June 22, 2006

New York hotel workers set to ratify deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York hotel workers look set to
ratify a new contract with the city's leading hotels, except
two Hilton Hotels Corp. properties where talks are turning
contentious, a union spokesman said on Thursday.

The Hotel Association of New York and the New York Hotel
Trades Council, a group of nine unions, last week reached a
tentative six-year contract, which promises wage increases and
better benefits to some 23,000 nonmanagement employees.

The members of the union are voting on the contract on
Thursday. "My own informal exit poll -- it is going to be
overwhelmingly ratified," union spokesman John Turchiano said.

But separate talks with Hilton on Wednesday for a new
contract covering 2,000 workers at the Waldorf-Astoria and
Hilton New York were acrimonious, Turchiano said. "It looks
like they may be thinking about locking us out."

A Hilton spokesman said the hotelier had agreed to the
major issues covering wages and other benefits along with the

"We have agreed to the bigger economic issues," spokesman
Marc Grossman said. "If the union wanted to, there is no reason
this deal couldn't get done by the expiration date."

Key issues at negotiations with Hilton include a demand for
back pay and concerns about health and safety of employees at
the hotels, Turchiano said.

The two sides are scheduled to go back to the negotiating
table on June 27, just three days before the current contract

Negotiations between hotels and the unions in New York are
precursors to talks in several other major North American
cities where contracts expire this year.

Hotels in Hawaii face contract deadlines later this month,
followed by Chicago in August and Boston and Los Angeles in
November. The contract for Toronto-based hotel workers has
already expired.

San Francisco, which has been without a hotel workers
contract since September 2004, has seen periodic clashes
between workers and hotels.

The new contract in New York, which covers 133 hotels,
would offer wage increases of 4 percent in each of the first
three years of the contract and 3.5 percent in the remaining
three. It is scheduled to become effective from July 1.

Major hotels with properties in New York include Marriott
International Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
and InterContinental Hotels Group Plc.