Militant Journalism

San Diego: 600 hotel workers go on strike and win tentative agreement within hours

After months of working with an expired contract, hotel workers at Hilton San Diego Bayfront went on strike. UNITE HERE Local 30 announced the work stoppage on the eve of Comic-Con 2022, as the hotel rooms sold out. One day of militant picketing forced Hilton to reach a tentative agreement with the union.

Hitting the picket lines on July 20, the hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 30 were joined by other unions and community organizations, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 122 and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. The workers have also received support from local politicians.

From the picket line outside the main lobby. Liberation photo

UNITE HERE Local 30’s contract with Hilton expired in November 2021. Since then, Hilton essentially refused to negotiate with the union. While bargaining in recent months, the company said every single demand by the workers was a non-starter without offering any sort of counter-proposal.

As Rick Bates, UNITE HERE Local 30’s director of policy pointed out to Liberation News, “That’s literally not bargaining. That’s a waste of time is what that is… A month later they came back and they offered us 50 cents per hour [yearly raise] over three years.”

On July 15, over 99% of the workers who cast a ballot voted to authorize strike. Then, on July 18, Hilton cancelled the bargaining meeting. The following day, Hilton’s negotiating team showed up late and offered a $2.50 raise over 18 months.

Workers by the main lobby picket looking at the other picket line down below. Liberation photo

“But,” Bates emphasized, “They said they weren’t going to give daily room cleaning back to the housekeepers.” Daily room cleaning is important not just for hygienic purposes during a pandemic, it also creates more opportunities for employment. The change in policy cut the average cleaning attendant’s hours by 30 percent.

On the picket line, workers chanted “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” and “No contract, no peace!” As it stands, it looks like the workers might have their contract.

The workers’ demands included the reinstatement of daily room cleaning, a $4 hourly raise over two years and blocking workers’ monthly parking costs from jumping from $45 to $65. They will vote on a contract based on the tentative agreement reached on Wednesday night.

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