Former Mayor Nat Trives Accuses Unions of Intimidating Family Restaurants
"last Tuesday night, our City Council made a troubling decision regarding "labor peace agreements"
November 5, 2017
Dear Fellow Santa Monicans,
I'm writing to you about an issue that affects virtually every member of our community. The issue of "labor peace agreements" threatens the livelihoods of local business owners and many of the people they employ. When they are impacted, you and I are impacted.
I've been a member of this community for 68 years, having been a member of six unions, and served as Vice President of California's largest police union. I strongly believe in supporting workers' right to organize themselves, and as a former Mayor of this City understand our City Council's desire to keep the peace on City property.
However, last Tuesday night, our City Council made a troubling decision regarding "labor peace agreements" or LPAs. An LPA forces any restaurant that leases City property to enter into a contract that opens the door to forced unionization of employees. An LPA would permanently change the way these neighborhood-serving restaurants operate, alter their bonds with their employees and change the ways they serve the community. Despite hearing from dozens of speakers, unanimously opposed to LPAs, the Council voted to move the city one step closer to the adoption of the LPA requirement.
What deeply concerns me about it is that the push for LPAs isn't driven by local restaurant workers looking to organize against bad employers. Instead, it's coming from an outside organization that is seeking to force workers to give up their right to a private vote to unionize, instead making that process visible to their fellow employees and to paid union organizers through the "card check" requirement in the LPA.
This will open the process to coercion, intimidation, and deception. While it may be a necessary evil when looking to break some large industry employer with a history of bad employment practices, this requirement is overreaching and completely unnecessary in our local restaurants, whose owners are leaders in Santa Monica's progressive business community, and supported the city in its recent minimum wage increase. Keep in mind that Federal law already protects workers' rights to organize themselves if they wish to do so. Workers are also protected under the City's current leasing guidelines.
During my tenure on City Council, we paved the way for many of the character-defining elements of our community like the Pier and the Promenade. This requirement from the union would greatly harm the independent businesses and our uniquely Santa Monica character.
Last week the Santa Monica Daily Press reported on the union's recent picketing at Spitfire Grill, and how the union has tried to intimidate Santa Monica's outstanding restaurant workers. That article can be found here. And let's be clear: the protests are not made of employees seeking to organize themselves, but of the union representatives seeking to force the City's hand on this issue. We should not let longstanding, good employers who have dedicated their careers to Santa Monica be bullied by a union that does not represent their employees.
It's not too late to act. The LPA requirement has not yet been adopted. City Council needs to hear that unions don't belong in "mom and pop" restaurants, some of the strongest threads in our community fabric. Contact your Councilmembers at [email protected] and urge them to reject the union's ill-conceived effort to control City property.
Former Mayor Nat Trives
Nathaniel Trives is a former mayor of Santa Monica. Trives is also a former Santa Monica police officer who served on the Santa Monica City Council from 1971 to 1979. He served as mayor from 1975-77.