Some 4,300 hotel workers in San Francisco remain locked out by their employers in a dispute over pay and conditions, centring on healthcare costs.
The strike is affecting all basic services to the hotels including housekeeping, laundry, catering and reception.
The dispute began on 29 September and followed a 97 percent vote in favour of industrial action after management proposed miniscule pay rises and massively increased medical costs, with some employees to be cut off from medical benefits altogether.
When the strike began, ten hotels locked out their workers in a coordinated attempt to break union organisation. But the employers’ tactics haven’t worked.
Despite bringing in scab workers, the hotels are finding it hard to maintain adequate services. The strikers have been staging noisy 24-hour pickets outside the hotels involved, urging guests “Don’t check in—check out!”
The pickets have drawn support from office and shop workers, local residents and even the mayor of San Francisco.
Healthcare is a major issue for US workers. There is no NHS. Instead companies pay a proportion of their employees’ medical bills. However, across the country bosses are trying to increase the amount paid towards healthcare by their employees.
The workers involved are some of the lowest paid in the city. They are mainly Asian-American and Latino, and many of them are women.
If they can win it will be a major blow to the employers’ attempt to renege on their healthcare commitments, and a step forward for union organisation in this vital sector.
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