Union Workers Leaflet Non-Union Hotels

Washington -- Union workers are leafleting more than 100 non-union hotels in 60 cities across North America as they intensify their drive to recruit more union members.

The leafleting, primarily at hotels operated by Hilton Hotels and Starwood Hotels, offers a preview of what meeting attendees may face when they arrive at hotels in the next few months. Labor negotiations between union workers and hotel executives in several cities are scheduled to begin soon, and the talks promise to be contentious.

The leafleting is part of the Hotel Workers Rising Campaign, which kicked off last month with rallies in four U.S. cities led by former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards and actor Danny Glover.

The effort is backed by Change to Win, a recently formed federation of seven unions representing six million workers. Among the Change to Win unions is Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers' union.

"The members of all of the Change to Win unions have come together to support the hardworking men and women in the hotel industry, and we will not rest until they receive the living wages and basic benefits they deserve." Anna Burger, chairwoman of Change to Win, said Wednesday in announcing the lastest union action.

The median wage for a hotel housekeeper in the United States is $8.17 an hour, according to Change to Win.

The recent campaign is part of the Unite Here game plan to place further pressure on hotel companies when labor contracts expire at hotels in several cities over the next few months, beginning next month in Los Angeles.

In a hard-fought battle, the union won the similar expiration dates during previous contract negotiations as a way to gain more leverage over the national hotel companies in the upcoming negotiations. Armed with contract expirations in close proximity, the union poses the potent threat of launching multiple, simultaneous strikes.