Hyatt, union spar again over contracts

January 18, 2011 1:12:13 PM PST
Management and the union representing workers at the Grand Hyatt hotel near San Francisco's Union Square sparred again today, holding separate news conferences about contract negotiations that have dragged on for 16 months.

The negotiations began in August 2009 but have stalled, resulting in boycotts, strikes and other actions by Unite Here Local 2, which represents hospitality workers for the Chicago-based hotel chain.

About 200 workers and their supporters were expected to gather today for another protest against Hyatt, which union spokeswoman Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer said is refusing to agree to a fair contract with more than 800 of its workers in San Francisco.

The next negotiating session is scheduled for Feb. 1, Mehta-Neugebauer said.

David Nadelman, general manager of the Grand Hyatt, said in a news conference held inside the hotel this morning that union leadership should try to help bring business into San Francisco rather than boycott the hotels.

"Boycotts are not good for anybody," Nadelman said. "If the boycott works, my associates don't."

He encouraged union leaders to come back to the bargaining table. "The only way to come up with fair and equitable contracts is to sit down at the table," he said.

Mehta-Neugebauer, who held a separate news conference outside the entrance of the hotel, said Hyatt management "has put a proposal on the table that no hotel workers can afford."

She said the union is ready to negotiate.

"We want this contract settled...but Hyatt has shown no indication of moving," she said.

The news conferences coincide with the start of a National Labor Relations Board trial on the union's reallocation of funds from its child/elder care fund to a legal fund that helps employees' families navigate immigration laws and deal with other legal issues.

Hyatt has asked the labor board to stop Local 2 from reallocating the funds since that action has to be done at the bargaining table, Nadelman said.

The company "is not opposing the transfer, but never got a chance to say yes or no," Nadelman said. "What Hyatt would like is the union to play by the rules."

Mehta-Neugebauer said she hopes the labor board "realizes it's a futile effort by Hyatt," saying the transfer of union funds "doesn't cost them a dime."

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