Hilton Bayfront workers walk off job on eve of Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO – Some 600 Hilton Bayfront San Diego workers walked off the job Wednesday just as Comic-Con is set to return to the community.

The union representing the workers, Unite Here Local 30, initiated the strike late Tuesday after leaders failed to reach a deal in contract negotiations with hotel management. Officials say the decision to strike comes down to two key issues: pay and the hotel’s policy of not having housekeepers clean rooms every day, the latter a policy which came amid the pandemic.

In a statement, Brigette Browning, the union’s president, said they “can’t allow hotel workers to continue suffering in a billion dollar industry.”

“These workers are ready to fight for what they deserve,” Browning said.

What the union initially sought was a $6 per hour raise that would be phased in over two years, officials said. Workers brought the ask down to $4 per hour Tuesday, but the union claims the hotel countered with $2.50 to come over 18 months while not ending the room cleaning policy.

A hotel spokeswoman said Wednesday in an emailed statement to FOX 5 that while they’re in negotiations with some workers for a new collective bargaining agreement, the hotel is “continuing to welcome guests and have contingency plans in place to ensure operations run as smoothly as possible.”

“We are confident that the hotel and the union will reach a fair agreement that is beneficial to both our valued Team Members and to our hotel,” the statement reads.

The union’s efforts have some high-powered supporters in the community, including Mayor Todd Gloria. Gloria along with San Diego City Councilmembers Stephen Whitburn and Raul Campillo stood with workers last week in a bid to pursue what he called “a fair contract.”

“As tourism rebounds, we must ensure our hospitality workers are able to make ends meet with good jobs, wages and benefits,” Gloria wrote in a tweet.

Hilton Bayfront San Diego workers represented by Unite Here Local 30 walked off the job Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in a strike over a new contract with hotel management. (KSWB)

Also in support is California Labor Federation leader and former state Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

“It’s always brave for workers to go out on strike,” Gonzalez tweeted Wednesday. “They deserve our support! If you’re in San Diego, go walk a picket line with our @UNITEHERE30 Hilton Bayfront worker & @brigettelocal30. And remember: never cross a picket line!”

The last similar hotel strike came in 2018, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, when Westin San Diego Gaslamp workers picketed over a new contract. It lasted 35 days and resulted in pay raises for housekeepers.

The hotel is sold out this weekend due to Comic-Con.