San Francisco News

Hotel workers rally for unity on Labor Day

Monday, September 05, 2011

Hundreds took to the streets of San Francisco on Labor Day to call for union solidarity.

The demonstration was organized by Hyatt hotel workers who have been working without a contract for more than two years. It was Labor Day after all, and the workers took the opportunity to get their point across. They include doormen, service employees, cooks, room workers, bellmen and phone operators, among others.

Workers at two Hyatt hotels in San Francisco have been without a contract. One of the demands of their union, Local 2, is that workers in the city be allowed to support other Hyatt hotel workers in other parts of the country, even if that means going on strike.

"Workers in San Francisco say we demand the right to stand in solidarity and to picket or boycott or strike when these abuses occur, anywhere that they occur," Julia Wong said.

The union has signed agreements with two other hotels, Hilton and Starwood. Hyatt has agreed to the same wages and benefits packages, but will not allow the union to organize at Hyatt's other non-union hotels. Union members say that is important to them.

"We can get more members for the union and we can get stronger," Boa Vasquez said.

The general managers of the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels wrote about this issue in an op-ed page recently saying, "It's really about trying to impose the union's national agenda at Hyatt's other hotels where workers have chosen not to be represented by a union."

Antonio Arenas works at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, which is a non-union shop. He claims workers there have little protection.

"A lot of my co-workers don't have 30 hours, who only work maybe 25 hours," he told ABC7. "Sometimes I don't work a 30-hour week, but for the most part I do, which I'm really happy."

Monday's protest had its fair share of other hotel workers and community leaders who want an end to this impasse.

"It's really important that it ends. We have other hotels that have already come to agreements with the unions," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. "We want to make sure that we have every employer in the city that works with our unions to support our workers and make money."

Contract negotiations will resume in about two weeks. One union negotiator told said Monday evening that he was not very optimistic. The Hyatt Hotels Corporation, out of Chicago, did not return phone calls from ABC7.

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Tags:
fisherman's wharf, union square, protest, tourism, san francisco news, lyanne melendez
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