For more than five years, the UNITE HERE union has tried to organize workers at five hotels near Los Angeles International Airport. Today the Radisson LAX became the fourth of those hotels to sign a labor contract. KPCC's Brian Watt went to the signing ceremony.
Brian Watt: The contract raises workers hourly pay by $2.60 over three years. It also provides free medical and dental insurance to employees who work 25 hours or more per week. Thirty-nine-year-old Ricardo Blanco has delivered room service food at the Radisson for seven years.
Ricardo Blanco: This new contract will mean that I no longer have to worry about my wife not having medical benefits.
Watt: Another clause in the contract says Blanco and his co-workers will pocket the service charge the hotel adds when guests order room service.
Blanco: We gain dignity and respect. That's very important, beside money.
Watt: Blanco said he saw a few of his co-workers let go for trying to organize, but that was before Peter Dumon acquired the Radisson about a year and a half ago.
Peter Dumon: This is a business about getting people to come back.
Watt: Dumon said this union partnership will keep workers happy – and will keep them around for a while. He maintained that giving them raises and benefits is good for long-term profits.
Dumon: Even in the current economic climate. I understand that it's thanks to the dedication and commitment of these workers who on a daily business execute our vision for Los Angeles, who serve our guests.
Watt: Dumon also pointed out that labor unions have lots of meetings – and only hold those meetings at union hotels. With the Radisson and three other airport area hotels signed up, UNITE HERE Local 11 wants to organize workers at one more: the Hilton LAX. The union continues to boycott that hotel.