City hotels, workers reach deal to end strife

A two-year standoff between San Francisco’s hotel workers and 13 of The City’s hotels came to an end Tuesday, with the two sides reaching an a tentative agreement.

The agreement, which reportedly is a three-year contract, would apply to more than 4,000 hotel employees — including housekeepers, kitchen workers, food servers and bell staff — who are members of Local 2 of the hotel workers union, Unite Here.

“The deal is done.,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “It has overwhelming support.”

Labor and hotel management are expected to meet with the mayor separately this morning to discuss ratification of the agreement. Separate announcements are expected today, and hotel workers are scheduled to vote on the contract next Friday.

Contract negotiations began two years ago and came to a halt after the union called a two-week strike and the hotels responded with a lockout. Newsom convinced both sides to go back to work, but no contract agreement was reached, and the union has encouraged a boycott of the hotels since. More than a month ago, both sides went back to the bargaining table.

Beginning in 2004, the union had demanded a two-year contract, as opposed to the five-year contract in order to bring them in line with other national unions. However, the issue became irrelevant as the stand off continued.

“The concern of the two-year deal becomes secondary and wages and health care became the dominant issues,” Newsom said.

Newsom said that this agreement between the 13 hotels and Unite Here sets the tone for further labor negotiations with other hotels, including the Marriott, that are coming up.

“We need to use this momentum to advance those negotiations, ” said Newsom. ” We need to promote this city. Equally important, we need to build the trust back on both sides. We were once a model for labor relations and I want to get that back.”

beslinger@examiner.com

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