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Doorpersons and bellpersons overwhelmingly ratify porterage agreement

Hotel Voice - September 23, 2013 Share/Save/Bookmark

These two stacks of ballots tell it all. the 285 "yes" votes are on the left. The six "no" votes are on the right.

An agreement between the Union and the Hotel Association will result in higher earnings for hundreds of members of door and bell staffs at non-residential hotels that do group trade.

The agreement was ratified overwhelmingly in a secret ballot vote held on Thursday, September 12. A total of 285 members — or 98 percent of those who cast ballots — voted in favor of the agreement.

The agreement is the result of a longstanding effort by the Union to address changes in the tourist trade concerning the servicing of groups, as well as the porterage rates paid by certain hotels. “The fact is that contractual wage increases did not fully account for changes in the tourist trade as it related to doorpersons and bellpersons,” Hotel Trades Council President Peter Ward said. “But the Union was successful in addressing this issue in industry-wide agreement (IWA) negotiations last year.”

The way the Union addressed the issue in the 2012 contract talks was by reaching an agreement with the Hotel Association providing for the establishment of a study committee which would attempt to negotiate a resolution. The agreement further stated that if this effort was unsuccessful the issues were to be submitted to a panel of three arbitrators who would have limited authority to impose a resolution. 

After members overwhelmingly ratified the 2012 IWA, the Union formed a porterage committee to take part in the negotiations. This committee consisted of more than 20 experienced doorpersons and bellpersons from non-residential hotels throughout the city that do group trade. The Hotel Association’s committee was made up of representatives from various hotel employers.

As part of the negotiations, the Union requested a large amount of information from many hotels throughout the city regarding porterage. This information was carefully studied by Hotel Trades Council General Counsel and Local 6 Executive Vice President Richard Maroko and Grievance Manager Joseph Messineo. Through this information, the Union was able to formulate proposals.

There were numerous meetings and negotiation sessions, finally resulting in a tentative agreement with the Hotel Association regarding porterage. The proposal was first overwhelmingly ratified and endorsed by the Union’s porterage committee. It was then put before doorpersons and bellpersons from affected hotels in the secret ratification vote on September 12, where it was overwhelmingly approved.

Under the approved agreement both the hourly wage rate of pay and the porterage rate will increase beyond what the arbitrators would have been permitted to award under the IWA. Members who spoke with Hotel Voice following the ratification vote expressed great satisfaction with the agreement.

“After such a long struggle on such a complicated issue, it is wonderful that management and the Union, through its porterage committee, have come to a satisfactory agreement that fairly compensates the hard working members of the door and bell staffs in these non-residential hotels that do group trade,” said Local 6 Vice President Harry Rygor, who worked closely with the committee. “Frankly, without the leadership of Peter Ward this would have never happened.”

Rygor added that in addition to Peter Ward there were others who deserved thanks. “The members of the porterage committee did a superb job wading through a very complex problem,” he said. “And Local 6 Executive Vice President Richard Maroko and Grievance Manager Joseph Messineo were immeasurably valuable.”

The increases in the hourly wage rate and the porterage rate will take place over the life of the current IWA, with the first to take place on January 1, 2014. These increases will be in addition to the increases already contained in the IWA such as the four percent (4%) increase all members under the IWA will receive on July 1, 2014.

Here are members of the porterage committee at one of its meetings to discuss negotiations for a porterage agreement. Also present are Local 6 Executive Vice President Richard Maroko and Vice President Harry Rygor.

Members voting on the porterage agreement.

More members voting on the porterage agreement.