Disneyland Hotel employees again rejected the hotel's last contract offer in a overwhelming vote Wednesday, giving union officials final approval to call a strike by 1,200 hotel employees, union officials said.
However, Steven Beyer, spokesman for the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, said, "we want to negotiate a contract. We don't want to agree to a substandard contract. We don't want to strike, at least at this point."
Beyer said he intends to use Wednesday night's vote as bargaining leverage when talks resume today at the request of a federal mediator.
The vote was 396 to 36 to reject the management proposal. Citing claims that some members were prevented from voting, a hotel spokesman said the hotel "would not accept the results."
Union employees have been working without a contract since the previous one expired at midnight Friday. Since then, the union announced a national boycott against the hotel, and its members have sporadically staged protests and picketed.
The union is asking for raises ranging from 30 to 60 cents an hour. The hotel's offer includes no increases for food service employees and raises of up to 30 cents for others.
Top hourly wages are $3.90 for waitresses and busboys, $4.90 for maids and more than $6 for cooks.
"The hotel will not accept the results," said Ric Morris, the hotel's labor relations director, maintaining that some employees sympathetic to the hotel were prevented from voting.
"Some of our employees were calling us and complaining that because they didn't sit through a two-hour talk, they were not permitted to vote," Morris said.
"We're not accepting the results because it wasn't an impartial vote and because it wasn't supervised by an impartial panel."
Beyer said that if the hotel does not accept the results, it does so at its "own peril."
"I suppose that if it was ratified, they wouldn't accept that too, right? Well, they can't have it both ways," Beyer said.
He said balloting was monitored by a committee of union staff members and hotel employees who did not leave the election room and had padlocked the ballot boxes.
Beyer acknowledged that "four or five" employees were prohibited from voting after an usher, instructed to close the doors when balloting began, mistakenly closed them too soon. Beyer denied the hotel's claim that 25 members were turned away.
"It was just a mistake. We got their telephone numbers and offered to have a special meeting for them to hear the talk late and vote," Beyer said. The talk, Beyer said, was a mandatory 90-minute lecture by union representatives to members before the vote.
"We didn't want people just coming by and casting a ballot and voting without knowing what it really means. The talk was only an hour and a half. You have to understand that this is serious and we want an informed vote."
Close to 500 members voted Wednesday during the election at Anaheim Bowl, but some of the ballots were rejected for various reasons. Beyer said about 550 members voted in an election Feb. 22 authorizing the union's negotiating committee and officials to announce a strike.
Demonstrations are planned for Friday, when union members are again expected to picket the hotel.
Beyer said he expects some members of other unions at Disneyland to join the picket lines, even though the amusement park is independent from the hotel. He said hotel employees had walked in the picket lines during the most recent strike at the amusement park.