In February, reservations, front desk, concierge, and rooms control employees at the W San Francisco hotel voted to join Teamsters 856. Three months later, they are ready to ratify their first union contract.
“Our first contract negotiations with the W Hotel were successful and went quickly and efficiently,” said Local 856 President and Senior Representative Mike Lagomarsino. “We wanted the first contract to mirror the city-wide deal and it does. It was achieved because of the strength and solidarity of the negotiations team and our members.”
Mike led the W Hotel Teamsters negotiations team and has also been working to ratify a similar city-wide agreement at the other San Francisco hotels where Local 856 represents employees. He says the strength of the tentative agreement with the W is in part because of the strength of the city-wide deal and Local 856’s density in the San Francisco hotels.
The negotiations team, which included Cesar Landeros, Andy Ma, and Jaime Lopez is proud of the finished product and recommend a yes vote on the tentative agreement (TA).
Some highlights from the TA include: wage increases for every member, fully employer-paid health insurance starting June 1, 2018, and retirement security — members will join the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan on July 1, 2018.
Jaime Lopez, a concierge for the W, had previously been a Teamster when he worked for a different hotel.
“The main priority for most of us was the pay scale and benefits,” he said. “In January, when we picked our new benefit plans, we found out we’d be paying double the price for benefits that had not improved. It pushed us over the edge and made us ready to become Teamsters.”
Andy Ma has worked at the W for four years. When he first started as a welcome ambassador, he was a member of Unite Here Local 2, but he had to leave the union when he began working at the front desk three years ago.
“I knew other union hotel workers were being paid more,” he said. “I also wanted better health insurance. I’m paying $120 in premiums per paycheck each week. Employer-paid health insurance will provide me extra money to pay my mortgage.”
Julissa Chavez also works at the W’s front desk. She says she loves her work because she’s able to help people every day. Julissa’s main priority for the first contract with the hotel was also the affordability of benefits for herself and her family.
“Our benefits were too expensive, especially with two kids,” she explained. “Now, I will be able to go to the doctor and see a practitioner for my health without avoiding it for weeks or months because of the cost of a checkup. I can just go and make sure I’m healthy.”
While the W Hotel Teamsters are expected to vote on the tentative agreement in the next few weeks, they are already excited about the union difference they’ve seen at work. “We have a voice,” said Julissa. “If we want something to go a certain way, we know we will be heard.”