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California Democrat hopes to pass “On Our Knees” to limit hotel maid’s duties

The California State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee moved Senate Bill 432 “On Our Knees” one step closer to the governor’s desk. The proposed legislation is hoping to outlaw hotel maid’s requirement that makes them perform unsafe housekeeping duties like cleaning bathroom floors and making a bed without fitted sheets.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The hotel industry mounted an aggressive push back, but it failed to derail the bill as the California State Senate approved the injury-prevention bill on June 1.

According to a press release, the hospitality industry lobby has slammed the bill as another example of California’s “over legislating” and just another reason business is fleeing the bankrupt state.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. was the first large hotel chain to announce its opposition to the legislation. However, the bill’s author was not buying into any of the hotel’s regulation claims.

“The hotels change their sheet inventory frequently. There will be no added expense,” said Democratic Senator Kevin de Leόn (D-22). “All we ask is that when the hotels make their next purchase, half of the sheets be fitted. It is a minor action for them but a major benefit to employee health, safety, happiness and productivity.”

Senator de Leόn went on to describe maid duties as “degrading work” in his press release. “Hotel housekeepers frequently clean bathroom floors on their hands and knees, a degrading practice that is tolerated by too many hotel employers.”

It is de Leόn’s assertion that maid’s back-breaking work requires hotel housekeepers to regularly clean floors on their knees. “The practice, combined with the failure to provide fitted sheets like those used in homes, has led to an unacceptable rate of back and other work-related injuries.”

A study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2009) by researchers from four universities and UNITE HERE, a housekeeper union, said hotel maids suffered the highest injury rates of any hotel employees.

“We scrub floors, clean toilets, and lift heavy mattresses to change sheets,” said Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood. “The beds are too heavy, and with flat sheets, you have to lift the mattress to tuck the sheet under. By the time I’m on my sixth or seventh room my hands are aching. Everybody uses fitted sheets at home. Why are the hotels the exception?”

Complaints from maids received mixed reviews from hotel patrons. “When I check into a hotel I don’t expect to be handed a toilet brush and clean sheets as a part of my hotel experience,” said Nancy Hoover.

However, the housekeepers union seems to think hotel owners need to provide alternative cleaning duties for maids who perform so-called demeaning cleaning tasks.

“I live and work in constant pain,” said Gilda Vallejo, a 13-year housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. “My back and shoulders throb from the repetitive lifting. Simple solutions like fitted sheets could help relieve some of the pressure and make our jobs safer.”

Some hotels, like the downtown LA Marriott, have compromised and provide fitted sheets for all of their beds. “In the Marriott Downtown LA, we use fitted sheets, and the housekeepers love them,” Teresita Cain said. “Fitted sheets are easier on our bodies.”

While that may be true, if the proposed hotel regulation passes, motel guests in the Golden State may have to ask; “Am I responsible for cleaning my room and how much will I be paid for the service?”

Senate Bill 432 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in Sacramento.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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California’s governor hopeful Poizner – climbs in the polls

In what’s shaping up to be another Massachusetts-like race California governor-hopeful Steve Poizner’s poll numbers are rapidly rising late in the primary race. A month ago Poizner’s bleak poll numbers had him more than 50 points behind fellow Republican and former CEO of EBay Meg Whitman.

At a tea party event in Oceanside, California last week, Poizner said, “Meg Whitman has spent $50 million to win the governorship and she will peak too soon.” A week later the prediction appears to be true.

According to a recent Capitol Weekly Poll, Poizner trails Whitman 47-19 with one-third of voters still undecided. However, the most recent ABC poll has Poizner just 22 points behind Whitman.

While these numbers may seem daunting, one only needs to look at the Martha Coakley/Scott Brown Senatorial race in Massachusetts and how quickly the polls can change.

Meg Whitman’s free fall continues as Poizner has now shaved 28 points off of her lead in a matter of weeks. A new poll from SurveyUSA continues to demonstrate a strong shift in momentum for Poizner. In spite of spending more than $50 million on negative ads against Poizner, Whitman is beginning to lose support with each passing day, while Poizner begins his ascent with the grassroots voters.

