College Republicans Support Woodfin

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday June 05, 2007

A group of about 10 College Republican counterprotesters came out Saturday to support the Woodfin Suite Hotel in Emeryville, as some 50 demonstrators—separated from the Republicans by a handful of Emeryville Police—condemned the hotel for what they said is the unjust firing of 12 employees and refusal to comply with the city’s Measure C. 

Measure C was an initiative passed by Emeryville voters in November 2005 that guarantees a minimum wage for hotel workers and requires overtime pay for workers who clean more than 5,000 square feet of floor space. The hotel fired 12 workers in April for improper Social Security numbers.  

Hotel supporters say the firing was in retaliation for the workers’ protest around Measure C; management says it is complying with federal law. 

Ryan Clumpner, a senior at UC Davis, told the Daily Planet he came to demonstrate at the Woodfin for the second time to lend “support for a business that is unfairly targeted.”  

Clumpner, who said he and his friends were lodged by the Woodfin, addressed the question of Measure C on the Young Republican’s website, opposing its requirements to pay all employees at least $9 per hour.  

“So much for free markets,” Clumpner wrote. 

Protesters marched with signs calling for back pay—Measure C overtime—and chanted “Si se puede!” [Yes we can], while the Young Republicans taunted the organizers and unions for their support, calling for one of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) organizers by name to go home as they yelled and sang into bullhorns.  

The Young Republicans call EBASE a “front organization” for the unions and say the support for hotel workers is simply a backdoor attempt at organizing them. 

Luz, one of the fired workers who spoke to the Daily Planet through a translator and declined to give her last name, said it was a shame “that people expressed themselves so disrespectfully.” She went on to ask, “If this is the way they treat workers now, how will they treat them when they work later in a big company?” 

Brooke Anderson, an organizer with EBASE, said last week the Emeryville Marriott Hotel, which agreed to abide by Measure C, paid workers back wages owed for Measure C overtime—$5,000 to $9,000 per worker. The Woodfin has not yet agreed to do the same. 

Woodfin spokesperson Eric Schellhorn was not available for comment.