The leadership of UNITE-HERE Local 11, the militant hotel workers union seeking to recall Anaheim Councilwoman Natalie Rubalcava, has been consistently increasing members’s dues and giving themselves salary raises, according to a new report that reviewed the union’s annual filings with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Local 11 Co-President Ada Briceno, for example, has increased her salary every year since the beginning of the COVID pandemic shutdown – when most of her members were unemployed. She currently makes a salary of $138,229, which is 22% higher than the $112,565 she was paid at the beginning of the pandemic. Indeed, Briceno consistently received salary hikes during the pandemic, even as thousands of her members were being laid off or furloughed.

Briceno’s 2023 compensation:

 

And her 2020 compensation:

Interestingly, Local 11 claims tot he federal government in its official filing that Briceno spent only 2% of her work activity on “political activities and lobbying” – even though she is the busy chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County and devoted a great deal of time and energy in 2023 to the Measure A campaign and qualifying a recall against Rubalcava.

Briceno became chair of the DPOC in January 2019. After she was elected to the influential and time-consuming partisan post, she received a $27,353 increase in her union co-president salary, going from $88,053 to $115,406.

According to the report from the Center for Union Facts, Local 11 funneled funds to another local that employs her husband as business manager:

“Local 11 also donated $36,885 to Unite Here Local 19, a local whose business manager is Enrique Fernandez, the husband of Local 11 Co-President Ada Briceño.”

The report also notes that Local 11 “also sent $5,000 to Working Partnership USA, a group headed by Briceño’s daughter-in-law.”

Beside Briceno, Local 11 has two other co-presidents – whose relatives also benefit from Local 11 employment and contracts.

Co-president Susan Minato’s husband Gregory Griffith has a lucrative IT services contract with Local 11, according to the report:

“Once again making an appearance on the union’s finances is Susan Minato’s (co-president of Local 11) husband, Gregory Griffith. Griffith pocketed over $98,000 in 2023 and has now made nearly $750,000 for IT related services in a nine-year span.”

In 2023, Local 11 donated $50,000 in union members dues revenue to Yale Law School – Co-president Kurt Peterson’s alma mater.

The report notes ongoing significant Local 11 funding for two “front groups”:

“Local 11 also continued to fund its front groups, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE). The two groups were recently outed for harboring high ranking anti-Israel board members/employees but nonetheless received six figure donations from the union.”

CLUE functions as a sort of political skirmishing force for UNITE-HERE Local 11, especially in strike situations, advancing Local 11 messaging points to media outlets – which are generally oblivious to the fact that CLUE owes its existence to Local 11 funding. For example, last year CLUE attacked the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel – with which Local 11 was embroiled in a labor dispute – for allegedly not hiring enough black employees. None of the media outlets reporting on the allegation noted Local 11 funding for CLUE – nor that CLUE has its own diversity problem: only one of its 10 staffers is black, and only one of its 14-member Board of Directors is black.

The Center’s report also notes:

“Local 11 also gave $10 thousand for “consulting” to former LAANE employee, William Smart Jr. Smart Jr. was quoted in the Hollywood Report as having brought Unite Here Local 11 and Chateau Marmont “together” for a union contract in Dec. 2022.”

At the same time as Local 11 leaders were giving themselves raises and benefiting family members with jobs and contracts, they hikes their members dues. As the Center’s report notes:

“The newly released LM-2 for Local 11 shows that the maximum dues for the union rose to $91 a month in 2023, up over six percent from the top end rate of $85.50 in 2022.”