On Tuesday, May 31, UNITE HERE Local 2 and the Multi-Employer Group (MEG) representing fourteen San Francisco hotels headed back to the bargaining table for the first time in three and a half months. Local 2 members had been waiting for a response to their latest contract offer made to the hotels on February 14th.
The MEG’s latest proposal fails to address any of the core issues for Local 2 members such as continued comprehensive health care, fair wage increases, fully funded pensions and card check neutrality. Instead, the only proposal the MEG made on Tuesday was regarding co-payments for doctor and emergency room visits. The MEG proposed a $10 co-payment per office visit (their previous proposal was $15) and a $20 co-payment for each emergency room visit (their previous proposal was $75 for active members and $50 for retirees). Local 2 members currently pay $5 per office or emergency room visit.
The employers continue to keep proposals on the table that would a) eliminate health care coverage for hundreds of members and their families; b) make no improvement in pensions; and c) fail to provide fair wage increases.
Meanwhile, the boycott of the MEG hotels is having dramatic impact on hotel business. Large convention, conference and meeting customers continue to cancel their events scheduled at the 14 hotels. Most recently, the Young Democrats of America pulled their biennial national convention to be held in August out of the St. Francis Hotel. The Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation moved their 16th Annual Media Awards Event which will be held in June out of the St. Francis Hotel to Fort Mason. Business for Social Responsibility, an organization that helps companies leverage corporate ethical behavior, is moving its 2005 meeting out of the San Francisco Hilton.
Additionally, the American Federation of Teachers, which has a convention of several thousand people scheduled for July 2006, recently sent a letter to the MEG hotels stating that they will move their convention if the labor dispute is not resolved by August 1st. The convention will require 13,000 rooms and is worth $3 – $4 million to the hotels.
Local 2 members and allies continue to hold regular picket lines at the 14 MEG hotels, engage in leafleting at the hotels and participate in delegations to hotel customers to inform the public about the labor dispute and boycott.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for June 8. Local 2’s next large-scale demonstration and picket lines will be held June 9. Participants will congregate on Market Street next to the Four Seasons Hotel at 4:15pm.
Los Angeles–Hotel workers in Los Angeles achieved significant victories in their yearlong contract fight last month. The unity of the L. A. Hotel Employer’s Council (EC) was recently broken when the General Manager of the Wilshire Grand Hotel agreed with Local 11 that the EC hotels should accept the 2004-2006 agreement that the union has already signed with six other L.A. hotels. While legally prevented from negotiating separately with Local 11 by virtue of EC membership, individual EC members can still express opinions as to the course the hotel group should follow in negotiations. As a result, Local 11 has agreed to no longer actively implement the boycott of the Wilshire Grand, which has lost an estimated $2.1 million in revenues. The Wilshire Grand’s action establishes a precedent that other EC hotels may follow.
Second, the EC shrank from eight to seven hotels after the former Hyatt Regency Downtown was acquired by a new owner, who, not being bound by the EC’s rules, signed a 2004-2006 agreement with Local 11. The hotel will now fly a Sheraton flag but will not be operated by Starwood. Moreover, as a signatory to a collective bargaining agreement with Local 11 the hotel will no longer be subject to a boycott.
In the face of the split in the EC, the increasing number of hotels that have signed onto the 2004-2006 contract and the powerful solidarity among Local 11 members, the EC’s recent 4-year proposal, freighted with -�signing bonuses-� and wage improvements, is essentially a dead letter.
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