Hilton San Diego Bayfront workers strike as Comic-Con gets underway
Hundreds of workers were picketing outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel on Wednesday after negotiations broke off late Tuesday night.
Unite Here Local 30, the union representing the 600 hotel workers, said they couldn't reach what they considered a fair agreement with hotel management.
"The rent that we’re paying is very expensive," Leticia Diaz Morales said in Spanish. "The salary is not enough to pay the rent, the food. We’re losing out on a lot."
Morales has worked as a housekeeper at the hotel for the past three years. The union originally sought a $6 an hour wage increase over two years, but in formal talks Tuesday they came down to $4 an hour over two years.
The hotel countered with a $2.50 an hour raise over 18 months. Management also wanted to continue the pandemic-era policy of not having housekeepers clean rooms daily.
Hotel management initially offered only a 50-cent wage increase.
The strike comes as Comic-Con International is about to kick off. It's unclear at this time how the strike will affect the pop-culture convention. Several Comic-Con events are being hosted at the hotel.
In a statement, a Hilton San Diego Bayfront spokesperson said the hotel is "continuing to welcome guests and has contingency plans in place to ensure a smooth operation."
"We are confident that the hotel and the union will reach a fair agreement that is beneficial to both our valued Team Members and to our hotel," the statement said.
Brigette Browning, union president of Unite Here Local 30, said the hotel’s average $20 an hour wage isn’t enough to survive anymore in San Diego.
"Almost all of the workers are out here with us, so they have incompetent, poorly trained temps trying to replace us. And frankly, they don't know how to do our jobs," she said. "So I think guest service is absolutely going to suffer unless Hilton reaches back out to us and says, 'We found the money; let's go back to negotiations.’"
Some hotel guests, however, don't think they'll be affected by the strike. Nick Hornbaker is in town from Arizona and staying at the Hilton Bayfront hotel with his wife for Comic-Con.
"You get a little bit of noise, a little bit less room cleaning — I don't really mind either of those things," he said. "Usually, we just hide all our stuff that we got from the Con in the room anyway and we put a 'Do not disturb sign' on, so it doesn't really mind me that the room’s not going to be cleaned. And then we just happen to be high up enough that it's not even that loud."
The union said workers are prepared to stay on strike as long as necessary and don't plan to back down from their $4 per hour raise proposal or the reinstatement of daily room cleanings.