[URBANTH-L]Newsom Threatens to Picket Hotels

Maranatha Ivanova mivanova at socrates.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Oct 26 10:37:08 EDT 2004


Newsom threatens to picket hotels
 Mayor applies pressure to force cooling-off period
 - Steve Rubenstein, George Raine, Chronicle Staff Writers

 Tuesday, October 26, 2004

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threatened Monday to join hotel  
workers on their picket lines today unless hotel owners end a four-week  
lockout and allow employees to return to their jobs for a 90-day  
cooling-off period.

 Newsom gave the owners of 14 hotels until 2 p.m. today to respond to  
his request. If they refuse to go along with the cooling-off period,  
the mayor said he will seek to have the city stop doing business with  
the hotels and call for a public boycott.

 "I will do everything in my power to see to it that the city and  
county of San Francisco does not do business with those hotels, and I  
will extend that in multiple ways because I am very intense about  
this,'' Newsom said. "We have people who are suffering out on the  
streets, and in turn the image of the city is suffering.

 "You will see me take actions to represent my disappointment not just  
in the proceeding days and months but years. Even when the strike ends  
(the hotel owners) will have sent the message that San Francisco is  
dispensable as a city and its employees can be used as pawns, and I  
will not forget that and I will act accordingly."

 Mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone said the mayor could join pickets as  
early as this afternoon.

 The union representing 4,000 locked-out hotel workers -- cooks, room  
cleaners, bartenders, bellmen, servers and others -- said they are  
willing to return to work for a 90-day cooling-off period.  
Representatives of the 14 hotels involved in the labor dispute said  
they would give the mayor an answer by his deadline.

 "We understand the mayor feels strong about this,'' said Barbara  
French, a spokeswoman for the hotels. "We have his request under  

 Newsom proposed the cooling-off period in a letter Sunday to Mike  
Casey, president of Local 2 of the hotel workers union, Unite Here; and  
to Mark Huntley, president of a group of 14 San Francisco hotels that  
is negotiating labor contracts, the Multi-Employer Group.

 The two are locked in a tense labor dispute that led to a two-week  
strike against four of the hotels that began Sept. 29 and to the  
eventual lockout of the employees of all 14 hotels -- more than 4,000  
in all. Contract negotiations have been fruitless.

 Newsom initially called for a cooling-off period earlier this month,  
but that request was rejected by hotel owners who said they would allow  
workers back only if the union agreed to drop its demand for a two-year  
contract. A two-year contract would expire at the same time as  
contracts for hotel workers in other major cities, giving the San  
Francisco union more leverage in future negotiations. The hotel owners  
want a five-year contract.

 Another of the contentious issues in the dispute revolves around  
health care benefits. The hotels want workers to pay more for health  
insurance. For the past 20 years, hotel workers have paid $10 per month  
toward their health insurance. Hotels want workers to pay $32.53 a  
month in the first year, rising each year to $273.42 per month in the  
fifth year.

 Newsom's remarks Monday came at the end of a news conference he gave  
with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to illustrate their bipartisan support  
of Prop. 1A, a state ballot initiative aimed at preventing the state  
legislature from taking local tax revenues.

 "The hotels now have gotten their two weeks in after the two-week  
strike, '' the mayor said. "Fair is fair," he said. "As far as I'm  
concerned, you're even. Now let's all grow up and get back to work."

 In his letter, Newsom said the continued dispute "causes significant  
disruption to the citizens and visitors of our city, and it threatens  
to interfere with San Francisco's economic recovery.''

 The four hotels that the union originally struck were the Argent, the  
InterContinental Mark Hopkins, the Hilton and the Crowne Plaza Union  
Square. The workers were locked out of those four plus the Fairmont,  
Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt, Holiday Inn Civic Center, Holiday Inn  
Express & Suites Fisherman's Wharf, Holiday Inn at Fisherman's Wharf,  
the Palace Hotel, Hyatt Regency, Omni and Westin St. Francis.

 The dispute has already caused the organizers of one major convention  
to consider moving elsewhere. More than 5,000 delegates of the American  
Anthropological Association scheduled to meet Nov. 17-21 at the San  
Francisco Hilton might instead meet in Atlanta. Organizers of the  
convention said Monday they want to learn the response to Newsom's  
request. The Hilton is one of the four hotels where workers struck on  
Sept. 29 and one of the 14 where the lockout continues.

