62 Arrested in San Francisco Hotel Union Rally

San Francisco -- Sixty-two people were arrested here yesterday during a rally by hotel workers that was intended to pressure hoteliers into accepting a new labor contract on terms favorable to the workers.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Hilton Hotels yesterday announced a tentative agreement on a new contract with its workers' union, significantly decreasing the likelihood of labor unrest in that city.

In San Francisco, the arrests took place at the Palace Hotel, a Starwood property, after protesters blocked the entrance. More than 1,000 members of Unite Here Local 2 and their supporters had marched through the downtown streets to the Palace from the Four Seasons Hotel.

Union members have been working without a contract since 2004. Recently resumed talks have yet to produce results, prompting the protest march.

The San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, which consists of 13 major hotels here that are negotiating collectively with the union, claimed that "meaningful progress" has taken place at the bargaining table. The union said that "progress has been slow but consistent."

Union members here and in Chicago, Honolulu, and Monterey, Calif., last week authorized their leaders to call strikes should negotiations stall.

In Chicago, Hilton's tentative, three-year agreement, also with Unite Here, covers about 2,300 employees at the Hilton Chicago, Hilton O'Hare Airport, The Drake, and the Palmer House Hilton. Workers are scheduled to vote on ratification next Wednesday.

Other Chicago hotels are now expected to reach quick agreements with the union. Contracts covering 7,000 workers at 26 hotels expired at midnight.

Those arrested during the San Francisco rally were cited for trespassing and obstructing a lawful business, and then released, according to police.