As the President of the Santa Monica Democratic Club for the past two years, I have seen our community rally together behind our collective Santa Monica values despite living in troubling times which test our resolve daily.

After the Parkland shootings, an eighth grade student organized a march on Montana Avenue which attracted thousands of participants. When white nationalists showed up to instigate trouble at a meeting on racial justice, a human chain was formed to keep these disruptors away. And when the midterm elections came around, hundreds of concerned Santa Monicans came together from across the political spectrum to flip seven US House seats in California and, ultimately, control of Congress.

Today, we find another of our core Santa Monica values tested with the upcoming vote before City Council on a package of four provisions which would keep our housekeepers, the backbone of our city’s critical tourism industry, safe from abuse. Hotel room attendants who work alone face risks of sexual assault from customers and employers as well as other risks unique to their workplace. In the age of “locker room talk,” these women came forward and were told to be quiet. The residents of Santa Monica must stand up for these workers, who contribute so much to our economy, and demonstrate that we value their dignity.

Thursday’s opinion piece, “Hidden Costs” by the Chamber of Commerce, was full of misinformation designed to protect the hotels’ owners, not their workers. Our hotel industry is highly profitable, generating more than twice the revenue of Long Beach and Oakland, both of which recently passed similar ordinances. The piece also diminishes the workers, suggesting that they don’t know how to schedule and manage their time. In truth, no one understands how to perform these jobs better than the workers who do them.

Santa Monica has, time and time again, demonstrated that it leads the way forward on workers’ rights: It was just a few years ago that our $15/hour minimum wage law became the model for the entire Los Angeles region. We have the opportunity this month to reaffirm our Santa Monica values and stand up for women in the workplace.

Let’s hope the City Council will do the right thing on August 27th and vote to protect housekeepers, not hotel owners.

Jon Katz President, Santa Monica Democratic Club

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