Last Christmas, Father Bill O’Donnell, Councilmember Kriss Worthington and a host of labor activists donned santa hats and sat in the Berkeley Marina Radisson Hotel lobby chanting Christmas carols with pro-union lyrics.
This holiday season, they’ll change their tune.
Friday, Hotel Employee and Restaurant Employee Union Local 2850 negotiators put the final touches on a contract they will recommend to the Radisson workers who will vote on the contract next week.
“The housekeepers and dishwashers will have a merry Christmas this year,” said Wei-Ling Hubert, an organizer with HERE.
In June, after nine months of negotiations with hotel management, claims filed against the hotel with the National Labor Relations Board, and a city government boycott of the hotel, hotel management approved the workers’ demand to unionize. Contract negotiations began over the summer.
Radisson General Manager Brij Misra also said he was happy with the proposed contract. “I’m very pleased with our negotiations that we completed today,” he said. “I look forward to working with our associates who make sure that everyone who comes here gets the best service in the East Bay.” He added that the hotel’s goal was always to support its employees.
When told of the completed contract negotiations, Councilmember Kriss Worthington said: “It’s a victory for all the hard work of the employees who risked punishment and firing for starting up a union.”
Before commenting on whether the city would end its boycott of the hotel, Worthington said he would first have to check with union organizers, but that he thought the city would. “It’s so exciting to have a victory like this,” he said.
Because the workers have not yet seen the contract, Hubert said she did not want to comment on specifics of the terms that have been negotiated. However, she said gains were made in the area of health benefits, pensions and wage increases over five years.
The elderly workers without pensions “were a huge inspiration to the other workers,” Hubert said. “The workers stayed united and would not give up.”