Hotel Workers Authorize Strikes

San Francisco -- Hotel workers here and in Chicago, Honolulu, and Monterey, Calif., this week authorized their union leaders to call strikes if hoteliers fail to agree to new labor contracts.

The hotel workers are members of Unite Here, which has tried to gain more leverage over national hotel chains through contracts that expire around the same time, thus setting the stage for multi-city labor actions such as boycotts, pickets, and strikes.

The workers approved strike authorizations here yesterday, in Honolulu and Monterey on Wednesday, and in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday. Last month, hotel workers in Toronto also authorized a strike. The workers in all five cities voted by more than 90 percent to authorize strikes.

The union and hotels are split over wages, workloads, and health benefits, although the union's effort to organize workers at non-union hotels is also an issue in some cities.

Contract agreements between the union locals and employer groups representing a relatively small number of hotels in a city typically set the labor standard throughout that city.

For instance, in San Francisco, Unite Here Local 2 is negotiating with the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, which represents 13 major hotels. But the outcome will affect more than 9,000 people at about sixty hotels and motels here who are working without contracts, the vast majority of whom have been without contracts since 2004.

Union and hotel negotiators resumed talks in June. Talks are scheduled to continue next week, the union said in statement yesterday.