New contract at Portland Hilton, after two years bargaining


UNITE HERE Local 8 reached a tentative agreement on April 11 that raises wages and restores automatic daily room cleaning at the Hilton and Duniway hotels in downtown Portland. 

Local 8 represents about 125 workers across the two Hilton-owned hotels, including housekeepers, cooks, bellhops, and reception clerks. Under past contracts, most workers have received raises every February and August. But the previous agreement expired February 2022, and those workers have gone more than two years without a raise. (At least some tipped workers at the hotel, like bellhops, are paid the Portland minimum wage, which is currently set at $15.45 an hour. Their wages go up when minimum wage does.) 

Andi Tiffany, a cook at the Duniway, makes about $20 an hour after working for the hotel for 15 years. Tiffany said low wages in the kitchen have led to high turnover, chronic short staffing, and increased workloads for those who stick around. Usually the kitchen is considered fully staffed with six cooks. Right now it’s operating with three, Tiffany said. 

“We’ve lost a lot of really excellent cooks from the kitchen because we wore them out so quickly,” Tiffany said.

The tentative agreement, if ratified by workers, would provide a 50-cent-an-hour raise every February and August though Feb. 1, 2027 for non-tipped workers. It also includes retroactive raises dating back to Aug. 1, 2022, following the six-month pattern. For Tiffany, it would mean a 25% pay increase overall. 

The agreement also would require hotel managers to bring back automatic daily room cleaning by June 1, 2024. The hotels must begin phasing in the service on May 5. 

“This should mean that many senior housekeepers who have not been getting regular work will be able to get full time hours again,” Local 8 Organizer Be Marston told the Labor Press by text April 15. 

In 2021, most Hilton hotels nationwide implemented a new “flexible housekeeping” policy that made daily housekeeping available by request only, instead of as an automatic service. That meant hotel rooms where guests stayed multiple nights would be cleaned after they checked out, instead of every day of their stay, unless the guests requested daily cleaning.

On Oct. 1, 2023, the company announced it would restore daily room cleaning at its full service brands, but the Portland locations have yet to do that. When rooms are not cleaned daily, there’s less day-to-day work available for the housekeeping staff, Marston said. In Portland, many housekeepers have seen their hours cut. They pick up work when a guest asks for additional cleaning, but much of that scheduling happens last minute. 

Managers had ignored Local 8’s requests to bring back the service locally, Marston said by phone April 12. That is, until recently, when members started taking collective action. On at least three days in April, several Local 8 members posted up outside the hotels to distribute fliers asking guests to contact hotel managers and request they restore automatic daily room cleaning. The Hilton/Duniway is one of just four union hotels in Portland, so labor friendly organizations often book them for events, like conferences, Marston said.

“We got a lot of traction with people who took the flier and said they would send an email,” Marston said. “Once we started doing that, it turned rejection (from management) into, ‘OK, we are going to do it.’” 

A ratification vote was not scheduled when this issue went to press. 


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