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UNITE HERE Hotel Members Vote for Strike Action in 3 Major Cities

Posted to the IUF website 21-Sep-2004

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Members of San Francisco UNITE HERE Local 2 have voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action at 14 of the city's major hotels. The San Francisco vote follows the decisions by over 2,000 union members in Washington, D.C. and 3,000 in Los Angeles to strike if necessary should negotiations fail to deliver satisfactory new collective agreements with the cities' leading hotel employers.

Despite lengthy negotiations - the Los Angeles agreement expired in April - employers have been unwilling to drop their demands for increased workloads and reduced employer contributions to health insurance and pensions.

The employers are also resisting the unions' demand for a two-year contract which would expire in 2006, giving them a common expiration date with hotels in 10 major US cities and thus increasing national bargaining power with the chains that now dominate the sector. HERE has been building strong support for the union demands among nationally- and community-based civil and immigrants' rights groups.

US hotels weathered the post-September 11 tourism downturn by laying off thousands of workers, but have been reluctant to rehire in response to rising occupancy. Reduced payrolls have allowed the large hotels to remain profitable by increasing workload pressure on existing staff. Employers are now seeking to boost profits further by offloading the cost of medical insurance in a country with no national health care system.