Regino Romero is a cook at the Columbia Sussex-owned Hilton Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, and his life as a single father was recently featured in a Washington Post story entitled “Life’s Basics More of a Stretch.”
“Although he has worked full time for nearly 14 years as a cook at the Hilton Crystal City hotel, he feeds his own family with help from a local food pantry,” says the Washington Post. [click here for a link to the article and photos]
Mr. Romero is a union leader at the forefront of a struggle by hotel workers to make hotel jobs middle class. The Hilton Crystal City is a unionized hotel, but after it was acquired by Columbia Sussex Hotels, the company proposed concessions in negotiations, like reducing benefits and increasing their costs, eliminating workers’ pension and seniority, and increasing workloads. The same company has also proposed concessions at the Baltimore Sheraton hotel and the Anchorage Hilton.
In recent years, Columbia Sussex has bought dozens of hotels in a buying spree that has created a large and indebted hotel company, owning more than 70 hotels. Meanwhile, its sister company Tropicana Entertainment is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, having bought casinos heavily financed by debt. Both companies sought concessions from their workers to help pay for their buying sprees, and after a year-long fight, workers at the Las Vegas Tropicana successfully renewed their Las Vegas Dream contract on the same terms as other Las Vegas union workers.
An overwhelming majority of workers at Mr. Romero’s hotel and the Baltimore Sheraton have called for boycotts of their own hotels to prevent concessions and fight for jobs that allow them to support their families.