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With Comic-Con days away, workers say ‘yes’ to possible strike at convention hotel

Hundreds of workers at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront voted overwhelmingly Friday to give their union leadership the power to call a strike, setting the stage for a possible walkout when Comic-Con returns next week.

Now that it has the workers’ blessing, Unite Here Local 30 leaders will be able to quickly call a strike if they believe the hotel is unwilling to make an acceptable offer for improved pay and benefits.

The vote passed with 99.6 percent in favor, the union said Friday night. The workers have been without a new contract since last November, when their three-year contract expired.

“Even after being defeated by a global pandemic and extended layoffs, these workers are still ready to fight for what they deserve,” said Brigette Browning, who is president of Unite Here and also executive secretary-treasurer of San Diego & Imperial Counties. Labor Council. “They are used to hard work, they know what they deserve and tonight’s vote confirms that they are committed to achieving it … It’s up to Hilton now.”

The hotel declined to comment on the labor dispute, other than to say it “maintains a cooperative and productive relationship with Unite Here Local 30 and we are confident we will reach an agreement that will be beneficial to our valued team members and to our hotel.”

Negotiations for a new two-year contract covering nearly 600 full- and part-time employees, from housekeepers and front desk agents to bartenders and servers, are set to resume Monday and could determine whether a strike actually takes place.

Union leaders say they hope Hilton hotel representatives will offer a wage increase above the 50 cents an hour the company proposed last month.

While workers at the 1,190-room Hilton earn well above minimum wage, most are lower-income service workers struggling to make ends meet and in some cases having to work a second job. Hourly pay for unionized workers at Hilton ranges from $19.30 to $20.65.

Unite Here is seeking an increase of $3 an hour annually for two years. He also rejects Hilton’s proposal to raise the monthly employee parking fee from $45 to $65. The increase would essentially eliminate the wage increase the hotel offers, Browning said.

The union represents about 450 full-time employees at the Hilton Bayfront and an additional 150 on-call.

During one rally earlier this week, three of San Diego’s elected leaders — Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilmen Steven Whitburn and Raul Cabillo — sought to put additional pressure on the hotel’s ownership by declaring their solidarity with the unionized workers. And on Thursday, San Diego Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos added his voice to the chorus of supporters.

Clarifying that he was not talking about the Port of San Diego, Castellanos said in a tweet that he was “appalled by what these workers were offered.” The Hilton, like the convention and other hotels on the bay, are on state tidelands overseen by the harbor.

The last hotel strike in San Diego was in the fall of 2018, when workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp walked off the job for 35 days. The The strike ended after negotiations over a new contractgiving housekeepers a 40 percent pay rise over four years.

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With Comic-Con days away, workers say ‘yes’ to possible strike at convention hotel Source link With Comic-Con days away, workers say ‘yes’ to possible strike at convention hotel

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