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Recap of negotiations in Puerto Rico

Noticias desde la Gastronómica - November 12, 2009 Share/Save/Bookmark

Today Hilton submitted their economic counter proposal to union negotiators. Hilton negotiators did not come prepared to discuss how they costed out their economic proposal. They did not translate their proposal so that employees who do not read English could understand. The proposal was received by Hilton employees and union negotiators as an insult. Hilton's proposal included the following:

Hilton's plan for health care is worse than their proposed wage package. Hilton is proposing a weak version of the Triple S plan. Hilton will only pay for a 5% increase in yearly premium cost. If the premium increases by more than 5%, the employee must pay the remaining increase. As John Boardman, President of the DC hotel workers union, Local 25, and insurance specialist, pointed out, the cost of premiums increase, on average, by 8.5% per year. This means that under Hilton's proposal, employees would have to pay about $120 more per year in insurance premiums. Considering that Hilton's wage proposal is so low that many employees would actually be losing more than the value of their raises to insurance premiums. After 6 years, this means that Caribe employees would be paying 7 times more than what they currently pay, roughly what Condado and ESJ members currently pay for their health coverage.

Jim Donovan, union negotiator, explained that if Hilton is able to pass increases in premiums onto employees they actually have an interest in the premiums going up. If employees can't afford the premium, they drop out of the plan and the employer doesn't have to pay into health insurance for that employee. This trick of keeping premiums so high that employees don't even use the offered health care is exactly why 1/3 of employees in the Condado and ESJ currently don't use the health care. Hilton's proposed health care would lead to less people being covered in the long run.

Some basics: under Hilton's proposed health plan physicals are not covered. Organ transplants are not covered. Fetal monitoring is not covered. The interpretation of mammogram and sonogram is not covered -- this means the test is covered, but an employee has to pay if he wants a doctor to tell him what the test means for his health. Any new drug (including experimental drugs, which are generally life saving drugs and the most expensive) is only covered by the employer up to 30% of the total cost.

Union negotiating committee voted to submit Hilton's proposal to the vote of the membership with the recommendation that members vote "no" to Hilton's proposal and vote "yes" to authorize union leaders to call a strike when necessary. John Boardman told Hilton negotiators that the 1000 Local 25 union members who work in the 3 Hilton hotels in Washington, DC (two of which are among Hilton's top 10 grossing hotels) know what Hilton is doing here in Puerto Rico and support the members of Local 610. Peter Ward said that the 4,000 Local 6 (two of which are Hilton's top 2 grossing properties) members who work in 5 Hilton hotels in NY also support Local 610.

Related Issues: Hilton Hotels Corporation, Local 610 Contract Fight, Puerto Rico