Former La Playa Hotel workers announced a boycott of La Playa Carmel at a rally more than a year ago on July 6, 2012, in front of the hotel at Camino Real and 8th Avenue, Carmel, California. There have been dozens of public protest actions at the hotel since, the next on September 27, 2013.
“We urge everybody not to patronize La Playa Carmel, until the owner rehires the former workers,” said Noe Hinojosa, 33-year bartender at La Playa Hotel before its change of ownership and closing November 1, 2011. The CEO of the owning company, Classic Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based Grossman Company Properties, was quoted in a recent local paper stating that 3 of the 113 former workers have been rehired. The head of Grossman Company Properties is Chair and founding principal, Sam Grossman. “This is outrageous. Grossman didn’t even invite me for an interview, and there are many others with 15, 20, 30 years of experience with the same story. Grossman hasn’t even had the decency to give us a chance, so we are asking for the community’s help. Please do not patronize La Playa Carmel, and if you’ve already made reservations, please cancel them and visit another Monterey Bay hotel,” added Mr. Hinojosa.
The boycott announcement and rallies are the culmination of nearly two years of conflict over the future jobs of former La Playa Hotel workers. The hotel was previously owned by Nob Hill Properties, a San Francisco-based hotel company, led by John Cope. After the union contract expired on August 1, 2010, the union representing the workers, UNITE HERE Local 483, and Mr. Cope fought over a new contract granting the right of first refusal for jobs to La Playa hotel workers in the event of a sale. The dispute boiled over into the streets with a dozen demonstrations at the hotel involving more than a total of 1,000 community supporters, including a civil disobedience action with 16 arrests in front of the hotel on October 28, 2011. The Cope family chose to sell the hotel without any job security for the workers on November 1, 2011. That is the day Classic Hotels closed the hotel.
Since, the former La Playa hotel workers formed La Playa Hotel Workers for Justice to continue the fight for their jobs. Members of the committee have spoken at Carmel City Council meetings and collected over 1,000 Monterey County resident signatures—most while outside the Carmel post office—calling on Sam Grossman to rehire the workers. With the company announcement of a La Playa Carmel July 2012 opening, the campaign to rehire the workers went back into the streets of Carmel with large rallies and marches. La Playa Hotel Workers for Justice agreed on June 27, 2012, to call for the boycott, later endorsed by UNITE HERE Local 483, the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and the California Labor Federation. There have been dozens of protests involving thousands of participants since.
Local 483 Secretary-Treasurer, Leonard O’Neill, stated, “While the company advertises it is ‘Restoring 100 years of tradition,’ it’s doing the opposite: Destroying 100 years of tradition by dumping the workers who made La Playa Hotel the historic enchanting hotel it once was.”