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Hilton Employees in Puerto Rico Detail Reasons for a Possible Strike

December 15, 2009 - Hotel workers in Puerto Rico are prepared to strike at three hotels: the Conrad Condado Plaza Hilton Hotel, the Caribe Hilton Hotel, and the El San Juan Hilton Hotel & Casino. Though negotiations between the workers and the Hilton Corporation are expected to continue, a strike is considered imminent. Major disruptions in most services would occur as the strike would involve more than 1,100 employees, including those in housekeeping, restaurants, kitchen, bars, room service, banquets, front desk, bell and door staff, swimming pool, telephone, maintenance, croupiers and slot cashiers. 

Reasons for a strike 

Hilton employees in Puerto Rico are fed up. At one time, their wages and benefits were on a par with most other Hilton employees in North America. But, in recent years, the company has repeatedly taken a hard line in contract negotiations in Puerto Rico, forcing employees to swallow major reductions in wages and benefits, increased workloads, and unfair and demeaning policies. 

Now, many employees are only paid the minimum wage, and others only slightly more. Many are either ineligible or unable (due to high co-pays) to receive healthcare coverage, and most of the employees who do get coverage get bad coverage. There are huge differences in the pay rates and benefits among employees doing the same work. Employees have been denied their rights under federal labor law, are routinely disciplined unjustly, and subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. Health and safety standards in the hotels are abysmal because the company is simply too cheap and indifferent to remedy hazardous conditions. 

This year, the company went too far. Not satisfied with systematically strangling their wages, benefits, and working conditions, Hilton attempted (according to the complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board) to illegally impose a union of its choosing on the workers in Puerto Rico against their will, unlawfully coerced and intimidated employees and failed to negotiate in good faith. 

People can only take so much abuse. These Hilton employees in Puerto Rico have finally reached their limit. That is why they have courageously joined together to make a stand, for each other, and for their families. Most of them have attended the contract negotiations in person, and they have tried hard to reason with Hilton’s negotiators – to no avail. They don’t want to strike, but they feel they have no other choice given the company’s arrogance, unreasonableness and violation of their rights. 

Why We're Fighting

Hilton disciplines worker for cooperating with government agent’s request
A worker of 29 years at the El San Juan Hotel received a write-up for complying with a Puerto Rican Department of Labor Agent’s request during the course of a government investigation. 

Hilton guilty of attempt to illegally impose a union of its choosing on its employees
The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint accusing Hilton Hotels Corporation and “Workers United/SEIU” of unlawfully assisting each other for the purposes of “restraining and coercing employees” in their exercise of rights guaranteed under the NLRA, at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino, the Condado Plaza and the Caribe Hilton. 

Hilton unfairly pays employees different wages and benefits for doing the same work
Workers at Puerto Rico Hilton hotels are paid varying wages and benefits for the same work, some as low as minimum wage.

Houseman forced to handle GM’s dirty underwear
A manager at the El San Juan Hotel ordered a houseman to dig through the general manager’s personal laundry hamper for soiled underwear, socks, and other clothes to be sent for wash. 

15 workers punished unjustly at the Condado Plaza
When a stack of napkins was found stained with wine in the Condado Plaza banquet department, the manager wrote up every banquet employee from that shift to pressure the guilty party to confess. An investigation found that the wine could have been accidentally spilled by any number of people. Management claimed the right to discipline anybody for anything, whether true or not.

Hilton health care plan in Puerto Rico unaffordable and deficient
Almost 25 percent of employees at Hilton’s three Puerto Rico properties go without health care for themselves and their families simply because their wages are not enough to afford the monthly premiums. 


Also See: Hilton Hotels Corporation Announces Addition of Three Puerto Rico Resorts / February 2009

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