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Hilton labor organizing could get a boost

Thursday, October 17, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Although the city owns the land under the downtown Hilton Hotel next to the convention center, the nonprofit Austin Convention Enterprises manages the relationship with the hotel. In 2006, ACE signed an agreement with Hilton Management that prohibits the hotel from allowing a union to organize the hotel’s employees. That would change under a resolution Council is likely to approve today directing ACE’s board of directors to “strongly consider” approving a resolution that would allow Hilton to negotiate with a union if the union agrees that there will be “no strikes, picketing, or other economic labor actions” at the hotel. Council Member Greg Casar is the lead sponsor on the item and told his colleagues at Tuesday’s work session that the agreement would help protect the city. Bo Delp of UNITE HERE told the Austin Monitor that his union is “deeply troubled and deeply disappointed” that Austin Convention Enterprises would enter into an agreement prohibiting the hotel operator from allowing employees to engage in federally protected rights. Delp said the union has reviewed operating agreements with eight hotels that compete with the Austin Convention Center and none contain language “even remotely similar” to what the Austin Convention Enterprises agreed to with the Hilton. The resolution also notes that the agreement between the city and Hilton will expire in 2021 and any new agreement will be carefully scrutinized to make sure it does not contain anti-union language. Delp declined comment on whether UNITE HERE is currently working on organizing the Hilton.

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