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Union, D.C. Hotels Prepare for Strike

By Neil Irwin and Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 17, 2004; Page A01

Major Washington hotels and the union that represents their employees are making detailed preparations for a strike, which both sides warned could come at any time.

Union members yesterday made picket signs and worked out strike procedures, while hotel managers discussed how managers and replacement workers could staff their establishments. At least one large group, the Civil Service Employees Association of New York, has already canceled plans to come to Washington.

_____Live Discussion_____
Transcript: John A. Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25 Washington, answered your questions.
Old Labor Tactics Resurface in New Union (The Washington Post, Sep 17, 2004)
Hotel Employees Authorize Strike In California Cities (The Washington Post, Sep 17, 2004)
Hotels, Union End Talks, Prepare for Strike (The Washington Post, Sep 16, 2004)
Hotel Talks Show Mixed Progress (The Washington Post, Sep 15, 2004)
Workers at D.C. Hotels Vote to Authorize Strike (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2004)
List of D.C. Hotels Potentially Affected by Strike
From Associated Press at 4:31 PM

Here is a list of the 14 Washington, D.C., hotels that could be hit by a strike.

* Best Western Skyline, 10 I St., SW
* Capital Hilton, 16th and K Sts., NW
* Washington Hilton & Towers, 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW
* Hilton Washington Embassy Row, 2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW
* Holiday Inn Downtown, 1155 14th St., NW
* Holiday Inn on the Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave., NW
* Hotel Washington, 515 15th St., NW
* Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., NW
* Loews L'Enfant Plaza, 480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
* Marriott Wardman Park, 2600 Woodley Rd., NW
* Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW
* Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St., NW
* The Jefferson Hotel, 1200 16th St., NW
* Westin Embassy Row, 2100 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Source: Unite Here Local 25

The two sides have not met since negotiations over working conditions, pay and the length of a new contract broke off Wednesday afternoon. The Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., which represents the hotels involved in the dispute, wrote in a letter sent to Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25 that it does not want to resume bargaining this week.

Union officials said yesterday that a strike was imminent, but they would not say when it might begin or how many hotels might be affected. They are coordinating their actions with hotel unions in Los Angeles and San Francisco that are also threatening to strike.

"We're ramping up and getting all our stuff together," said John A. Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of Local 25. "I think we're ready to go. They picked the wrong fight. People are committed and are going to do what they have to do."

"The hotels acknowledge that a work stoppage could happen at any time, but are still hopeful it could not," said Lynn Lawson, spokeswoman for the hotel association.

Fourteen of the 125 hotels in Washington are participating in the negotiations and thus subject to a strike. Those hotels include some of the biggest in town and contain 28 percent of the city's hotel rooms. The union could choose to strike only a few, rather than all 14.

Washington's fall tourism season is beginning. With the opening of the Museum of the American Indian next week, the International Monetary Fund annual meeting in October, and the return of convention business with cooler weather, hotels were hoping to be full.

The hotel business in the city has boomed this year, with 76 percent of rooms occupied over the first seven months, compared with 71.5 percent in the comparable period last year. Average room rates were up 6.8 percent in that same span.

"I'm very nervous," said William A. Hanbury, chief executive of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp. "It's important that we don't have a long, protracted strike. It will damage the economy and it will damage our image as a customer-friendly, service-oriented destination."

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