The recession has put pressure on workers everywhere, but UNITE HERE members are standing together to win strong contracts despite the economic downturn. Over the last month, distribution center workers in Worcester, MA, hotel/casino workers in Puerto Rico, and hotel workers in San Diego, CA, have all ratified strong new contracts.
On Friday, February 5th, a new contract was ratified by UNITE HERE members at the Worcester, MA, TJ Maxx distribution center. Members of the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE ratified the contract by an 88% margin.
The new TJ Maxx contract came after months of solidarity actions among the 800 Worcester workers as well as actions with distribution center workers in other plants owned by TJX Corporation in the New England Area.
TJ Maxx workers in Worcester won a new contract that stopped mandatory overtime, made improvements in wages and health benefits, and made major improvements in contract language giving distribution center workers a voice on the job.
Puerto Rico Hotel Workers scored a major contract victory at the Caribe Hilton, the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, and the El San Juan Hotel and Casino. New union contracts were ratified on Saturday, January 30, 2010, by a combined majority of 97 percent at all three Puerto Rico properties. After the ratification vote, UNITE HERE Local 610 President Felix Mejías commented: "This is obviously a proud and happy day for the membership of our union."
Members of UNITE HERE Local 610 entered into a fight for a new contract nine months ago. At the same time they were fighting for their new contract, UNITE HERE members had to fight back against an attempted raid by SEIU.
The new Puerto Rico hotel contract is a huge victory as every new contract provision represents an improvement for the members. In addition to major economic improvements, most of the fundamental contract provisions relating to the rights of union members and the balance of power between the union and management have been rewritten. Local 610 is now working with its sister unions, Local 6 (New York) and Local 25 (Washington D.C.), to continue building and making improvements.
UNITE HERE Local 30 members recently won a new contract at the Hotel Del Coronado setting a new standard for hotel workers in San Diego. The new contract, the best ever in the history of Local 30 at the iconic Hotel Del, was ratified by over 95% of workers on December 15 and went into effect on Christmas Day.
For over a year, workers at the Hotel Del Coronado fought together for a new contract. The contract fight centered on health care. For years, workers at the Hotel Del faced restrictive eligibility rules that effectively denied access to decent healthcare for hundreds of workers. With the new contract, the Hotel Del will decrease limits on healthcare eligibility and increase funding for health care so that all Hotel Del workers and their families can enjoy decent healthcare coverage.
The new contract also includes greatly improved housekeeping workloads, job security language and organizing rights for non-union workers at the hotel. Hotel Del staff that rely on tips for their income won large increases in their share of banquet gratuities. Wages for Hotel Del housekeepers will rise to $15.25 per hour by the end of contract, setting a great new standard for the rest of the hotel industry in San Diego.
"This contract shows that when workers are united we can win good contracts even in tough times," said Alberto Lopez, a 20 year banquet server at the Hotel Del Coronado. "By setting strong standards in wages and healthcare it is a victory not just for Hotel Del workers, but for all hotel workers in San Diego."