For immediate release
February 14, 2005
- Who: Hundreds of hotel workers, members of UNITE HERE, Local 2
- What: Picket Line
- When: Valentine’s Day, Monday, February 14, 2005 at 4:15pm
- Where: St. Francis Hotel, 335 Powell Street at Union Square
- Visuals: Street Theater featuring Saint Valentine and St. Francis
On Valentine Day, Saint Valentine comes to San Francisco to have a “heart to heart” talk with Saint Francis about the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group’s “cold hearted” contract proposals which would force hotel workers to pay a substantial amount for their health care and would deny hundreds of others health care benefits. Local 2 members will melt a large heart shaped ice sculpture, representative of the MEG’s cold-hearted approach to contract negotiations.
Background: Thousands of San Francisco hotel workers continue to work without a union contract since their last contract expired August 14, 2004. On September 29, Local 2 commenced a two-week strike at four hotels. It was a measured response to the lack of progress at the bargaining table. Ten other Multi-Employer Group hotels immediately locked out their employees. When the two-week strike ended, the 14 MEG hotels continued the lockout despite the urging of Mayor Gavin Newsom and other elected and community leaders to end the lockout at once. A 60-day cooling off period commenced as negotiations continued. Despite the fact that the hotels are making huge profits — CitiCorp estimates combined profits for Marriott, Starwood and Hilton alone will be $1.4 billion in 2005, $1.8 billion in 2006 and $2.1 billion in 2007 – the MEG insists on keeping concessionary proposals on the table.
On 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. The Valentine’s Day picket line, the first picket line since the lockout ended, is intended to ask hotel guests to patronize other hotels.
The MEG hotels lost considerable income during the strike and lockout. Based on data collected by Smith Travel Research, Local 2 estimates that the hotels lost at least $25 million during the strike and lockout.
The hotels being boycotted are: Argent, Crowne Plaza Union Square, Fairmont San Francisco, Four Seasons San Francisco, Grand Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn Civic Center, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Mark Hopkins, Omni San Francisco Hotel, Sheraton Palace Hotel, and Westin St. Francis.