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NEWPORT BEACH : Bay Club Workers Salute New Talks

Employees of the Balboa Bay Club held a rally at the entrance of their workplace Thursday afternoon to show unity and support for the start of stalled contract negotiations that are slated to resume next week.

“I think it’s really going to show the club that the workers have not forgotten this,” said Angela Keefe, director of organization for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 681. “This is really a way to kick off negotiations and show our unity.”

A few dozen workers paced in front of the gated entrance to the club on Coast Highway, cheering motorists who honked in support and dodging visitors driving in and out of the club.

Carrying picket signs, the group chanted slogans in English and Spanish that asked for fair wages.

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A main issue in contract talks are tips and wages earned by banquet workers. Employees want to keep the tips, but management wants to replace tips and wages with a flat hourly wage.

Currently, workers in the dining areas make about the minimum hourly wage plus tips, with 15% of the tips going to management. Workers are negotiating to keep 100% of their tips, and mangement would rather pay employees a flat $10 hourly wage.

“The tips are important because that’s the way we make our living. That’s the majority of our income,” said Alma Martinez, a banquet server and union member. She said that tips make up about half of her income.

Also to be negotiated are concerns about issues such as seniority rights and grievance-reporting procedures.

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Representatives for Bay Club management were unavailable for comment.

The group has been working without a contract since April. Negotiations stalled last month and will resume Tuesday with a federal mediator.

The union represents about 120 of the club’s employees, who work as housekeepers, kitchen workers, dining room servers and bartenders. The club employs about 200 workers.


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