Claremont Employees Stage One More Picket By JAKOB SCHILLER

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Claremont workers said they hope the 12-hour picket line they staged at the hotel on Friday will be their last. 

After marching pickets for almost three years as part of boycott and labor dispute, employees said they wanted to send a message now that KSL Recreation Corp., the company that manages the resort, is on its way out. According to their union, UNITE-HERE Local 2850, employees are hopeful that the new management company will agree to recognize the union and end the labor dispute. 

“We’re thrilled to death,” said Wei-Ling Huber, vice president of 2850 about the news. “We couldn’t imagine being anyone much worse, although we’re still cautious.” 

KSL, which used to own the Claremont, sold the landmark hotel to CNL, an Orlando-based real-estate investment trust, in February. KSL then signed a temporary contract with CNL to stay on as the property management company. According to the union, employees were told the contract would not be re-signed and will expire at the end of the year. 

A spokesperson from the Claremont did not return phone calls and the spokespeople for CNL were unavailable. 

“I think [CNL’s decision] has a lot do with the labor dispute,” said Huber. 

Local 2850 has been running a general boycott of the hotel in an effort to force it to re-negotiate two existing contracts and sign a new contract for spa workers. According to the union, the main sticking point in contract negotiations has been health care. Spa workers have unsuccessfully tried to get the company to recognize their efforts to unionize.  

“It’s very sad to be here for another Christmas,” said Fidel Arroyo, a cook who has worked at the Claremont for 10 years, as he stood next to the picket line. “The company has plenty of money, they could have settled the fight when they wanted.” 

At the picket, the union passed out bags of food and Christmas hams. They also issued monthly aid checks to workers to help them pay for their health care coverage because the Claremont stopped paying for premium increases when their contract expired.