Fourteen major D.C. hotels and the union that represents their employees met yesterday for another round of talks on a new contract, but they made little progress in a session both sides described as contentious.
"There continued to be no progress," said Bruce Raynor, general president of the Unite Here national hotel union, who is leading negotiations on behalf of its Local 25. "Management's tenor was more hostile than it had been before."
"We're very disappointed," said Peter Chatilovicz, a lawyer representing the Hotel Association of Washington's bargaining unit. "We thought today might prove constructive, but it did not."
Since their contract expired Sept. 15, the two sides have faced off at bargaining sessions about once every week or two, but have reported little progress toward an agreement. The union seeks improved working conditions, higher wages and protection of benefits, and a two-year contract that would expire the same year as contracts in New York and other cities.
Chatilovicz said that the hotels came to yesterday's session willing to make concessions. He said the hotels have agreed to allow housekeepers with the most seniority to have their quotas for cleaning rooms reduced by one per day, for example. Raynor said that the hotels' offers were insufficient.
Starting Nov. 1, if there is no new contract, unionized workers will have to bear the cost of the increase in their health insurance premiums. In order to help defray those costs, Local 25 officials said that the union will not charge regular union dues to affected workers. Under the hotels' current contract offer, workers would not have to pay any of the cost of their health premiums, a continuation of the status quo.
Both sides said that they may take further action if the impasse continues, but neither would specify what that might be, or when it might happen.
In San Francisco, 14 hotels have locked out their unionized workers in an impasse over similar issues. The hotels on Tuesday declined Mayor Gavin Newsom's request that they let workers return to work for a 90-day "cooling-off" period. Newsom has said that the lockout is hurting San Francisco's tourism industry and its image among travelers. On Monday, Newsom threatened to call for a boycott of the affected hotels if they do not comply.