Pos­si­ble ho­tel con­ver­sion draws union com­plaint

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Hugo Martin hugo.martin@la­times.com

A la­bor union for ho­tel work­ers has filed a com­plaint with the Na­tional La­bor Re­la­tions Board, ac­cus­ing the Chi­nese owner of a pop­u­lar Santa Monica ho­tel of fail­ing to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about a po­ten­tial con­do­minium con­ver­sion at the prop­erty.

Unite Here, the union for ho­tel work­ers, said the group re­quested in­for­ma­tion about the new owner of the Loews Santa Monica Beach Ho­tel be­cause its mem­bers worry that a con­ver­sion to con­do­mini­ums would put 250 ho­tel em­ploy­ees out of work.

Unite Here said it made the re­quest in May from the new owner, An­bang In­sur­ance Group, and three of its af­fil­i­ates, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about the owner’s fi­nances, ho­tel man­age­ment agree­ments and po­ten­tial con­ver­sion plans. The group said it has yet to get a re­sponse.

The fear of a con­ver­sion was prompted when Ang­bang pur­chased the ven­er­a­ble Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ho­tel New York in 2015 and be­gan a three-year process of con­vert­ing it into 400 lux­ury con­do­mini­ums.

Also, An­bang an­nounced two months ago that its chair­man, Wu Xiao­hui, was step­ping aside tem­po­rar­ily for “per­sonal rea­sons” and that he had au­tho­rized “rel­e­vant se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to con­tinue run­ning the busi­ness.”

The an­nounce­ment came hours af­ter news re­ports that Wu had been taken by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties from the An­bang of­fices. In the last two weeks, re­ports sur­faced that Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have asked An­bang In­sur­ance to sell its overseas as­sets. The govern­ment asked An­bang to bring the pro­ceeds back to China af­ter dis­pos­ing of hold­ings abroad, ac­cord­ing to anony­mous sources quoted by Bloomberg News.

Unite Here said fed­eral la­bor laws give unions ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion that could af­fect union­ized work­ers at ho­tels. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for An­bang In­sur­ance Group could not be reached for com­ment.

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