SF Hotel Stike Looms

Working without a contract, Unite Here Local 2 members move forward with threatened strike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    zemistor / Flickr
    A strike means you'll have to cancel your plans at the Tonga Room or Top of the Mark if you have any sense of solidarity.

    Visitors to San Francisco may soon be in for a surprise if they've booked a room at a Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood or InterContinental hotel.

    That because, after working for nearly two months without a contract during negotiations, thousands of hotel workers from Unite Here Local 2 have voted to authorize a strike, with 92 percent support.

    And it's for a reason that's become all too familiar -- the hotels want workers to pay a bigger share of rising health care costs.

    Under the current contract, the employer covers the full cost of health benefits, with coverage for dependents costing an additional $10 a month each.

    Workers earn on average $33,000, partly because the union has made concessions on wage increases in order to keep the health care plan.

    The worry is that if employees have to pay for health insurance, they may drop their coverage entirely in order to cover their current expenses.

    Complicating the matter this time around, the union is negotiating with each of the chains individually, and not as a single group.

    Workers struck in 2004, and were then locked out, with negotiations dragging on for two years.  A strike was authorized by vote in 2006, but the union and hotels came to terms on a contract.

    If there is a strike, it will be interesting to see if San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom shows up on the picket lines to support the workers like he did in 2004 when a strike turned into a lockout.

    Jackson West won't be crossing any picket lines to try those short-ribs at Luce that the president seemed to like, that's for sure.