The Emeryville Tattler turned five in February and we're re-posting some of our favorite stories and the reader's favorites during our month-long celebration. As the news cycle permits, look to see some of these oldies but goodies re-blasted.
We continue the celebration with a piece from Tuesday January 11, 2011.
Republican Party apparatchik and Christian evangelical Sam Hardage, CEO of Woodfin Suites Hotels had just been forced by Emeryville (and the courts) to pay his Emeryville workers their back wages as mandated by Emeryville's Measure C, the 'living wage for hotel workers'. City Council members (except Ruth Atkin) all fought against Measure C before the election but were obliged to enforce it once Emeryville voters passed it. Mr Hardage spent far more on attorney fees fighting Emeryville then he owed his workers. The victory for Emeryville culminated in the wages being distributed to the workers after a nearly five year battle including big weekly protests in front of the hotel on Shellmound Street and the largest protest march in Emeryville history (from the hotel to City Hall) . After his defeat, Mr Hardage decided he had enough of Emeryville and he sold the hotel to Hyatt House and left town with his tail between his legs.
Here's the story, one of our faves:
Woodfin CEO & Christian Evangelical Laments:
In Emeryville It's
Woodfin Workers: 1, Jesus: 0
Woodfin Hotels CEO Sam Hardage tries to do the Lord's work. A self-professed Christian evangelical, he's a member of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing group pushing what it terms Christian precepts on policy-makers. It's also why Mr. Hardage fought so hard against Emeryville's 'Living Wage ordinance for Hotel Workers' and then refused to disburse unpaid wages, even after ordered to do so by a 'secular' court. As a good Christian, Mr. Hardage was presumably following Christ's example. After all Jesus would certainly never have paid His workers what they earned if He had owned a hotel chain back in the day in the Bethlehem/Nazareth metropolitan region. Mr. Hardage put up a good fight but in the end the Woodfin workers proved more than a match for Sam or Jesus.
Sam Hardage: Works
for Jesus and against
The non-profit organization East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), recently announced that Woodfin workers finally received their back pay, some $125,000 in a negotiated agreement divided among 54 workers. Woodfin for its part, hired a phalanx of attorneys and fought the workers and the City of Emeryville for four years in an effort to impose upon the employees the moral philosophy of Jesus Christ: that the wealthy dwell upon a mountain of riches and dispatch the less fortunate to penury and pestilence. Mr. Hardage and Woodfin spent an undisclosed sum on their losing cause, a figure likely exceeding what was owed to the hotel maids. After their bruising loss, they have indicated they now intend on obeying Emeryville's laws.
Not too fond of
Measure C, the ordinance that mandates a living wage for hotel workers in Emeryville was passed by voters and implemented five years ago in December. During that time, Measure C has delivered a cumulative 1.2 million increase in employee wages. The ordinance increased the pay-rates by up to $5 per hour (most received less), putting up to $5,000 a year into the wallets of working families, helping them make ends meet without relying on public assistance.
Ken Bukowski: He's poor so
why should workers make money?
The Measure was passed by Emeryville voters on November 8, 2005 and was endorsed by the Alameda Labor Council, UNITE HERE Local 2850, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Assemblywoman Loni Hancock. 54% of Emeryville voters approved Measure C despite $115,000 spent by the Chamber of Commerce and the hotels to defeat it. Local politicians who worked to defeat the living wage in Emeryville include Council members Nora Davis, Ken Bukowski and Dick Kassis. Political operative and Chamber of Commerce political action committee (EMPAC) chairman John Gooding also joined in the fight against the living wage. See Tattler story (May 18).
Another loser: John Gooding,
strangely he works for Barbara Lee
and against living wages.
Mr. Hardage, in addition to spreading Jesus' word, has sat on many conservative councils and public policy think-tanks including the Council for National Policy, an umbrella organization for social conservative activists described by the New York Times as a "little known group of the most powerful conservatives in the country". Mr. Hardages' colleagues on the CNP board included Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Mr. Hardage also sits on the board at the Adam Smith Institute, an anti-government libertarian think tank that is among the most effective groups advocating for privatization of government functions in the United States. Rounding out the list of powerful appointments is the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed State Commission on Judicial Performance.
Mr. Hardage was the Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas in 1982 and was twice an elite 'Bush Pioneer,' the highest echelon of campaign donors that each bundled contributions of more than $100,000 for former President George W. Bush campaigns.
The impressive political work of Mr. Hardage was joined by our own Emeryville City Council members and Jesus in their fight against living wages for Emeryville workers.