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Unions and S.F. hotels: Can they bridge the gap?

Hotel union Unite Here Local 2 and 14 hotels in the San Francisco Bay area will likely remain at odds as they try to hammer out a settlement to the nine-month labor dispute that has seen event and meeting planners dragged into the conflict.

The latest offer from the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, which includes such landmark properties as the Fairmont, Four Seasons and Westin St. Francis, includes lower co-payments for health care. The union, which has already said that the May 31 offer fails to address the union’s “core issues,” is expected to counter today.

Many hoteliers see the real issue behind the labor actions, which have popped up in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston, as a move by organized labor to align the expiration dates of contracts throughout North America. Such a change would make it far harder for hotel chains to snuff out local job actions by moving personnel into affected cities.

The union has targeted planners with an e-newsletter that offers “tips” for event planners facing labor disputes at their destination hotel. The tips range from threatening the hotel owners with future boycotts of the property to avoiding payment of cancellation damages.

Photo courtesy San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau

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