Familiar faces will be staffing The Regent Santa Monica Beach when it opens this year in the former Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel property.
Nearly 300 of the hotel’s staff members were laid off when Loews closed in early March. After a nine month renovation period, the new owner, IHG, and operator, Strategic Hotels, recently committed to hiring these workers.
This commitment is part of an agreement reached this week between the companies and UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that represents the hotel’s workers. The agreement also includes fully paid family health insurance, a $3.00 an hour pension contribution and two weeks of penalty pay if the renovations are not completed on schedule.
“We fought hard for this extraordinary agreement,” said Ligia Rivas, who worked at Loews as a room attendant for 11 years. “While we are nervous about how we will survive during this layoff, knowing that our families will have health insurance and we will continue to build our pension is an enormous relief.”
UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Kurt Peterson said nearly 200 workers attended bargaining sessions on the matter.
“I think that sent the message to the company that this is a very important negotiation, so I feel like the workers delivered the message that they wanted a very fair settlement,” he said.
While Peterson said he expects the vast majority of the former Loews employees to return to staff the Regent, those who don’t want to or who are nearing retirement will be offered a severance package of up to $150,000 as part of the agreement.
“We’re proud of that too, that if they choose to, if they’re near retirement, they will be able to have money to help them begin their new chapter in their lives.”
When the Regent opens, the workers will continue to be represented by UNITE HERE 11.
“They know that they will be able to come back to work when the hotel reopens under a union contract,” he said. “We believe that all workers, whether they’re hotel workers or executives, deserve that kind of respect and that’s what this agreement is, respecting the job they’ve done and welcoming them back to continue to do their wonderful job of treating guests as if they were family.”