Sofitel security guards ratify their first NYHTC contract

NYHTC — July 26, 2010

On July 1, 2010, the security guards at the Sofitel New York ratified their first union contract. With this contract, they join the rest of the bargaining unit employees at the Sofitel and will now have the wages, benefits and protections that come with being members of the New York Hotel Trades Council.

The workers in the Sofitel security department had felt for years that management treated them with less respect than their union coworkers. They also received lower wages than the hotel's union employees, and felt that this was unfair.

Union members in the hotel, particularly delegates, had often encouraged them to join the union. The security guards were finally spurred to act, and contacted a union organizer, when one of their managers threatened to have their department subcontracted. The security guards took this not only as a threat to their jobs but also as an insult. "That was the last straw. It's like he's saying that what we do doesn't matter because he can just bring in some other guys and pay them next to nothing," said Derek May, the department's newly elected union delegate.

As a result of the new contract, each security guard received a raise of at least $1.50 per hour, with an additional raise of $.50 per hour for workers certified as fire safety directors. These increases were retroactive one month, so each security guard also received backpay for that period. In addition, owing to the Industry Wide Agreement's annual wage increase provisions, the workers also received an additional raise of $.50 per hour on July 1, 2010.

Under the terms of the security guard's union contract, the hotel must now begin to pay all the costs the security guards incur in maintaining their New York State security and fire safety director licenses, including lost wages for time spent attending classes and taking examinations. This is an important new provision, as security guards and fire safety directors in New York are required by law to undergo costly and time consuming certification procedures that sometimes require them to miss work.

After reviewing the new contract, Derek May remarked, "we should have done this a long time ago."