Hotel Operators End Lockout, Contract Negotiations Continue
About 4,000 San Francisco hotel employees have agreed to end an eight-week labor lockout and return to work Tuesday in a contract dispute involving health benefits, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 11/22).
Hotel employees on Sept. 29 began striking because they said contract negotiations with employers had stalled. Workers at four hotels in San Francisco on Oct. 13 ended their two-week strike, but the hotels -- and 10 others where employees did not strike -- said they would maintain an employee lockout until they reached a contract settlement.
Four hotel management trustees two weeks ago voted to block the use of $4.4 million from a $22 million joint hotel-union emergency trust fund to finance workers' health benefits from Dec. 1 -- when the workers' current contract expires -- to January.
Kaiser Permanente last week agreed to continue coverage for two months to about 3,500 hotel workers involved in the dispute. Chinese Community Health Plan officials last week also agreed to extend health coverage for two months to about 190 employees involved in the dispute. Union officials also requested that PacifiCare, which insures about 610 hotel employees, extend members' health benefits (California Healthline, 11/19).
Mayor Gavin Newsom credited union negotiators' ability to extend health care coverage while the employees were locked as being a "major facto[r] in the hotel operators' change of heart," according to the AP/Times (AP/New York Times, 11/22).
According to the Chronicle, the employers' decision also was influenced by state officials' decision to grant unemployment compensation to locked-out employees (Matier/Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/22).
Newsom said the employers "did the right thing," adding that contract negotiations are expected to continue (AP/New York Times, 11/22).