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Nine Los Angeles Hotels Present Radically Restructured Economic Proposal to UNITE HERE Local 11
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Offers a $1,000 Signing Bonus, Substantial Pay Hike and Free Health Care Aimed
to Bring Stalled Contract Talks to a Quick Conclusion

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LOS ANGELES - May 16, 2005 -- The Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council on Monday proposed a radically restructured economic package to union members aimed at bringing stalled contract talks to a quick conclusion.

The new proposal offers a $1,000 signing bonus and a more than 20% wage hike for non-tipped employees over the four-year term of the contract. The offer also includes free-health care -- without co-pays, deductibles or employee contributions of any kind -- and an increase to pension and health and welfare funds.

"This is a substantial offer, giving employees an unprecedented pay and benefits package," said Brian Fitzgerald, president of the Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council. "The time to end these contract negotiations is now, for the good of the hotels, our employees and the Los Angeles economy."

The Hotel Council offer also includes the reimbursement of $10 weekly health care co-payments retroactive to July 1, 2004, to be paid within fifteen days of the date that the Union notifies the Council in writing that the contract is accepted. That reimbursement could mean up to an additional $300 to each employee.
 

The Los Angeles Hotel Employer’s Council is a group of nine (9) hotels in the Greater Los Angeles Area who have come together to bargain with various unions.  The member hotels belonging to the Los Angeles Hotel Employer’s Council are as follows:
Hyatt Regency Los Angeles
Hyatt West Hollywood
The Westin Century Plaza
St. Regis Hotel
Sheraton Universal Hotel
Wilshire Grand Hotel & Centre
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Regent Beverly Wilshire
Westin Bonaventure Hotel

The Hotel Council made it clear in their written offer to UNITE HERE Local 11 leadership that the proposal is a one-time only offer. It is not a new position from which to begin another round of slow moving negotiations.

"We hope the Union and its leadership will take this very seriously," said Fitzgerald. "Not only is this offer vastly superior to the short-term contracts that the Union has endorsed at other Los Angeles hotels, including the Hotel Bel-Air and Beverly Hilton, it is also much more generous than some contracts ratified recently in cities across the country."

Negotiations for a new labor contract between the Hotel Council and Local 11 have been dragging on for 14 months. Because there is no contract, hotel employees have missed three wage increases, as well as countless lost wages and tips from the ill effects of a union-sponsored boycott.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese has called for a return to serious consideration of a contract and a prompt conclusion to negotiations. The Hotel Council agrees with the Cardinal and hopes that the Union too will embrace his call for ending this needless stalemate.

The new four-year proposal would include large signing bonuses to be paid on ratification of the contract as follows:

  • A $1,000 signing bonus for non-tipped employees averaging 30 or more hours per week in 2004.
  • A $500 signing bonus for tipped employees averaging 30 or more hours per week in 2004 and non-tipped employees averaging more than 16 but less than 30 hours per week in 2004.
  • A $250 signing bonus for part-time tipped employees averaging more than 16 but less than 30 hours per week in 2004.
The proposal also includes significant wage increases, including:
  • $.75 per hour for non-tipped employees on ratification, plus
  • $.25 per hour for non-tipped employees every six months through the life of the contract, until October 2008, when there would be a $.50 increase, totaling $2.50 per hour in increases over the next four years. Tipped employees will have increases of 10 cents per hour in years two, three, and four (commencing in 2006).
The hotels in the Hotel Council already offer the highest wages and best benefits of hotels in Los Angeles, and exceed those at hotels in many American cities. By comparison, Local 11's new contract with the Beverly Hilton, a non-council hotel, calls for just a 40 cent an hour wage increase for non-tipped employees over two years. That's a wage increase of just 3.6 percent - substantially below the Hotel Council's offer.

"Now is the time to reach an agreement," said Fitzgerald. "Let's end the boycott, which is taking thousands of dollars out of employees' pockets with fewer hours, shifts and lost tips. Now is the time for the Union and the Hotels to finally reach a settlement."
 

One Year Later, Hotel Employees
Suffer From Union Tactics

LOS ANGELES – April 14, 2005 – Union tactics have made thousands of Los Angeles hotel workers work without a contract for a full year, causing them to miss three pay raises, paid time off and other benefits.

UNITE HERE Local 11’s boycott of area hotels is compounding the loss of pay raises by driving business away from Los Angeles hotels, costing employees untold thousands of dollars in lost work hours and tips.

