July 4, 2008 Volume 109 Number 13

Workers at Vancouver Hilton hotel get first union contract

Workers at the Hilton Vancouver Washington hotel and convention center ratified their first-ever union contract June 26, bringing to a close a two-year long contract campaign. Workers there joined UNITE HERE Local 9 in June 2006.

The new contract clears the way for the formal end of Seattle and Portland boycotts of the Hilton. All three hotels are now under contracts that will expire simultaneously in 2011.

The vote, by about 70 percent of the 140 employees, was eight-to-one in favor of approving the contract, said chief negotiator Rick Sawyer. The contract contained the same job security language as the recently concluded Portland deal, with rules against outsourcing, and successorship in the event of hotel sale.

Wages and benefits, while not up to the Portland and Seattle standard, were good for a first hotel contract, Sawyer said. Non-tipped employees get a 5 percent increase, while banquet department employees get a 5 percent increase in their take from the service charge levied on banquet customers. Workers will be now paid time-and-a-half after eight hours in a shift, and double time starting the seventh consecutive day of work. Employees also get a one-time contract-signing bonus of $200, or $100 for on-call workers and recent hires within the last six months.

Monthly employee premiums on the company’s employee-only health insurance plan dropped to $40 a month from $89. Workers will now have access to the union’s 401(k) pension plan, though contributions to that are still up to the employee, with no employer match. And they’ll now be participants in the defined pension program, with the employer contribution starting at 33 cents an hour.

Housekeepers will have the same daily room quota as the Portland contract — 15 rooms.

And the contract contains a re-opener next year, meaning bargaining on further improvements to wages and benefits will begin next March.

(Editor’s Note: Some building trades union locals are not patronizing the Vancouver Hilton Hotel and Convention Center because portions of the facility were built by nonunion subcontractors. However, neither the Oregon State BCTC or the Columbia Pacific BCTC have sanctioned a boycott against the Vancouver Hilton.)


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