Four members of the Petaluma City Council will send a letter to Sheraton Petaluma urging the hotel to increase wages and guarantee workers existing contract provisions in case the hotel is ever sold.
The decision comes after a 4-3 vote Monday night over how to support the ongoing labor negotiations between hotel management and employees, which has been ongoing since 2010.
Councilmembers Teresa Barrett, Tiffany Renee and Gabe Kearney, along with Mayor David Glass, voted in favor of sending a letter urging gradual wage increases. More importantly, the letter asks the Sheraton to agree to a successor clause that will lock in existing benefits and pay in case the hotel is sold.
Sheraton Petaluma is the only unionized hotel in Sonoma County, where maids, janitors and front desk staff, many of them Latino immigrants, make between $10 to $15 an hour. Workers have not been given a raise over the past two years despite revenue growing by 10 percent last year.
But councilmen Michael Healy, Mike Harris and Chris Albertson said that the hotel and the union, UNITE HERE, should proceed with their negotiations without interference from the city.
“I think labor and management needs to do their own negotiations until an agreement is made,” said Councilman Chris Albertson. “These issues need to be worked out at the table.”
“We’ve had a harmonious relationship with the hotel…we shouldn’t be injecting ourselves at this sensitive time,” said Councilman Harris.
Sheraton Petaluma is owned by Tom Birdsall and father-in-law, Don Green, but union members say it may soon be sold, which is why management is reluctant to agree to a successor clause.
David Scott, the general manager of the Sheraton Petaluma, has told told Patch there are no current plans to sell the hotel.
Councilmen Harris, Healy and Albertson agreed to send their own, modified versions of the letter, in support of the ongoing negotiations.
What do you think? Should the city push the hotel to offer higher wages? Or is doing so bad for business?