“Our employees are suffering because of Local 11 leadership’s scheme,” said Brian Fitzgerald, president of the Los Angeles Hotel Employer’s Council, a group of eight prominent areas hotels that are trying to sign union contracts. “The national ambitions of union leadership are being paid for out of the pockets of our employees. This has got to stop.”

The Los Angeles Hotel Employer’s Council has been negotiating with Local 11 since March of 2004. The contract ran out a month later on April 15, 2004. The union leadership’s strategy to link its contract talks with those in cities such as New York and Chicago has unnecessarily prolonged negotiations in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it appears that Local 11 wants hotel employees here in Los Angeles to sacrifice solely for issues that are important in cities elsewhere.

Respected community leaders including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of the Archidiocese of Los Angeles, have called for settlement talks to begin again in earnest, and a resolution to be achieved within weeks.  The Hotel Council agrees with Cardinal Mahony, and has pledged to do all it can to bring about a contract.  But Local 11 has so far refused to change its adversarial and confrontational tactics.

The hotels in the Council already offer the highest wages and best benefits of hotels in Los Angeles, and exceed those at hotels in many American cities. In these negotiations the Council has consistently proposed adding substantially to wages and benefits.

The Hotel Council has made a series of offers to the union that have included pay raises in excess of 20% over the term of a five-year contract. Under the original Hotel Council proposal made nearly a year ago, employees such as room attendants, cooks, dishwashing stewards, and other non-tipped employees would have received a retroactive increase for April 15, 2004, another pay hike in October 2004 and another raise this Friday, April 15 – the one-year anniversary of the contract expiration.  The increases for these employees would have totaled 70¢ an hour.

The Hotel Council proposals have also consistently offered free healthcare over a long-term contract of five or six years – with no co-pays, deductibles or employee contributions of any kind, an extremely rare employee benefit in America.

The Hotel Council’s original proposal also included:

  • Paid vacation, paid holidays, paid bereavement leave and a new paid time off program. Employees also enjoy free meals in hotel cafeterias.
  • Increases in the pension fund and continued hotel contributions to educational and other employee benefit funds.
  • Retroactive pay increase.
Unfortunately, Local 11 rejected this offer and instead proposed a two-year agreement which would expire 12 months from now. Because of the union’s response, as well as settlements the union has made for lesser amounts with other Los Angeles area hotels, the Hotel Council was forced to take retroactive pay increases off the table in its latest offer.

Local 11’s bargaining stance is way out of the mainstream of its sister locals around the country. In the year since Local 11’s contract expired, UNITE HERE locals across the country have settled multi-year contracts, often with terms that are not as good as those offered here in Los Angeles. During the past 12 months, UNITE HERE has settled three-year contracts in Washington, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia and Local 11 itself has even settled a five-year contract with the Pasadena Hilton.

The Wilshire Grand Hotel and Centre and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel  in Downtown Los Angeles recently signed new six-year contracts with UNITE HERE Local 52 that guarantee union jobs in their hotel laundry operations for years to come. Last year the Service Employees International Union settled five-year contracts with Los Angles area hotels in just five bargaining sessions and with terms similar to those that the Hotel Council has offered to Local 11.

But Local 11 continues to insist on a short-term contract that would require the parties to start this process all over again in early 2006. The union also continues to push its boycott – a strategy not used by responsible union locals in other cities. The boycott is an irresponsible tactic that reduces work, wages and tips for employees, and saps the life out of the general economy. The ripple effect of tourist dollars in the Los Angeles economy is significant.

The loss of business due to the boycott is costing the City of Los Angeles potentially millions of dollars in lost hotel bed taxes, and that’s the same as taking cops and fire fighters off our streets.

“Now we need Local 11 leadership to return to the bargaining table in a serious manner, in good faith and with the intent of settling this contract now in the best interests of our employees here in Los Angeles,” said Fitzgerald.

“There are steps that could be taken right now,” he added. “Local 11 could end its reckless boycott campaign. The boycott is taking a toll on employees, damaging the regional economy and having a severe impact on local tax revenues. If Local 11 is serious about reaching a contract in a timely manner it should end this practice as an acknowledgment that it is working hard to reach a contract settlement.”

Local 11 is instead passing out information on its strike plans and calling for a contract that would expire in April 2006, just 12 months away, when this entire process would have to begin again. 

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Contact:

Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council
http://www.lahotelcouncil.com
 

Also See: US Hotels and Their Workers - Room for Improvement / September 2002
Unite Here Los Angeles Hotel Workers Call for Boycott of Nine Luxury Hotels as Contentious Labor Talks Continue / November 2004

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