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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Hotel Strife Gives Jitters To Groups

Tom Morgan, along with nine Los Angeles hotels and several thousand employees, is patiently waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks of labor negotiations. Employees at nine Los Angeles hotels have been working without a contract since April. Earlier this month, union members in L.A., San Francisco and Washington, D.C. voted to allow union leaders to call a strike at any time. In San Francisco, 1,400 union members were the first to do so on September 29. Morgan, executive director of the Southern California Golf Association is planning to meet with about 175 representatives from the group’s member clubs on October 26 at the Sheraton Universal, while talks between unionized hotel labor and management remain stalled. This is making things nerve wracking for Morgan and other people who are scheduling conferences or meetings at the hotel in coming weeks. The Sheraton Universal is the only Valley hotel that could end up with a strike on its hands by the union. “At this point, we’re carefully watching the proceedings. We are also going ahead with plans for our meeting. We’ve been leading to believe it’s a day-to-day situation,” said Morgan. He said that the group is keeping in touch with hotel management on a regular basis to get updates on negotiations. Morgan said he’s not sure what the organization would do if confronted with striking workers. “It’s so hard to project, we would have to gauge the entire situation, the severity of the situation and see if there would be any risk for the attendees,” Morgan said. Talks on hold Mediated talks between the two sides are sidelined while the federal mediator is out of town. The two groups have been unable to agree on the length of a contract, and have been wrangling over pay raises. The Los Angeles Hotel Employers Council has proposed a five-year contract, however, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Union is looking to sign a two-year deal. The hotels represented by the employers’ council and could eventually be the target of a strike are the St. Regis, Century Plaza, Bonaventure, Hyatt Regency Los Angeles, Hyatt West Hollywood, Millennium Biltmore, Regent Beverly Wilshire, Wilshire Grand and Sheraton Universal. “What the hotel council is offering in pay raises over five years is what the union is asking for in two years,” said Hilda Delgado, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, which supports Unite HERE, the union representing hotel workers. The contract being offered by the Hotel Employers Council would include free health care if a union accepted a five-year extension. Until then, workers are being charged $10 per week for health coverage. HERE Local 11, the union chapter representing Los Angeles hotel workers, has filed an unfair labor practice charge over the fee with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that charging for health care is illegal. Fred Muir, representative of the hotel council, said he thinks the union has multiple motives for asking for a two-year contract. “The reason they want it is because they want to have similar contracts expire in 10 cities, including San Francisco Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago expire at once,” Muir said. Pay raise Muir said the contract provides a pay raise every year that amounts to a 20 percent raise over the five years of the contract. He said that the raise is significantly higher than the rate of inflation. Delgado, however, said that most employees are working two jobs to make ends meet, and that the raises aren’t coming fast enough under the last proposed contract. The Hilton Universal City Hotels and the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, both near the Sheraton Universal, did not return phone calls seeking information about how a possible strike would affect their business. Muir also said that losing convention business will hurt hotel workers as much as it will hurt hotel owners. Less business will mean fewer shifts, and the lack of visitors will have a damaging “ripple effect” on other local businesses like restaurants, which thrive on meeting and convention business. Tom Morgan, who said the Southern California Golf Association has been holding meetings at the Sheraton Universal for almost 30 years, is just hoping his group isn’t one of those casualties.

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