(Los Angeles) -" Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, UNITE HERE! Local 11 President Maria Elena Durazo, Mark Liberman of LA INC., hotel workers and general managers conducted a news conference to announce the results of a ratification vote on a new collective bargaining agreement and to end the hotel boycott and invite businesses, conventioneers and tourists to come to Los Angeles.
With help and mediation from Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, a tentative contract deal was reached last Saturday, morning at 4:55 a.m., five minutes before a scheduled lock-out, ending 14 months of labor turmoil.
Hotel workers voted at the seven luxury hotels yesterday and overwhelmingly ratified the contract with a 98 percent vote in favor of a 2006 contract. Under the deal, "non-tipped" hotel employees will get wage increases totaling 65 cents per hour over a 31-month period ending on Nov. 30, 2006, with some raises retroactive. Housekeepers, bellhops, servers, pbx operators, among other workers will keep current employee benefits and free healthcare will be maintained under the agreement.
The contract will end in the same year as contracts with hotels in other major cities like New York City, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Sacramento, Monterey, and Honolulu.
"The workers fought very hard for the past 14 months, because they understood the value of aligning their contract with those of other major cities, as they understood the value of keeping free health care for them and their families," said Durazo.
In the meantime, the $1 million dollar settlement of unfair labor practices includes:
– Repayment of the $40 monthly co-pays, which workers were forced to pay to keep their health benefits, (with 10 percent interest).
– Payment to the workers health and welfare fund (More than half a million dollars)
– Covering the expenses of the workers who lost health care coverage and currently owe medical bills
However, the settlement does not cover the unfair labor practices of four employees that were discharged as a result of the labor dispute, -�we will allow the NLRB to decide on those cases,-� said Tom Walsh Secretary-"Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 11. The cases are still under investigation.
As a result of the agreement, the union has called-off the boycott and joined the mayor and the hotel employers council in inviting meeting planers and tourist back to Los Angeles.
The contract covers 2500 housekeepers, bellmen, front desk workers, banquet servers, cooks and other workers at these hotels: Hyatt West Hollywood, Westin Bonaventure, Sheraton Universal, Regent Beverly Wilshire, the Westin Century Plaza, the Wilshire Grand, and the Millennium Biltmore.