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Hyatt Hotels and Unite Here Union Reach Agreement that Clears Way for Talks on
Proposed Hotel at the Oregon Convention Center

By Elliot Njus, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 01, 2012--The feuding Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Unite Here, a union representing hotel and restaurant workers, have reached an agreement that would allow talks on a proposed hotel at the Oregon Convention Center to move forward.

Metro and the Portland Development Commission selected a proposal to build one or two publicly-subsidized Hyatt-branded hotels near the convention center to serve as a "headquarters hotel" when big events come to town. But the conditional approval required the hotelier to enter into a labor peace agreement with the union regarding the employees of the hotel.

Metro spokeswoman Stephanie Soden said both sides told the regional government an agreement had been reached and negotiations could begin.

The agreement doesn't end Unite Here's longstanding disagreement over working conditions at Hyatt, which resulted in a call this summer for a global boycott of the hotel chain. Hyatt says the union is trying to boost membership by coercively organizing more hotels.

Hyatt, Minneapolis-based Mortenson Development Inc. and Portland's Schlesinger family had proposed one or two Hyatt branded hotels on one of two sites near the convention center. The project would cost $157 million to $201 million, and Hyatt has said it will buy the hotel upon completion.

The proposals call for between $10.4 million and $36.1 million in public loans or grants, plus a rebate on lodging taxes collected over 30 years. That could add up to as much as $111 million, the developer projected.

Soden said the developers and Metro have a little more than a month to negotiate the broad strokes of an agreement to stay on schedule. If a deal is reached and approved by Metro, the PDC and the Multnomah County Commission, construction could start in 2013 for a 2015 opening.

--Elliot Njus Follow @ORFrontPorch


(c)2012 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

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