Don Bauder 9:30 p.m., July 25
Emeryville Hotel Workers, 300 Strong, March on City Hall, Claiming San Diego Company Owes Them Back Wages
The Emeryville city council last night (Nov. 17) deferred until Dec. 1 a decision on back pay that workers at Woodfin Hotel say they are owed. Some 300 of the immigrant workers purportedly marched on city hall last night to protest their alleged treatment. They claim that Woodfin, a part of San Diego's privately-held Hardage Suite Hotels, owes them a collective $200,000. The dispute results from the 2005 passage of a living wage ordinance mandating that hotels pay employees a minimum wage of $9 an hour; workers who clean more than 5,000 square feet of floor space should get overtime pay. In September of 2006, Woodfin workers said they were not getting paid in accordance with the legislation. The City investigated and in August of 2007 ordered Woodfin to pay back wages. The City and Woodfin sued each other; Woodfin said that it was then complying with the law, but was getting punished retroactively. A state court judge upheld the law's constitutionality, but said the procedure must be redone. In August of this year, Emeryville issued a revised back wage order. Woodfin appealed, leading to the hearing. Hardage Suite Hotels manages 17 Woodfin and Chase Suite Hotels and owns all but one. The company is 100 percent owned by the family of Rancho Santa Fe's Sam Hardage. A unit of Tokyo's Nomura, the big investment house, once owned 35 percent, but there were disputes that led to a breakup of that relationship, according to published information. The company has $59.8 million in annual revenue, according to Dun & Bradstreet.