Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

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By edhat staff

Employees of the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Montecito led a protest on Thursday demanding answers about their employment status.

Nearly 300 employees marched through Montecito, to the resort on Channel Drive, and to its owner Ty Warner's home holding signs and banners. Some read "Furloughed for Far Too Long" and "Shame on Ty Warner," while others stated the individual employee's years of service with some boasting over thirty years of employment.

The luxury resort, who employs over 600 people, has yet to reopen since closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though a majority of local hotels have since opened their doors.

Employees are demanding the company and Warner inform them whether they will be laid off with severance or can go back to work as their access to their healthcare benefits were cut at the end of June. They say a lack of communication has led to mistrust of management. 

A Biltmore representative stated employees are furloughed to allow them to keep their accumulated seniority states, benefits, vacation time, personal time off, and severance compensation when the hotel reopens, reports KEYT News.

The hotel's website states it is temporarily closed but does not have a date of reopening.

(Photo: Brooke Daniels / Tangels Photography)
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SandyS Aug 07, 2020 03:01 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Is it better to be furloughed and keep your benefits when the hotel re-opens or get laid off with severance and lose everything? I don't know. Sticky situation for both sides. Can't they demand to be laid off and/or isn't there some law that says if you are furloughed for "X" amount of time it is equivalent of a lay off? Can't really blame them , now that the extra unemployment benefits will not continue. Not sure where these people will work if they are laid off though. Hope everyone is giving that some thought - the hotel might re-open sooner than they can find new jobs. What a mess.

a-1596838430 Aug 07, 2020 03:13 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Tourism is no longer a growth market. Need to change employment goals. Thank the exaggerated covid scare , which has now gone beyond all reason. Most I know who travel are not making a move, until there is a vaccine. Which means never. Others are buying RV's so they can control their own environment. RV services are the only growth tourism areas I know about.

puppyluv Aug 07, 2020 04:21 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

I was going to call out Ty Warner and his silly and exploitive Beanie Baby empire for this disrespect of his loyal and hard working employees but then I thought I should check to see if he stills owns the Four Seasons. Can someone confirm the truth or falsity that Bill Gates and Prince al-Waleed, and apparently Jeff Henley the Oracle VP who lives in Hope Ranch, puchased the franchise? Jeff also happens to be one of the largest republican Trump donors in SB county per the Independent. I am not certain, but am asking a question. If this is true it makes the situation even more disturbing.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 07, 2020 06:19 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Yeah, forget that guy. It's not like he has employed thousands of Santa Barbara residents for years or anything... or made the bulk of his money all by himself, by making people smile. What a jerk!

a-1596842817 Aug 07, 2020 04:26 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Needs to be an attitude shift from full blown pandemic scare to manageable threat, for tourism to rebound. Works both ways, tourism locations need to see "covid" as manageable threat, along with the future tourists themselves. Slamming shut this recent mini-reopening in California is hardly a step in the right direction for the tourism industry; even though the real "covid" threat is now far more understood and manageable today, than back in March. People spend vacation money to have care free times - that is not the current mindset right now. Don't know what the package will be that will make this change - a combination of any and all: a vaccine, new metrics, accepted therapuetics, time and forgetting, new data analysis, new political agenda, or new PPE confidence.

jak Aug 08, 2020 11:46 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

1596842817, at first glance I thought your post was a little wordy but then I re-read it a couple times and you are on to something. The problem I foresee is rooted in the nature of government. Think for a minute about a gas station. They exist to sell people fuel. Anything that increases the demand for fuel is good for them and they will use advertising and gimmicks to try to increase demand for fuel. The government doesn’t deal in fuel. They deal in power and control. They benefit from increased demand for power and control. Coronavirus has greatly increased demand for power and control. I worry that to an extent we may be getting played here and it may be continuing longer and more intensely than is ideal.

PitMix Aug 10, 2020 07:44 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Jak, those gas station owners collude to keep the price of gas artificially high. They close down refineries so they can have an excuse to raise prices when one is closed for maintenance. They lobby government for beneficial rules and tax breaks. They are the real power and have the real control over our system. But go ahead and continue to obsess over your government if you want.

RHS Aug 07, 2020 06:22 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Why are we so harsh on naive workers who continue to believe in the BS that corporate magnates care about them? These people are asking for some security and certainty in a topsy-turvy world. Please be empathetic to their problems.

a-1596860655 Aug 07, 2020 09:24 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Most employees today know they are "at will" employees- usually this is made very clear when they sign their contracts. There is no longer life-time job guarantee since the post WWII 1950's, when typically men, who were predominantly the head of the household, were the primary employees. Once women in far greater numbers joined the workforce after 1970's, there were suddenly twice the competition looking for the same numbers of jobs. Hence, the job market shifted dramatically due to this sudden increase in the labor supply.

a-1597078576 Aug 10, 2020 09:56 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Don't forget that we essentially opened the borders to mass immigration in the late '60's that also contributed to an excess of low paid workers for Americans to compete with for jobs.

puppyluv Aug 07, 2020 06:52 PM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Hi SBOB -- Not sure if that was directed toward my comment but are you kidding I loooove the Biltmore. Have had many, many wonderful memories made there. Christmas parties, staycations, just fun post run breakfasts. Would take the fam to lunch and dinner there because the very nice reception people would always give my little ones beanie babies gratis. My kids had at least a 100.
The Biltmore and 4seasons corp is amazing. But the employees are a significant part of that greatness. I just remember very uninformed people actually collecting b-babies (and spending lots of money) as though they would actually appreciate in value - like even the ones in happy meals (sorry I guess that's off topic and it's their stupidity not his) I don't begrudge Ty for his exploitive marketing, or his failure to pay taxes and the part he probably played in getting Channel Drive closed - although the bike only thoroughfare is nice. That was not a sarcastic statement - I don't begrudge him. I don't even know him. I just want to know if he still owns the places because if he doesn't he's not the responsible party. Feel free to delte my comment if it's based online misinformation about the alleged new owners. I read it in the WSJ. I truly hope the Biltmore gets back on it's feet for the sake of everyone. Best wishes.

vvorker Aug 08, 2020 06:47 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

In this weeks Montecito Journal, Ty gives an interview. He said he is concerned about liability if someone gets the cerveza sickness at his property. Although the San Ysidro ranch is open, assume that property is easier to manage for security reasons.
If you get a chance read his unofficial biography, great read! His mom told others that he was smuggling drugs in the bean babies...but it seems he got lucky had had the 1st big hit on the new website in 1995 EBAY!
Also his sister who has over 100 dogs and lives in the forest in Washington, is his only heir, so she will get it soon . I hope he donates his home to the state, and similar to Hearst castle, we could have a bean baby musuem here in town!
I worked for him at SYR for a few years, he is a true charter, they always drove the VW baby blue bug to the ranch. But overall they have affirmative action problems, and over 95% south of the border employees!!
He bought the ranch, because the previous owners got busted by Border Patrol at the time, perhaps he got a letter from ICE recently too!!

sandy1 Aug 10, 2020 09:19 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Trumps next E O should be the corporate C V Liability Waiver and help these people get back to work. My 12 hour a day 6 days a week next door neighbor is/was big wig in supply logistics and has been at home now for 5 months . kind of miss the 5:45 am beep beep of his key Fob every morning.

Eggs Ackley Aug 08, 2020 11:51 AM
Biltmore Hotel Workers Protest Employment Uncertainty

Not that I don’t empathize with the employees as I am in a similar situation but some posts are like:
Hey look, there’s a bus coming, let’s throw Ty Warner under it

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