Author Archives for Ann Kammerer

LA Hotel Workers Win Back Free Health Care Coverage

February 24, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

A major victory was won this month in the fight for hotel workers and their families to maintain free family health care coverage. The EC announced that effective immediately in all EC Hotels, the EC will discontinue the $10 weekly co-payment by hotel employees, and return to making contributions on all hours worked and paid for. In addition, any payments made from February 1, 2005 will be refunded.

Since July, approximately 500 hotel workers and their families have lost their health insurance coverage and the EC has collected over $700,000 from hotel workers. Local 11 has always claimed that the $10 weekly co-payments and the impasse were illegal. Delegations and actions have escalated inside the hotels demanding the return of all the money the hotels collected from the workers. "People are really pumped up. Now they know the companies are scared of the power that we have." -"Miguel Aguilar, Chief Shop Steward. This is a major victory for hotel workers in Los Angeles.

UNITE HERE Hotel Contract Campaign Update

February 18, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

San Francisco. On Valentine’s Day, hundreds of Local 2 members hit the streets for a picket line at the St. Francis Hotel. The Valentine’s Day action was the first picket line since the 60-day cooling off period ended and was intended to ask hotel guests to honor the boycott of the 14 Multi-Employer Group hotels and patronize other San Francisco hotels that are not involved in the current labor dispute.

Earlier in the day, the Local 2 Negotiating Committee met with management. The MEG continues to keep concessionary contract proposals on the table.

Last Friday, rank and file union leaders met to plan the next phase of the hotel contract campaign. The plans include an escalation of the boycott against the 14 MEG hotels, which began with the strike and lockout last October. To date, the boycott has been very successful as hotel customers cancel reservations at MEG hotels and take their business to other hotels. Based on data collected by Smith Travel Research, Local 2 estimates that the hotels lost at least $25 million during the strike and lockout.

Los Angeles. Despite the rain, hundreds of workers and community supporters rallied in front of the Westin Century Plaza Hotel on Friday, February 11, 2005. A delegation of community supporters met with the General Manager to show their disgust with the way housekeepers are told to clean guest room drinking glasses and for not signing a fair contract. Each community supporter presented the General Manager with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and told him that they were sick to their stomach when they learned that glasses are cleaned in the bathroom sink with the same chemicals used to clean the toilet. They also said that they wanted this practice to stop immediately. The General Manager agreed and said that the housekeepers no longer have to clean the glasses in the guest rooms. Outside, the public was given a leaflet and a clean, clear plastic cup. The public was notified how glasses are cleaned in the Century Plaza and told that they should use the plastic cup instead of what is in the room, if they stay in the Century Plaza.

Because of Friday’s action, petition, and series of delegations, workers report that the Westin Century Plaza and the Sheraton Universal have removed all glasses from the rooms and are now using Styrofoam cups. The coffee pots, however, remain in the rooms and the housekeepers are cleaning them as usual.

You can keep up with the Hotel Workers Contract Campaign at Hotel Workers United.

UNITE HERE Hotel Contract Campaign Update

February 10, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

San Francisco. The cooling off period agreed to by UNITE HERE Local 2 members in San Francisco and the 14 Multi-Employer Group (MEG) hotels at the end of the lockout ended on January 23, 2005. Local 2 and the hotels negotiated throughout the cooling off period and have continued those negotiations. A bargaining session is scheduled to take place next week.

The boycott of the San Francisco hotels has continued because the members of Local 2 are still working without a contract while the hotels persist in proposing major cuts in healthcare. Through the boycott, Local 2 members are sending the message that they will not accept a reduction in contract benefits while hotels are reporting such high profit margins.

Local 2 hotel workers and allies in San Francisco will hold a rally and picket line in Union Square on Monday, February 14th at 4:30 pm. The rally will highlight the hotel boycott and the workers’ demand that the MEG stop cutting health care in their proposals.

Los Angeles. The Local 11 negotiating committee and the LA Hotel Employer’s Council (EC) met last week to discuss a three-year term proposal that includes significantly improved wages and benefits over the union’s two-year proposal (which remains actively on the table). The EC hotels rejected this offer and called off negotiations, only to announce soon after that they would make a counter proposal later in the afternoon. But the EC counter-proposal represented several steps backward from the hotels’ previous negotiating stand: Rather than being retroactive to April 15, 2004, the hotels proposed a 5-year agreement from the date of agreement, with meager wage and benefit improvements. The hotels also wanted the union to agree, in effect, to a gag order prohibiting any form of economic action against the hotels, including handbilling or placing the hotel’s name on a website or boycott list.

