Some 14,000 employes at 45 hotels, including some of the most exclusive in the country, walked off the job, the first such strike to hit New York City.
Chefs, maids, desk clerks and other employes struck as talks broke off midnight Friday in a stalemate over the union's demand for higher pay raises.
Moments before the midnight Friday deadline, the three-piece band playing amid palm trees in a bar of the Waldorf-Astoria packed up its instruments and left. The bar normally stays open until 2 a.m.
Members of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council ended their shifts at midnight and joined picket lines outside the hotels.
"It's a stalemate," union spokesman Henry Sheinkopf said. "Management has not budged very far."
No further talks were scheduled.
The hotels plan to stay open by using management personnel in place of striking workers, Hotel Association President Albert Formicola said.
Sheinkopf said management had not raised its offer of a 4.5 percent pay raise in the first year of a three-year contract, with $14.50 weekly wage increase in each succeeding year of the contract.
The union, which originally asked for 9 percent raises, lowered its demand to 6.5 percent.