Elsewhere: S.F. hotel workers authorize strike Chron

San Francisco hotel workers voted today to authorize a strike after weeks of contract negotiations with the city’s biggest hotel chains failed to produce agreements, a union spokeswoman said.

More than 3,000 workers with Unite Here! Local 2 participated in the vote, and 92 percent of them voted to authorize the strike, which could deal a blow to San Francisco’s tourism industry, according to Riddhi Mehta, spokeswoman for the union.

The union is negotiating separately with each of the 31 hotels where its members work, including those owned by Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Intercontinental.

Unite Here! Local 2 represents about 12,000 employees in the hospitality industry in San Francisco and on the Peninsula, including room cleaners, cooks, food servers, bellmen, bartenders and dishwashers.

Workers have been without a contract since Aug. 14.Mehta said a sticking point in the negotiations is a proposal by the hotels that workers pay more for their health care coverage.

She said the average worker earns about $30,000 to $35,000 annually and can’t afford health care cost increases.

Today’s vote does not declare a strike, but simply authorizes one.

Union members approved similar authorizations in 2004 and 2006.

Mehta said the union “is going to be in negotiations (with the hotels) soon, and we’ll see from there what happens next.”

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