The hotel workers union Thursday rejected the latest contract offer from nine upscale Los Angeles-area hotels, calling it "a slap in the face" and vowing to continue to promote a national boycott of their employers.
"They think we have no brains, but we are the ones who make their hotels run," said Miguel Aguilar, a banquet server at the Sheraton Universal who sits on the 40-member negotiating team of Unite Here Local 11.
In the latest round of negotiations, on Monday, Local 11 offered to accept small wage increases in exchange for what it wants most: a short contract that would expire in 2006, Aguilar said. The union has a national strategy to line up contracts to expire at the same time in 10 major cities, which would open the door to a national strike.
The nine hotels, negotiating as the Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council, said they won't let that happen. Because that position was clear from the start of negotiations, council spokesman Fred Muir said negotiators were "staggered" by the union's opening offer in Monday's talks, with its 2006 expiration date.
Hotel negotiators responded with essentially the same diminished contract for the first two years, with three better years added at the end.
Aguilar said he was not encouraged by negotiations and was now inclined to wait out the next 15 months without a contract. Then, by default, the Los Angeles contract will be open at the same time as those in New York, Boston and elsewhere.
Muir said the hotels would take some action, including possibly locking out their workers, before letting the union run out the clock.