Negotiations resume Tuesday morning on a new two-year contract for roughly 600 employees at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The talks could determine whether a strike will happen during Comic-Con, which starts later this week.
“If we don’t have a contract done by Wednesday morning, we will pull everybody off the job and we will start protesting,” Unite Here Local 30 president Bridgette Browning said.
Browning represents the unionized hotel workers as their contract negotiator. She said they’ve been without a new contract since their previous three-year agreement expired in November.
“I think the workers are prepared to go on strike if the company doesn’t come up with real money in the negotiations. We’re used to getting 50 cents, 75 cents — that’s not going to cut it this time,” she said.
The Hilton proposed a 50-cent per hour raise last month. KPBS reached out to the hotel for comment, but they didn’t respond in time.
Some hotel workers said they have to hold more than one job to make ends meet.
“As rents have escalated at an unprecedented pace, our wages just did not keep up with them,” Browning said. “It’s just a reality of living in a very, very expensive city. Then you couple on gas and food to all of that, and it just makes it so that our members are being forced to live more and more in poverty.”
Browning said hourly pay for the majority of unionized workers at the Hilton currently ranges from $18 to $21. Unite Here is seeking a $3-an-hour raise per year over two years, or a $6 raise over the next two years.
The union also wants a return to standard, daily room cleanings as housekeeping employees said their hours have been cut by roughly 30%.
“We have to have real wage increases and we have to go back to standard room cleaning. I think there’s a lot of other things we’re asking for, but there’s flexibility on how we get there or when we get there. But those two things, there’s not a lot of flexibility on,” Browning said.
Browning played a large role in the last hotel strike in San Diego during 2018, when workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp walked off their jobs for 35 days. She helped to negotiate a new contract, giving housekeepers a 40% pay raise over four years.
A new city ordinance which tightens the use of surveillance technology was passed unanimously by the San Diego City Council Monday. Then, a KPBS review of nearly 500 use-of-force incidents shows it’s rare for local police officers to be fired or even suspended when they kill or severely injure people.