FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hilton Hotels Look Back to the Future

All of us at one time or another had things pounded into our heads so often that ultimately a light bulb goes off. Finally, one or more of our experiences, good or bad, influences our behavior.

This is not new. The esteemed 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard had a penchant for quotable parables and said it this way: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

You might say this is exactly what happened to management at the private equity Blackstone Group-owned Hilton Hotels. After years of strikes, picket lines and boycotts haunting the industry, Hilton decided all the strife was bad for business.

The result is a long-term agreement extending to August 2018 between Hilton and hotel union, UNITE-HERE. It covers six cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Toronto.

“I’m very pleased with the settlement,” said Guadalupe Chavez, room attendant, Hilton San Francisco Union Square and executive board member of San Francisco’s Local 2, UNITE-HERE.  “We are happy to know that our health care and wages are secured for the next five years.”

The settlement does indeed provide fully paid medical insurance, no small achievement these days. It also strengthens job security in case of a hotel sale and, worse-case scenario, if bankruptcy looms, the union has the contractual to protect those rights by striking.

Job security and healthcare were the two most important concerns of Local 2 members who enthusiastically approved the contract by a 99 percent margin.

In addition, annual compensation increases of four percent will be distributed between wages and benefits as decided by the union negotiating committee. This is somewhat unusual for the union but warranted, Local 2 president Mike Casey said, “because of the uncertain costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.”

In remarks to a March 25 press conference, Hilton general manager, Michael Dunne, greeted the settlement as a breath of fresh air. “It is good for our hotel, our team members and the City of San Francisco.”

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee also chimed in by congratulating Dunne and Casey for “setting a standard for our City’s hotel industry, keeping San Francisco’s economy vital and supporting working families in the Bay Area.”

It’s safe to say both were very relieved that there will be a break from marches, rallies and boycotts for the next five years, at least at the Hilton.

But the union is not sitting still. The Hilton contract is now the standard.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we will begin talks with the rest of the union employers and hope to quickly reach the same agreement,” Local 2 spokeswoman Julia Wong told me.

Now What?

Room attendant Guadalupe summed up Local 2’s stance at the press conference by saying that “we are now ready to realize our vision to organize other hotel workers because they have a right to these same benefits.”

With Mayor Lee and general manager Dunne looking on, a message was sent to both union and non-union hotels in the area.  It was stressed again and again by Local 2 members.

A Hilton doorman with 22 years experience said “we are ready to stand with others to make our union stronger.” A housekeeper with 14 years said “we can now take the time to organize to make us stronger.”

It is clear the members have been prepared to launch a massive organizing now that they have a won a five-year contract. And there are plenty to choose from with tens of thousands of non-union hotel workers in Northern California lacking affordable family health care, pensions, and living wages.

“By settling contracts early with union employers like Hilton,” Wong emphasized to me, “we hope to have a clear path to embark on organizing, starting with our current fights for non-union workers at Hyatt [with the worst safety and employee relations’ record of them all] and HEI.”

To improve conditions in the hotel industry, we must reach out to both union and non-union workers, the union says.  And they are doing just that.

In early April, hundreds of San Francisco hotel workers will engage in a week of action against Hyatt in early April, with pickets at the Grand Hyatt Union Square, Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf, and Hyatt Regency Santa Clara.

So, while Hilton management can now sigh with relief for the next five years, those taking the Hyatt route or “low road” as Casey describes it, don’t seem to be in for relief any time soon.

Carl Finamore is Machinist Lodge 1781 delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He can be reached at local1781@yahoo.com

More articles by:

Carl Finamore is Machinist Lodge 1781 delegate, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He can be reached at local1781@yahoo.com

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail