Rebuttal OpEd | Meister was deciding vote against minimum wage

In her September 16th op-ed, Mayor Lauren Meister defends the vote she and Councilmember John Duran took on March 21, 2016 against raising the citywide minimum wage to $15 an hour. UNITE HERE Local 11 PAC sent information to voters about her vote. Larry Block, in his op-ed “The Race Is On,” writes that UNITE HERE Local 11’s argument of was “not an honest message” because “Duran was not on the City Council at the time of the vote.”

Alan Strasburg, another WEHOville writer, went further, calling the claim “an outright lie”. These are outrageous allegations given that both the link in our text message and the footnote on the mailer both cite WEHOville’s own reporting showing that Meister and Duran did in fact vote against the $15 minimum wage.

The biggest problem for Block and Strasburg is that Mayor Meister herself admits she and Duran took this vote. Let’s look at the history. By 2016, the City of Los Angeles was already on its way to a $15 minimum wage, which was the result of the great risks low wage service workers had taken in the “Fight For $15” movement. Many other neighboring cities were joining in on this common-sense legislation, and West Hollywood had a chance to support the movement at that important juncture. Instead Meister and Duran undercut the Los Angeles effort.

Meister writes: 

“Why would Council risk hurting our small businesses when we could offer a compromise to accommodate both workers and businesses as well as a commitment to continue the conversation?”

Mayor Meister acknowledges the truth of our claim: “John Duran & Lauren Meister Voted AGAINST raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.” In 2016 Meister and Duran cast two of the three votes that prevented West Hollywood from following the example of Los Angeles.  Lindsey Horvath and John Heilman voted in favor of the $15 minimum wage. If either Meister or Duran had voted the other way, the $15 wage could have prevailed. Their votes were decisive.

As a result of Meister’s vote, West Hollywood hospitality workers made less than workers across the street in Los Angeles. Her “compromise” hurt West Hollywood’s lowest paid service workers, who make up the backbone of the city’s economy. The “commitment to continue the conversation” only happened when new leadership was elected to the Council that championed raising the minimum wage.

Meister and Duran’s votes were so bad that the Miracle Mile Democratic Club admonished both of them. The club circulated a petition that said: 

“The Miracle Mile Democratic Club is deeply disappointed in the actions of Mayor Pro Tem Lauren Meister … and Councilmember John Duran in opposing this essential component of building a more equal society.” 

Meister points out that our Union once supported her, and that is true. There was a time when both John Duran and Lauren Meister represented change, but now they have become so beholden to the Chamber of Commerce that their positions are out of touch with working people and renters in West Hollywood. They both opposed the Hotel Worker Protection law, which protects housekeepers from sexual assault and ensures fair pay for their work.  

Meister maligns unions, calling them “special interests”, but is happy to receive an endorsement from an organization led by wealthy corporations. Union members are not a special interest. We put pooled our time hard-earned money to have a voice in our jobs and our political system.  Hundreds of our members took leaves from their jobs to save our Democracy from Donald Trump by working for months in the desert heat of swing states like Arizona in 2020, and we are doing it again now for the midterms. The political efforts of housekeepers, cooks, and servers should be celebrated in West Hollywood.

We have chosen to support Chelsea Byers, Robert Oliver and Zekiah Wright for City Council because they do celebrate the voices of hospitality workers. When it comes to working families, Duran and Meister just don’t act like Democrats, and that’s why we are voting for new leadership.

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About Danielle Wilson and Jorge Seperak
Danielle Wilson is a UNITE HERE Local 11 organizer and WeHo resident. Jorge Seperak is hotel worker and 20-year WeHo resident.

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JF1
JF1
6 days ago

Unite Here…GET OUT of our city! We know what you’re all about and you’re not fooling anyone. We will NOT let you control our city.

WeHo conscience
WeHo conscience
8 days ago

UNITE HERE local 11 have become malign actors in WeHo. Instead of union organizing, they are trying to manipulate and push around our little city. You are power hungry outsiders. You do not represent nor do you serve the interests of this city. Leave our town!

Edie
Edie
8 days ago

Minimum waged jobs have historically been starter jobs for kids in high school. Now that businesses have to pay so much,,, especially restaurants, who already have a really low profit margin… they can’t afford to higher inexperienced people. We’d have a lot less crime and filth on the streets if teenagers were working like we all did in the 70’s and 80s’.

Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
8 days ago

Good. Minimum wage and rent control are scams designed to keep you broke and on the government dole.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
9 days ago

I hate unions!

And I hate that anyone other than a business owner gets to determine what wage he is going to pay his employees. He should pay what the job is worth to him, guided by market forces. The market discipline’s itself. Competition will take care of all the issues.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
11 days ago

You have chosen to support Chelsea Byers, whom this very paper called out as a raging anti-semite, aligned with an organization committed to the destruction of Israel. That doesn’t do much for your credibility

Eric
Eric
10 days ago
Reply to  Jason Smith

and to date Byers has not addressed this.