Local 11 made a counterproposal this week with two separate sets of proposals, one for a contact with a 2006 expiration date and another for a contract expiring in 2007. Meanwhile, workers and supporters are preparing to hold a large rally in front of the Westin Century Plaza Hotel on February 11, 2005, to demand a new contract, and to remind the public that they should honor the ongoing boycott. For more information about the rally on February 11, contact Maya Anderson at 213.486.9880 ext. 137.

No Justice, No Peace At LAZ Parking

February 10, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

The Metropolitcan Washington Council reports that workers and their allies in DC, chanting “No Justice, No Peace!,” gathered last Thursday morning in front of the Crown Plaza Hotel to rally in support of LAZ parking workers who are trying to form a union with UNITE HERE to win affordable health care, a livable wage, and a say in their working conditions. LAZ parking was recently awarded a $3.1 million dollar contract to run parking operations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (METRO). Despite this lucrative contract, LAZ launched an aggressive campaign to thwart its employees’ efforts to form a union. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against LAZ parking for unlawfully interrogating an employee. In addition, the union alleges that LAZ illegally fired a worker for trying to form a union. Workers at LAZ say they want to decide for themselves whether or not to form a union, without intimidation, harassment, and coercion. UNITE HERE Local 27 pledges more rallies “until justice is won at LAZ.”

Labor Board Issues Complaints Against Crowne Plaza LaGuardia, Holiday Inn JFK and Hampton Inn JFK

February 4, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

New York, NY–Workers in New York who are in the fifth month of their strike at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia, Holiday Inn JFK and Hampton Inn JFK, received good news this week when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued complaints against the owner of the hotels. The workers at the three hotels went on strike on September 22 in response to a series of unfair labor practices from management, including firing pro-union employees. Since then they have bravely picketed in the cold and through rain and snow. The NLRB has already dismissed management’s objections to the election at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia and certified our Union as the representative of that hotel’s employees. Similar rulings are expected to be issued regarding the other two hotels.

Anti-Sweatshop Victory For Milwaukee Public Schools

February 4, 2005 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

Milwaukee, WI–This week, the Milwaukee Public Schools Board voted unanimously to essentially adopt the City of Milwaukee Ordinance as its own no sweat Policy. This requires that all contracts for apparel be with responsible manufacturers who agree to follow a solid list of requirements as to working conditions and wages. The vote was the result of two years of ongoing talks with representatives of the Board and Administration and the leadership and personal involvement of Board President Peter Blewett and Director Thomas Balistreri.

Local 5 Workers Vote to Create Strike Fund

December 22, 2004 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

Honolulu, HI–In preparation for potential labor disputes ahead, UNITE HERE Local 5 members overwhelmingly voted to contribute to a strike and defense fund. The series of special membership meetings on four islands concluded yesterday with 6 meetings throughout the day at Honolulu’s Blaisdell Center. By a 72% margin, union members voted to amend the union’s bylaws to include a special assessment of $10 per month on all members in the hotel and health care industries for the strike and defense fund. The $10 per month contributions will begin in January 2005 and continue through December 2006. The fund is projected to reach $2 million by the end of 2006. “Workers are under attack, employers everywhere are trying to force workers to pay for increases in medical costs,” said Eric Gill, Local 5’s Financial Secretary-Treasurer. “Health care has been at the core of almost every recent labor dispute in the country and employers are getting more aggressive. Supermarket workers in Southern California, hotel workers in San Francisco and health care workers in Northern California have all been locked-out by their employers. The vote yesterday helps us to be prepared to defend our medical benefits and to continue to fight to improve working conditions.”

Hotel Workers in Philly Rally for a Fair Contract

December 2, 2004 12:00 am Published by Leave a comment

On November 23, more than 500 Local 274 members in Philadelphia held a candlelight vigil and march beginning at the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel and ending with a rally at Love Park. The press reported crowds of more than 1,000. Hotel workers in Philadelphia are entering the eighth week of contract extensions. After numerous bargaining sessions, very little progress has been made in key areas such as comprehensive health care for hotel workers and their families, secure pensions, and fair wage increases. The rally demonstrated to the community the workers’ dedication and commitment to achieving a just and fair contract.