11:40 AM: Hotel workers began a two-day protest this morning at the W Hotel in San Francisco’s South of Market District.
The rally began at about 6 a.m. outside the hotel, located at Third and Howard streets.
The workers, members of Unite Here Local 2, are protesting proposed cuts to health care and retirement benefits, union spokesman Ian Lewis said.
The protest will wrap up for the day at 10 p.m., then will continue on Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Lewis said. He said more than 100 workers will take part today and Thursday despite the rain.
Workers at the W Hotel will stay on the job during the protest, but are urging a boycott of the hotel until their demands are met.
Lewis said the proposal by management would force workers to take deep cuts to their health care and retirement benefits, and would mean an increased workload.
“What’s happening is these companies are taking advantage of the downturn in the economy to take back things that they haven’t been able to before,” he said.
Sam Singer, spokesman for the Hotel Council of San Francisco, said, “All the hotels are asking for is to have some shared costs” when it comes to the workers’ benefits packages.
“That’ll make a big difference in the long haul for the financial stability of the hotels and long-term job stability for employees,” Singer said.
In November, hotel workers carried out separate three-day strikes at the Grand Hyatt, the Palace Hotel and the Westin St. Francis.
Union workers at 28 other San Francisco hotels have authorized work stoppages if necessary while labor negotiations continue.
Singer said the strikes and protests are counterproductive to the negotiations.
“I think everybody would like to see a conclusion to the labor negotiations,” he said. “The best way is for leadership to be sitting at the table negotiating, not standing out in the rain slinging slogans.”
7:33 AM: Hotel workers started a two-day protest at the W Hotel in San Francisco this morning.
Members of the Unite Here Local 2 began a rally outside the hotel at Third and Howard streets at about 6 a.m. They plan to continue the two-day informational picket until 10 p.m. Thursday, union officials said.
The workers are protesting proposed cuts to health and retirement benefits.
“There has never been a question of whether they can afford what’s on the table,” Mike Casey, president of Local 2, said in a statement. “The question is whether these companies will make a business decision that’s in the best interests of the workers, the city and the hotels themselves.”
A spokesman for the Hotel Council of San Francisco released a statement Tuesday in anticipation of the protest, saying that instead of “laying siege” to a hotel that contributes to the city’s tourism industry, union members should focus on the bargaining process.
“Unions and businesses need to work together to preserve important industries with large numbers of employees,” spokesman Sam Singer said.
“The demise of the American automobile industry shows the folly of unreasonable and unsustainable union demands,” he said.
Last month, hotel workers carried out separate three-day strikes at the Grand Hyatt, the Palace Hotel and the Westin St. Francis.