Members Take to Capitol In Support of Bill To Crackdown on the “Sharing-the-Scraps” Economy

Park Central Hotel Steward Kathleen Romero urges State Senators to support SB 593 on May 13.

Park Central Hotel Steward Kathleen Romero urges State Senators to support SB 593 on May 13.

On Wednesday, May 13, Teamsters 856 members Kathleen Romero, Mike Albertin, Eddy Galleguillos, Don Stevens and John Johnson traveled to Sacramento to join local elected officials, hotel workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, retirees and homeowners to urge legislators to vote for a bill that will force home sharing platforms like Airbnb to comply with local laws and pay their fair share.

Why this is important to Teamsters 856 Members

More than 1,000 Teamsters 856 members support themselves and their families by working in the hotel industry. SB 593, authored by State Senator Mike McGuire (Healdsburg), grows from concern that home sharing platforms are allowing people to undercut the hotel industry by breaking long-standing local laws that ban or limit vacation rentals.

New “hotels” are popping up in residential neighborhoods when landlords and homeowners use home sharing platforms to seek tourism dollars instead of opening up their property to the long-term rental housing market. In most cases, these  “hotels” cut costs by failing to pay local occupancy taxes that fund essential services, refusing to carry proper insurance, and replacing jobs typically reserved for unionized hotel workers with low paying domestic workers. In the end, this hurts traditional hotels that abide by local and tax laws, pay workers fair wages, and comport with necessary consumer protections.

“Senator McGuire’s bill is aimed at increasing corporate accountability and protecting good union service and hotel industry jobs throughout California,” said Teamsters 856 Public Policy Coordinator Malia Vella.

An Even Greater Impact 

The impact of this issue also expands well beyond Teamsters working in the hotel industry – apps like Airbnb are constricting the housing supply and driving up rental costs as landlords are finding ways to skirt rent control laws and opting to turn units into high cost short term rentals. In cities like San Francisco where the rental market is already limited and rents are surging out of control, a reduction in the number of available units is catastrophic.

Additionally, all public sector workers are adversely affected when cities do not have access to the data needed to enforce and collect revenue generated by local occupancy taxes.

“Everyone who benefits from the vital public services that Transient Occupancy Taxes provide for – such as well-maintained roads, parks, and police and fire protection – needs to pay their fair share,” said Teamsters 856 Political Director Trish Blinstrub.

Vella concurs. “With this bill, California leads the way in preventing vacation rental companies like AirBnb from side-stepping local ordinances aimed at protecting the quality of life of local residents and enables local governments to better enforce ordinances geared at preventing illegal vacation rentals,” she said.

The Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill 4-2, clearing it to advance to the State Senate floor for a vote.