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PORTSIDELABOR  April 2012, Week 5

PORTSIDELABOR April 2012, Week 5

Subject:

Hotel Workers Get a New Contract

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 01:38:32 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

Union Workers at Hotels Get a New Labor Contract

By Danielle Douglas,
April 29, 2012
The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/union-workers-at-hotels-get-a-new-labor-contract/2012/04/27/gIQAAb8FqT_story.html

A group of Washington hotels and the union that
represents their employees have reached a tentative
agreement on a new labor contract 18 months after the
previous one expired.

Unite Here Local 25 President John Boardman said the
two sides came to a deal late Friday, 24 hours after
walking away from the table over terms of the
agreement. In the end, workers won a five-and-half-year
contract that includes penalties for late pay and,
among other things, a 50 percent increase to $2.25 an
hour in a pension contribution.

“It’s an extraordinary contract,” Boardman said. “It’s
long term, protects health care, has great wages ...
and the members are ecstatic by the preliminary
review.”

Union members are scheduled to vote on the agreement at
Asbury United Methodist Church, at 926 11th St. NW, on
Wednesday.

“There was give and take on both sides, and we are
pleased to have an agreement in place,” said Solomon
Keene, president of the Hotel Association of
Washington, D.C., which negotiated on behalf of
District hotel operators.

Tensions ran high leading up to the agreement.

Members have been working without a contract for nearly
two years as both sides reached an impasse on wage
increases and pension contributions. Talks resumed at
the end of March, but broke down again on April 16.

By Thursday of that week, a cadre of housekeepers,
bellhops and doormen were protesting outside the
Marriott Wardman in Woodley Park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The ear-splitting chants could be heard from blocks
away. Union workers packed up their signs Friday night,
but moved on to the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill the
following Tuesday, and then the Mayflower Renaissance
Hotel three days later.

The idea was to hit the seven hotels — including the
Washington Hilton, Capital Hilton, Embassy Row Hotel
and Liaison — bargaining on behalf of the 22 hotels
(two others are in separate talks) participating in
negotiations. The group of 15 hotels that are not at
the table have agreed to abide by the outcome.

Half of the 5,000 unionized workers are employed at the
seven target properties. “If we get the major chains
and half the workforce to settle, then that will be a
deal we can push to the remaining hotels,” Boardman
said at the time.

Keene said he was befuddled by the picketing because he
believed negotiations were progressing. The operators,
he said, proposed raising wages an average 25 percent
over the course of a five-year contract, that included
a $700 signing bonus upon ratification. A 45 percent
increase in pension contributions was also on the
table, along with continued full coverage of health
care premiums.

“The hotels’ proposal was the longest and most generous
in the history of our negotiations with the union,” he
said.

Picketing has been an effective tool for Local 25. The
union’s persistent protesting outside the Madison Hotel
last year caught the attention of city officials, who
cajoled the management company, Destination Hotels &
Resorts, to settle the dispute. In that case, the new
operators, according to the union, refused to honor the
existing contract, but came to an agreement after two
months of daily protests.

The episode at the Madison held up negotiations on the
citywide contract. But Boardman said the delay “wasn’t
necessarily a bad thing because it allowed the city,
which wasn’t necessarily in bad shape, to get much
stronger.”

Enough business and leisure travelers checked into city
hotels to send revenue up 4.5 percent in 2011 over the
prior year. That positive momentum petered out in the
first quarter, but there tends to be a lull in demand
in the beginning of the year.

According to Smith Travel Research, room revenue
slipped 1.5 percent to $85.10 in that span of time,
while rates were down 2 percent. Washington, more
importantly, only has 13 citywide conventions on the
books this year, compared to 22 in 2011, according to
Destination D.C., the city’s tourism agency.

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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