San Francisco Hotel Workers March and Rally

by on August 31, 2006

Who: Hotel workers and community allies
What: March and Rally
When: Thursday, August 31 at 4:15pm
Where: Market and 4th Street (next to the Four Seasons Hotel)
Why: UNITE HERE! Local 2 and the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group (MEG), which represents management of 13 Class A hotels that employ more than 4,000 workers, have been in union contract negotiations for more than two years since the last contract expired. Hotel workers are marching to send a strong message to management that it is time to agree to a fair contract now.

Background: Last week, San Francisco hotel workers voted 93% in favor to authorize a strike. Hotel workers in Toronto, Chicago, Monterey and Hawaii also voted overwhelmingly to authorize strikes. Negotiations with the MEG impact an additional 5,000 hotel workers at other San Francisco hotels and motels where contracts have also expired. The Union and the MEG are still far apart on many important issues. Hotel workers are fighting for a fair union contract that includes:
. comprehensive health care for workers and their families;
. guarantees that protect the rights of workers at newly developed or acquired San Francisco and San Mateo hotels to choose to join the union if they wish to without being threatened, intimidated or fired;
. provisions that address increased work loads and understaffing that has resulted in an unprecedented number of injuries and raised health and safety concerns in the workplace;
. living wages;
. pensions that ensure retirement with dignity; and
. job security protections when a hotel is sold.

In September 2004, hotel workers went on strike for two weeks at four hotels. The strike was a measured response to the lack of progress in contract negotiations with the MEG. The MEG immediately locked out employees at all 14 MEG hotels. (At the time, the MEG included 14 hotels. Recently, the Argent Hotel dropped out of the MEG when new owners purchased the hotel.) After 7 ½ weeks of 24-hour a day picket lines, in the face of the workers’ continued determination and community outrage, management backed down and ended the lockout. The workers resisted management’s attempt to hold their jobs hostage in exchange for agreeing to a concessionary contract, and they returned to their jobs.

A boycott of 13 hotels is currently in effect at: the Argent (which has opted out of the MEG), Crowne Plaza San Francisco Union Square, Fairmont San Francisco, Four Seasons San Francisco, Grand Hyatt San Francisco, Hilton San Francisco, Holiday Inn Civic Center Hotel, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fisherman’s Wharf, Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf, the Palace Hotel, Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco and Omni San Francisco Hotel. The boycott of the Westin St. Francis, which is a member of the MEG, has been suspended. The hotels have lost more than $100 million as a result of the strike, lock out and boycott.

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