Hotel Strikes and Healthcare

Today was the start of a 3 day strike of local union workers against the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco. The issue on the table? Why health care of course.

From Business Wire

Hotel workers walked off the job this morning at the Grand Hyatt Union Square in San Francisco, announcing a 3-day strike against the property, according to Unite Here Local 2…The work stoppage comes two weeks after members of Unite Here Local 2 voted by over 92% to authorize strikes at any of 31 upscale hotel properties in San Francisco. Workers at the Grand Hyatt will return to work on Sunday, November 8, but have called for customers to honor an ongoing boycott at that property. Workers at other San Francisco hotels remain on the job, though job actions remain a possibility elsewhere..”

It seems that the workers have accepted lower raises over the past few years in order to maintain their health insurance plans. This year, however, management has stated that the employees need to pay a larger share of the health care costs.

From SFGate:

Management says premium costs have tripled in the past 10 years, requiring monthly outlays of $1,080 per month, per employee. It wants workers to pick up a share of future costs through higher contributions and co-payments.

Hyatt negotiator Bill Dritsas said co-payments for visits to the doctor or emergency room have been pegged at $5 for 30 years, as have the cost-per-day for hospital stays. He wants a five-year contract that will cap the Hyatt’s health care outlays at $1,235 at the end of that period, and force whatever benefit or co-payment changes are necessary to keep payments under that.

[Union President Mike] Casey said the union is not opposed to higher emergency room co-payments to hold down rate increases but will fight to keep doctor’s visits and hospitalization costs as low as possible so workers don’t forgo routine medical care. He said the union has proposed a one-year contract that would cost the Grand Hyatt just $250,000 to maintain current benefits and provide small raises for its unionized workers while the two sides work on a longer-term fix. Dritsas said the Hyatt wants a multi-year contract that addresses the health insurance issues now rather than later.

Talks resume next week. I really do hope that they can get it settled, but something tells me that this is just the tip of the health care iceberg.

UPDATE: It now looks like workers with Local 2 are now on strike at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, walking off the job at 4:00 AM Tuesday. Issue at hand? Healthcare, healthcare, healthcare.