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COMMUNITY NEWS: CENTRAL

DOWNTOWN : Convention Center Union Dispute Ends

October 03, 1993|IRIS YOKOI

The local hotel and restaurant employees union and the food concessionaire for the Los Angeles Convention Center have reached a contract agreement, ending a long-simmering dispute over medical benefits for the center's 100 cooks, waiters and other food service workers.

Ogden Food Services agreed to continue health benefits for the workers, while the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 11 agreed to a wage freeze until the end of next year, according to union negotiator Gary Guthman.

Guthman said the union agreed to the temporary wage freeze in light of the poor economic climate and the subsequent drop in the number of conventions booked last year. Ogden also agreed to the union's demand that senior workers be considered first to staff certain events in order to combat complaints of favoritism, Guthman said.

Jeff Ganz, Ogden regional manager, declined to comment on the specifics of the contract, but said, "We are pleased to have settled the contractual issues with the union, and everyone looks forward to a successful opening of the new, expanded Convention Center."

The union tried for a year to reach a contract agreement with Ogden. The impasse was primarily due to Ogden's decision to cut health insurance for the workers.

Guthman said it was the union's publicity efforts that ultimately prompted Ogden to reopen negotiations in early September.

"The actions that we took, especially the . . . civil disobedience, had a significant impact . . . in resolving this favorably," Guthman said.

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