JF1
JF1
6 days ago
Reply to  Eric

She seems proud of the fact that she’s an anti-semite! Spread the word….

tired of this fighting
tired of this fighting
10 days ago
Reply to  Jason Smith

“whom this very paper called out as a raging anti-semite” this presumes ACCURACY on the part of Wehoville and journalistic standards are not in generally in evidence from this source

Concerned citizen
Concerned citizen
11 days ago

Unite Here is behind the drive to defund the police in West Hollywood, allowing violent crime to spin completely out of control. We must constantly defend our city against outside influences like this, they are a pernicious and dangerous element

Joshua88
Joshua88
11 days ago

The vote was taken but the action has not yet happened, so how did it *allow violent crime to spin completely out of control?*

Your statements are *pernicious and dangerous.* You should learn the facts before you write this nonsense and face opprobrium.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
10 days ago

Yeah okay comments like these show how much misinformation has gotten out there about police and crime in West Hollywood.

Unbelievable.

JF1
JF1
6 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

shows how much some of the gullible public will eat up the spin that the council and the union throws out there.

Mike Carter
Mike Carter
11 days ago

I am a union member and support unionism. I have supported Mayor Lauren Meister for two terms and will support her in another. That said and with good conscience, I cannot support the Local 11 triumvirate of candidates. I cannot and will not “put all my eggs in one basket” because of the unwillingness of our local hotel workers to sign cards and organize themselves. The sum total of experience in running a city sported by the Local 11 slate of candidates is below the threshold of any reasonable standard and poses the risk of haphazard and unreasonable, half-baked resolutions… Read more »

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
12 days ago

https://wehoville.com/2019/03/18/opinion-weho-should-be-wary-of-unite-here-local-11s-growing-influence/ Ms. Wilson seems to IGNORE the fact that not all members of Local 11 are pro union. In fact, WATCH this video and read this story from UNION members. Perhaps, seeing as West Hollywood has around 20 hotels and only TWO of them are union, Ms. Wilson and the union might want to put their energy AND the members’ PRICEY UNION DUES into negotiating contracts with the hotels instead of filling voters’ mailboxes with mudslinging and misleading information about Mayor Lauren Meister. The three candidates that the union is pushing with negative ads AGAINST THEIR OPPONENT might want to… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
11 days ago

Government’s role here is to level the playing field and ensure fair play, it is not to tip the scales in one direction or the other. Wilson seems to take particular umbrage in references to her union as a special interest. It is a special interest. Any group that seeks to use the wheels of government to influence policy is by definition a special interest. Unite Here continues to exert special interest influence in West Hollywood through the puppets they elect and are attempting to elect using union dues that would be better spent negotiating directly with hotels and other… Read more »

Randy
Randy
11 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

And the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is also a group that seeks to use the wheels of government to influence public policy. Therefore, they are also special interest.

Larry Block
Admin
10 days ago
Reply to  Randy

with all due respect, the Chamber of Commerce is made up of 3 people, all who make less than city hall staffers, and get their dues from members who choose to join so they are have common ground and goals to work with the city on all issues, from the homeless subcommittee to any initiative, a member pays $375 dollars a year, voluntarily, the Union has tens of thousands of members who the mob bosses force money out of the employees paychecks and use strong arm tactics to intimidate businesses. One is ‘universal’, a chamber this is part of every… Read more »

Carolyn Campbell
Carolyn Campbell
8 days ago
Reply to  Randy

#totalfail disparaging three people in the Chamber.

JF1
JF1
6 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

spot on.

More Lies
More Lies
12 days ago

This oped is ridiculous. How is it that Unite Here thought that Meister represented change if she voted against the minimum wage in 2016 and they were so upset about it? The fact is, they endorsed Meister and Horvath as a diversion from who they really wanted to endorse – Sepi Shyne. And why are we talking about 2016 when Meister voted to increase the minimum wage $2+ over $15 less than a year ago? I’m sorry but this oped just goes to just how dishonest Unite Here is.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
12 days ago

Three of five members of council voted one way and two voted another way. That’s democracy. Meister was not the deciding vote despite Wilson’s mathematically challenged spin. The majority decided the vote and that majority included John Duran and John D’Amico. Wilson makes zero effort to engage in the substance of Meister’s sound analysis and reasoning and instead focuses on lazy soundbites of manipulated narratives. Further, I note that the co-author’s residency tenure is listed in the bio line as 20 years while Wilson’s residency tenure is conveniently absent. My guess is that she’s part of the five-minute crowd of… Read more »

Randy
Randy
12 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Both Meister and Duran were the deciding vote. They are the two who are on the ballot. That’s what this op-ed is about. They are leaving D’Amico out, because he’s not on the ballot. I’m not saying I agree, or disagree, with the way Meister and Duran voted back in 2016. But they were both a deciding vote. Either one of them. As far as this election goes, and who are actually on the ballot. I don’t find Danielle Wilson’s tenure in West Hollywood to be relevant, personally. UNITE HERE is not specific to the City of West Hollywood. She… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Randy
Eric
Eric
11 days ago
Reply to  Randy

You cant tell a story and leave part of the information out, thats distorting the facts and spinning it to fit a narrative.

Randy
Randy
11 days ago
Reply to  Eric

I’m curious to know what part of the story left information out?

I ♥️ WeHo
I ♥️ WeHo
12 days ago

It seems that in writing this rebuttal, the idea was “we can’t say anything good about our candidates, so we’ll trash their opponents with lies and innuendo!

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