“Meg Whitman has spent record amounts of her Wall Street billions to tell a record number of lies, but all of Goldman Sachs’ money and all the Queen’s men won’t be enough to put this rookie candidate back together again. Seven years ago, Republicans were fooled by marketing and a celebrity. It isn’t happening twice,” explained Jarrod Agen, the communications director for Poizner.

Pollster Ben Tulchin of Capitol Weekly says the results could pose some trouble for Whitman. “She’s ahead, but compared to other polling that’s out there, her numbers have dropped,” Tulchin said. “She’s spent a lot of money and she’s under 50 percent.”

It is statements like this that keeps Poizner pushing and seeking key endorsements.

One such endorsement comes from Conservative stalwart Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA). During a conference call McClintock pointed to a few reasons why he will support Poizner for California’s governor. “We simply cannot afford anymore Republicans in name only in California. Meg is nothing more than a Schwarzenegger third term.”

If Whitman were to win the primary, McClintock said Californians would have two choices, a third term of the current governor or a third term of Jerry Brown.

“California’s recent history has the state with the largest deficits and largest tax increases all under Republican watch. California Republicans need to wake up,” McClintock said. “Voters need to fight for the soul of the Republican Party.”

This is where the grassroots tea party movement comes into play. In primary races throughout the country, establishment candidates are finding it tough to gain the trust of the voters. An example of this is the Florida Senatorial primary. Establishment Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, trails his Senate opponent Marco Rubio who has earned the support of tea party voters.

The tea party movement sets themselves apart from other groups in several key categories. According to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, tea party folks are better educated than most Americans; they make a higher than average salary and most describe themselves as conservative.

Congressman McClintock couldn’t agree more; “they (tea party) are one of the most sophisticated electorate and they know enormous damage has been done and they are looking for a candidate who is for smaller government, conservative spending and their political record.”

The Congressman explains that the country is seeing a 1994-like groundswell of unknown candidates beating incumbents or anti-establishment contenders coming forward.

Luckily for relative political newcomers it’s their record and values not the dollars in the bank that is resonating with angry voters. These discontented constituents are paying attention to details, researching candidates and watching debates.

This bodes well for the Poizner camp who claims the former EBay executive’s TV messaging simply isn’t resonating with Californians. Agen points to Whitman’s reluctance to embrace conservative Republican values as one of the reasons for her sliding poll numbers.

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California’s economic woes continue to grow with unemployment

Unemployment in the golden state hit new record highs with 12.6 percent of Californians looking for a job. California’s high unemployment numbers fall behind Michigan, 14.1 percent, Nevada, 13.4 and ties the state for third with Rhode Island; this is not welcome news for Democrats as the upcoming campaign rhetoric picks up.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says his office was encouraged but pointed out in a statement that California needs to focus on training employees and provide employers new/more incentives to hire Californians.

Chief economist for the State Department of Finance, Howard Roth, explained that he thinks the unemployment rate in California appears to be near its peak.

While this is seen as a victory for some political officials, those seeking gainful employment believe the double speak coming from Sacramento rings hollow and until jobless number begin their turnaround all leaders in government need to be mindful of the impending elections.

“While more than 2.3 million Californians are out of work, Barbara Boxer believes taxpayers should foot the bill for the reckless decisions made on Wall Street or in Washington. Voters are suffering from skyrocketing deficits, burdensome unemployment rates, and out-of-control spending thanks to Boxer and the Democrats in Washington, and our country simply cannot afford to keep bailing out the banks for their reckless financial decisions,” said Amber Marchand of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “more than 2.3 million Californians are still unemployed. The struggle for some is about to get tougher. Tens of thousands have been out of work so long, they will see their unemployment checks cut off within the next few weeks.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talked about the fact that unemployment numbers generally lag behind the market recovery process. When it came to the new restructuring of the Wall Street big wigs, Geithner stressed that a Financial Services Committee hearing suggested a “standing fund would create expectations the government would step in to protect shareholders and creditors from losses,”

For those 100,000 Californians who are about to exhaust their unemployment benefits this week, bailouts for anyone other than the little guy come as no comfort.

California’s primary is set for June and jobs remains at the top of every candidate campaign stump speech, however there is a big difference between rhetoric and actual policy to put the golden state residents back to work.

The economic uneasiness in California has Senator Boxer in an extremely tight race and the thought of losing another senate seat in a similar fashion as Massachusetts has prompted President Obama to headline a fundraiser for Boxer later today.

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