The state government-imposed COVID-19 shutdown has devastated the tourism, convention and hospitality industry. That devastation extends to UNITE-HERE Local 11, the politically radical union representing hotel workers.
According news reports, 95% of Local 11 have lost their jobs. Nonetheless, the union continued trying to collect dues from its unemployed members.
A UNITE-HERE Local 11 member shared with Anaheim Blog text communications from a union staffer trying to cajole her into paying dues, despite the mass layoffs. The union staffer’s rationale was Local 11 needs to pay its staff so they can continue advocating to employers on behalf of members who no longer work for those employers.
The watchdog site Eyeson11.com reported on the union’s campaign to extract dues – which range from $28 to $66 per month – from their jobless members:
[In March] a union member commented on one of Local 11’s Facebook posts asking, “Are we still being charged for dues???” In reply, another member informed her that, yes, “they’d [Local 11] like us to. No really. I told my rep, sorry, no can do.” For many workers worried about making rent and feeding their families, union dues are an expense they just can’t afford right now.
But that doesn’t seem to matter to the union. One hotel employee — who recently found himself out of work — said his union representative had no trouble telling him his dues payments were still expected. You can see the message he received from his rep earlier this week below (names and contact info have been redacted to protect his identity).
Read the entire EyesOn11.com report here.
According to various sources, Local 11’s dues collection campaign has been a massive failure. This not only craters the union’s finances, but undercuts its political clout, as well, since voting rights in for member unions in the OC Central Labor Council are determined by the number of dues paying members the union has.
According to annual LM-2 report the union is required to file with the U.S. Department of Labor, at the end of 2019 UNITE-HERE Local 11 reported total assets of $17,746,894. That included almost $4,391,110 in cash reserves – a nearly million dollar increase from the year before.
In 2019, Local 11 collected $17,813,377 in dues from its members. Another EyesOn11.com report further examines the union’s finances.
While 95% of its members are out of work, Local 11 has furloughed according to the LA Times, Local 11 has furloughed 46% of its 110 staff members.
According to the union’s LM-2 for 2019 and 2018, Briceno received a large pay increase in 2019: her total compensation rising from $106,294 to $126,058. This nearly $20,000 pay increase came as Briceno was also taking on the added responsibility of running the Democratic Party of Orange County, in addition to her duties as Local 11 co-president. She’s being paid more to run the union while presumably having less time to run the union. It’s unknown if Briceno has taken a pay-cut in the wake of the mass unemployment that has hit Local 11 members.