For immediate release
November 18, 2009
Riddhi Mehta firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Lewis email@example.com
Hotel workers at the Westin St. Francis walked off the job this morning, announcing the third three-day strike at a San Francisco hotel in as many weeks. Approximately 650 workers are participating in the strike, which began at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday, and will last until the first shift on Saturday morning.
Today’s work stoppage comes as hotel management companies continue to press for a contract that would slash health & retirement benefits and would increase workloads. "They just want to use the economy as an excuse to cut back, even though we know they’re making big money," said Francesca Ramos, a 19 year seamstress at the St. Francis.
During the first nine months of this year, the Westin St. Francis generated $11 million in earnings for its owner, Strategic Hotels & Resorts [NYSE: BEE]. Strategic bought the hotel in 2006 for $439 million. The St. Francis is managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts [NYSE:HOT], the same company that manages the Palace, W, and St. Regis hotels. Starwood earned $180 million in profits during the first nine months of this year, and its stock price has risen 66% since January 1.
The union has indicated a willingness to settle for a contract that would result in as little as a 1.5% increase in payroll costs – or less than $500,000 for the Westin St. Francis. "There has never been a question of whether they can afford what’s on the table," said Mike Casey, President of Local 2. "The question is whether these companies will make a business decision that’s in the best interests of workers, the City, and the hotels themselves."
Local 2 continues to communicate with customers of the Grand Hyatt and Palace hotels urging them to move their business elsewhere. Those hotels were subject to similar 3-day strikes in recent weeks. Workers at 28 other upscale San Francisco hotels have authorized work stoppages if necessary, in support of their campaign to win a new contract.
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. For more information, visit www.unitehere2.org.