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Out-of-work hotel workers confront the new owner of the Holiday Inn Express City Centre,
Rochester, Minnesota;Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho. Greedy bosses got to go
By Bob Freund, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Jan. 5, 2007 - Out-of-work hotel workers and their supporters confronted the new owner of the Holiday Inn Express City Centre at his office Thursday afternoon, but failed to win their jobs back.

A small group of pickets were back in front of the downtown Rochester hotel early today. Among them, 14-year hotel housekeeper Janice Danielson held a sign reading "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho. Greedy bosses got to go!"

Danielson and about 30 supporters delivered a petition personally to Mike Bhakta, the on-site principal for CMPJ Enterprises L.L.C. of Texas. The company, reportedly family-owned, bought the 170-room hotel on Dec. 21.

But CMPJ did not acquire the labor contract with Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees Local 21, the hospitality workers' union in Rochester, nor did it rehire 19 unionized employees.

The workers' petition demanded "our jobs back, back pay and an apology to the community and an apology to us ... for laying us off like that," Danielson, who delivered the demands, said by phone from the front of the hotel this morning.

A phone message seeking comment from Bhakta was not returned by press time. While he spoke to the laid-off workers for a time, he didn't agree to their demands, pickets said.

The picket line is informational; it does not aim to interrupt any hotel deliveries or operations.

"We're going to be out here every day," said Local 21 organizer Bob Rouillard.

Local 21 also enlisted some support Thursday from the Southeast (Minnesota) Labor Council, which represents unions from this part of the state. Council president Russell Hess was with the pickets this morning.

"You can't just pick on 19 of the most vulnerable workers in southeast Minnesota and not pick on everyone," he said.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

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