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Hotel labor strife: One down, 200 to go?

Labor and management of the not-yet-opened InterContinental Boston hotel have reached an agreement, the Boston Globe reports, after months of negotiation. Although the 21-story luxury condo/hotel project isn't slated to open until this fall, Local 26 of the Boston Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union had declared a "boycott" to force the property's operators to hire union workers. Under the agreement, between 150 and 200 of the hotels' 325 employees will be union members, the paper reports.

This year is shaping up to be a year of strikes in one or more of the six cities in which union contracts expire in some 202 hotels.

"Not good at all" is how Peter J. Hurtgen, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and now a partner at the Washington-based law firm Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius, which is representing the Washington-based American Hotel & Lodging Association, summed up the chances of negotiations going smoothly across the board. "If I were handicapping this, I would put my money on confrontation," he said.

"Plan for the worst and hope for the best." That's the advice from Laurie Sharp, president of Sharp Events, a San Francisco-based event and meetings company. She urges fellow planners to get as much information as possible about the situation (dates, hotels involved, issues, whether the hotel is unionized) from a variety of sources, including the employer group, union, CVBs, industry associations and conferences. "It is up to planners to do their research and try to balance a perspective from the propaganda coming from both sides."

For the complete story, see the May issue of Special Events Magazine.

Photo © Jurica

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