Jeff Smith 9:54 a.m., May 22
Hotel/worker battle escalates as cops arrest 20
Long-running Hilton Mission Valley fight could portend more labor discord
Twenty hotel workers were arrested last night (March 1) at the Hilton Mission Valley. By one account, 250 workers, community activists, and clergy members were there to protest low wages and job insecurity. The workers represent Local 30 of the Unite Here union of hotel and restaurant workers, whose pay is among the lowest in San Diego County. The union has protested at this hotel several times in the last year. The hotel is owned by Connecticut-based HEI Hotels & Resorts, whose facilities have been picketed by other Unite Here locals around the country. HEI is selling the Hilton Mission Valley to Tarsadia in Orange County. HEI has told the state it plans 148 layoffs at the Hilton. Earlier, Unite Here Local 30 members went to Tarsadia's headquarters. Tarsadia called the police.
This may be a significant shot across the bow in San Diego. Mayor Bob Filner, who is in a pitched battle with hotel owners, has stated that workers are underpaid. San Diego hotels are much less unionized than hotels in other metro areas such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Chicago.