, as well as the Santa Barbara Inn, is Richard Gunner of Fresno. Gunner is known as a philanthropist and political donor, donating heavily to an out of area children's hospital. Residents of Carmel, however, have not felt the same sense of charity from Gunner locally, and on April 20th they traveled to his business offices in Fresno for a protest.
After picketing at the Pine Inn, community members made their way over to La Playa Hotel, where Carmel residents have been attempting to send a message to the owner, who also lives and runs his businesses from out of the area. They delivered a long scroll of petitions signed by over 1000 Monterey County residents requesting that the workers who were laid off when the hotel changed ownership and started their remodeling project be rehired. At least half of those laid off had worked at the hotel for over 20 years. La Playa Hotel is owned by Sam Grossman of Santa Monica, who runs Grossman Company Properties.
The petition read as follows:
"To: Mr. Sam Grossman, new owner of La Playa Hotel,
We, the undersigned residents of Carmel-by-the-Sea and srrounding areas, welcome you to our village. La Playa Hotel has been an institution in Carmel for many years. We look forward to its reopening.
But you need to know that a big part of the appeal of La Playa has always been the long-time staff. They were friends who provided professional, courteous service which made La Playa Hotel special.
We look to you to reemploy the former La Playa staff. If they are tossed out like the old drapes and carpet, it will be an affront to the community. We sincerely hope you will consider the human component as you begin, what should be, your very successful Carmel endeavor. Thank you."
The next protest to support hotel workers in Carmel is planned for July 6 from 5-6pm at La Playa Hotel, which is located at Camino Real & 8th Avenue.
For more information about the labor struggles at Lay Playa Hotel, see:
And for more information about Unite Here! Local 483, see:
Demonstrators make their way from the Pine Inn to the Tally-Ho Inn.