For immediate release
September 16, 2010
Hilton's attempts to lock workers into a recession force workers to take a stand
San Francisco – Hilton Union Square hotel workers voted overwhelmingly today, with 74% voting to authorize strikes against their hotel.
Impatience among hotel workers has deepened, as Hilton has tried to make further job cuts and lock workers into recession contracts that raise family healthcare costs, freeze pensions and flatten wages for years to come, even as the hospitality industry rebounds. Among Hilton’s proposals are 40% increases to the already burdensome housekeeping workload, which jeopardizes worker safety and makes recession-driven staffing cuts permanent as business returns.
"Hilton’s business is coming back. Hilton’s investors know it. Hilton’s management knows it. And we know it," says Ringo Mak, a 19-year server at the Hilton Union Square. "It’s time they take responsibility for their growth and bargain in good faith. Otherwise, we’ll have no other option but to strike and boycott."
Hilton Hotels is wholly owned by Blackstone Group, one of the largest private equity firms on Wall Street. Blackstone manages $100 billion on behalf of pension funds and other institutional investors. Blackstone reported $205 million in profit the second quarter this year, a 13.2% increase over the same period last year. The Blackstone Group recently posted its fourth-straight quarterly profit and increased the value of its private-equity holdings by 16%.
Hilton is Blackstone’s largest investment, bought for $26 Billion in 2007. Blackstone has continued buying companies despite the recession, offering $4.7 Billion for energy company Dynegy, Inc. just last month.
Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone’s Chairman, stated in an April 2010 Businessweek article, "We can feel this turnaround in the economy. It’s certainly visible over the last month or two."
Nationwide, the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than expected, with a hearty rebound projected in 2011 and 2012. Despite these trends showing a strong recovery for the hotel industry, hotels are still trying to lock workers into permanent recessionary contracts.
Unite Here! Local 2 is the union of hotel and food service workers in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. It represents about 12,000 workers in the hospitality industry.