Solidarity and perseverance wins great contract

For over a year, Teamsters 856 members at the Hilton Oakland Airport fought hard for a strong contract. From the very beginning of negotiations, the bargaining team knew they wanted to break the mold, and set ambitious goals.

In April, with a vote of 59 – 0, members ratified their most comprehensive and complete contract, yet.

Chad Walsh is a 34-year hotel veteran. He works at the hotel’s front desk, and is a Shop Steward and member of the bargaining team. He said of the nine or ten contracts he’s helped negotiate, this one was different.

The Hilton Oakland Airport bargaining team

“This past contract was by far our best negotiating and my best experience going through the negotiating process,” said Chad. “We weren’t just dealing with economics. We looked at the whole contract, and decided to clean it up.”

“It took us a while, but this is my third collective bargaining agreement, and I can see the difference,” said Nusrat Khan, another member of the bargaining team who works in accounts receivable. “Everything we brought to the table was addressed.”

Before this contract, if an on-call housekeeper was called in, but unable to work a certain amount of times, they could lose their seniority – potentially resulting in less work for the housekeeper. The new agreement includes clearly defined language to protect housekeeper seniority, and establishes defined parameters for bumping in layoff situations.

Marie Washington has been a housekeeper at the hotel for 11 years

The team also revised the leave of absence section of the contract by adding registered domestic partners to the language.

In addition to updating and tightening contract language, the contract also includes great wage and benefit gains.

Fully employer paid health insurance means members will continue to pay nothing for the benefit. And now, if the cost of the health plan is less than estimated, members and the hotel will split the savings, 50-50.

Employees will also receive multiple wage increases with full retroactive pay back to the day the last contract expired.

Chad Walsh and Nusrat Khan

Chad and Nusrat agree that their contract victory is in part because of Teamsters 856 strength, a strong bargaining team, and a strong unit.

“So good to have our negotiating team be a solid, unified group,” said Chad. “Our coworkers trusted the union and the negotiating committee. People were pretty patient with us as we came up with a good contract.”

Teamsters 856 President Mike Lagomarsino chaired bargaining, and said the members’ willingness to stand strong together through a hard fight and a long process, really made all the difference.

“None of the gains achieved in bargaining would have been possible without the solidarity and support of the membership,” said Mike. “They didn’t see it as the union’s fight versus the hotel’s fight, they saw it as their fight.”

– A great reminder that Teamsters 856 members ARE THE UNION.