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Disneyland Resort, Bel-Air hotels are facing labor disputes

The union representing workers at three hotels at the Anaheim resort rejects a contract offer over healthcare coverage. It also wants a new pact at Hotel Bel-Air.

August 08, 2009|Hugo Martin

Labor disputes are casting a shadow at two Southland hotel operations at the height of the summer vacation season.

At the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, the union representing workers at three Walt Disney Co.-owned hotels said Friday that it had rejected a contract offer amid a dispute over healthcare coverage.

And at the historic Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, the union representing employees demanded Friday that management negotiate a new contract to replace the agreement that expires the day the hotel fires most of its staff and closes for an 18-month renovation project.

A representative for the hotel workers union, Unite Here, Local 11, accused Hotel Bel-Air management of closing the hotel during renovations to eliminate the union at the hotel and reopen with nonunion workers.

"We don't have any expectations that they will renegotiate, said Paulina Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the union representing nearly all 300 workers at the hotel.

Hotel general manager Tim Lee declined to discuss a new union contract Friday but said the hotel had already offered to meet with union representatives to discuss the closure's effect on workers. In the meantime, he promised to try to find jobs at other hotels for all of his displaced employees.

The hotel's current contract with its workers expires Sept. 30. The massive renovation project begins Oct. 1 and will include upgrades for all 91 rooms and suites, the hotel's Champagne Bar, its restaurants and private dining rooms. When the work is done, the hotel will have 12 new villas and a spa with seven treatment rooms.

Gonzalez said Friday that more than 90% of the members who voted on the Disney contract rejected the deal. She said the Disney offer would put workers into a new healthcare program that would be too costly for the average hotel worker. Gonzalez would not rule out a strike at the Paradise Pier, Disneyland and Grand Californian hotels.

A Disney spokeswoman said the offer included affordable healthcare coverage and accused the union of distorting the contract terms. Thirty other unions represented at the resort have agreed to contracts with similar healthcare plans, the spokeswoman said.

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hugo.martin@latimes.com

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