 Casey wrote to Newsom on Monday saying the union would agree to send  
members back to work from Wednesday through Jan. 25 while negotiations  
continue. Casey said the return to work would be unconditional and the  
union would negotiate on all outstanding issues.

 Spokeswoman French said Monday the 14 local hotel managers met to  
discuss the proposal and are discussing it with their own companies.

 "The hotels believe the solution is an agreement'' reached at the  
negotiating table, she said. "They appreciate and respect the mayor's  
continued involvement.''

 Ultimately, Newsom's authority in the matter is limited to his power  
of persuasion and the prestige of his office, but San Francisco's  
losses could be considerable in a prolonged labor dispute. The  
cancellation of major conventions -- and the subsequent loss of tourist  
dollars -- is still possible.

 The American Anthropological Association made reservations for its  
2004 annual meeting at the Hilton eight years ago, said Elizabeth  
Brumfiel, the association president and professor of anthropology at  
Northwestern University. On Friday, she and the group's executive board  
sent an e-mail to members saying that, because of the labor dispute,  
the board had voted to move the meeting from San Francisco to the  
Atlanta Hilton, Dec. 15-19.

 On learning Monday morning of Newsom's overture, the group suspended  
those plans pending the response from both the union and the hotels,  
said Brumfiel. Monday, she e-mailed members telling not to cancel or  
make new reservations until it's decided where to hold the meeting.

 The group sides ideologically with the union, and Brumfiel has written  
that "anthropologists cannot, in all good conscience, meet in  
facilities whose owners are using the lockout of low-wage workers as a  
bargaining tactic.''

 The group had a legal vulnerability, too, as breaking the Hilton  
contract would expose the members to potential damages of $1.2 million  
-- the fee for renting the hotel facilities. The association and Hilton  
worked out a tentative compromise, said Brumfiel -- go to Atlanta, a  
nonunion hotel, this year but return to San Francisco in 2006.

 However, Debbie Larkin, a spokeswoman for the hotel, said, "Our  
understanding is that (the anthropologists' meeting) is still going to  
be here. ''

 By calculations of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, the  
5, 000-plus anthropologists would probably spend $3,093,750 in the  city.

 Chronicle staff writer Wyatt Buchanan contributed to this  
report.E-mail Steve Rubenstein at srubenstein at sfchronicle.com and  
George Raine at graine at sfchronicle.com.

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URL:  http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/26/ 
 ©2004 San Francisco Chronicle

bvergara at sfsu.edu wrote:

>From: Idasusser at aol.com
>Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 08:02:16 EDT
>Subject: New Breaking News -Tues 2pm DEADLINE
>In a message dated 10/26/2004 12:26:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
>aaf19 at columbia.edu writes:
>Thought this was worth sending -- might be worth circulating if you
>get it late tonight or early AM
>Mayor Newsom has just done a powerful thing-- he gave the hotels
>until 2 PM today (Tuesday) to agree to the cooling-off period
>(apparently Local 2 has agreed) or else he will a) join the picket
>lines himself and b) has threatened  to withhold city services from
>the hotels
>It's in the excellent Modesto Bee:
>If this is carried out, it seems to me AAA has its reasons to argue
>breach of contract by Hilton!  In any case, it makes a powerful
>Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 20:17:05 -0700
>From: David Levinger <levinger at earthlink.net>
>Subject: AAA Annual Meeting 2004
>I searched the Internet looking for the specific details about the 
>labor disagreement, i.e., what the actual differences between the 
>existing and proposed or desired contracts are and could not find 
>that.  Does anyone know the exact language of the clauses in the new 
>contract offer that UNITE HERE Local 2 is focusing on and how that 
>differs from the preceding contract?
>In union's I've belonged to, there is usually a simple spread sheet 
>that compares the two contracts that is distributed to membership at 
>the time of the vote.  Perhaps there is one available.
>Thanks to anyone who can help me with this,
>Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 21:45:47 -0700 (PDT)
>From: lyon-callo vincent <slyoncallo at yahoo.com>
>Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]Breaking News--AAA Annual Meeting 2004 (fwd)
>However, from what I've been able to ascertain so far,
>there is little chance that the hotels will go along
>with this "cooling off period" suggested by the mayor.
> They have already rejected the idea once, continue to
>lock out the workers, and have not even shown up as
>requested at board of supervisors meetings.  It seems
>to be wishful thinking-hoping that the controversy
>will be resolved outside of the AAA and we can just go
>back to business as usual.
>Vin Lyon-Callo
>URBANTH-L mailing list
>URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu

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