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Claim Against Hotel Filed

September 18, 2004|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

The case of 17 locked-out laundry workers was pressed Friday in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board and on the steps of their former employer, the Wilshire Grand hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Separately, hotel workers in Washington were to attend picket-captain training sessions today in preparation for a strike. The hotel workers union, Unite Here, is pushing for a new, two-year contract for thousands of hotel employees in Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco.

Folding fliers instead of linens, the 17 locked-out laundry workers, whom the Wilshire Grand had immediately replaced, cautioned guests Friday that their bedspreads and bath towels might not be as clean as they think.

The 17 workers were barred from their jobs Thursday morning, becoming the first casualties of a contract dispute between nine Los Angeles County hotels and Unite Here locals 52 and 11, with 2,900 workers affected.

"If you are having problems getting clean, well-pressed linen for your guest room or event, the management of the Wilshire Grand is responsible," the flier said.

Cristina Vazquez, deputy administrator of Local 52, said she filed an unfair labor practice complaint Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board.

Wilshire Grand General Manager John Stoddard said the replacements "looked pretty good to me." Stoddard said the lockout was necessary because he couldn't risk a $1-million investment to upgrade 30-year-old laundry equipment unless he gained a steady workforce through a six-year labor contract.

The Wilshire Grand and the other area hotels have been involved in sporadic talks with Unite Here since March. The talks have stalled.

The other hotels are the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles, Hyatt West Hollywood, Westin Century Plaza, the St. Regis, the Sheraton Universal, Millennium Biltmore, the Regent Beverly Wilshire and Westin Bonaventure.

The hotels want long-term agreements of five or six years. The two locals are demanding short contracts that would expire in 2006 to consolidate their negotiating power with locals in several other cities.

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