Paramount Hotel signs union contract with HERE Local 9

There's a new union hotel in Portland.

The ink is dry on a collective bargaining agreement between Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 9 and the new Paramount Hotel at 808 SW Taylor Ave. The union represents 40 housekeepers, bellhops, front desk and laundry workers with more on the way.

The European boutique-style hotel, which opened last Jan. 4, is part of WestCoast Hotels Inc. The hotel features 154 guest rooms and two 700-square-foot meeting rooms with catering services. The Dragonfish Asian Cafe and a lounge will open early next year, with those employees becoming part of the bargaining unit.

"It's the first hotel organized in Portland since the Hilton, about 35 years ago," said Jeff Richardson, financial secretary of Local 9.

Richardson was able to secure a neutrality agreement with the owners, thus avoiding a lengthy National Labor Relations Board election. Following a successful card check in which 96 percent of the employees wanted a union, negotiations were held and a contract was ratified.

"It's a great contract," Richardson said. Employer-paid pension contributions doubled, full maintenance of health and welfare benefits are provided for the duration of the contract; employees will enjoy more holidays and paid sick leave, and housekeepers will get production bonuses.

Richardson said the union is hard at work trying to organize other hotels in the Portland metropolitan area.

He reported that when the downtown Hilton Hotel expansion is completed, some 200 new employees will be brought into the existing collective bargaining agreement. "We hope to announce some more union hotels soon," Richardson said.

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