Union members protest proposed cuts to benefits from Hilton

For New York union members who do not believe they are being treated fairly when employers are negotiating a new contract or are failing to live up to the requirements of a current contract, it is imperative to understand labor law, the right to protest and how to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. Workers have alternatives when collective bargaining and various tactics such as picketing and even encouraging a boycott of the business are ways to make certain that their complaints are heard. Having legal assistance with these matters is vital to any situation.

A Hilton hotel in New York is being picketed by union members because of attempts on the part of ownership to eliminate a pension plan and a request for other concessions on the part of the union. The Hotel Trades Council represents an estimated 35,000 workers across the state including 140 at this Hilton. The people are bartenders, food service employees, cooks, front desk employees and more. The ownership group is negotiating its first contract with this union.

The owners would like to change the current pension plan to one in which part of the workers' hourly wages are matched and put into a 401(k). A person who has worked at the hotel for 25 years would be forced to pay more than $5,000 if such a plan is put into effect. The owners would also like to reduce the workers' days off for bereavement from five to three. A week of paid vacation time would be rescinded, and the minimum amount of pay workers are guaranteed if they are called in on their days off would be reduced. The negotiations on the contract have not started and the picketing is viewed as a preemptive maneuver to ensure that the public is aware of the strategies the owners of the hotel are using.

Union members might think they are on a stronger ground as a group than they would be as individuals when seeking their rights be adhered to and fair contracts and benefits provided. However, if an employer is trying to reduce such benefits as vacation time, bereavement time and alter retirement contributions, it can have a negative effect on the workers' lives. Legal assistance is often the key to the union making certain workers are protected. Before moving forward with a negotiation or any action, it is wise to have a lawyer's assistance.

Source: timesunion.com. "Union pickets over contract dispute at Hilton Albany Hotel," Brian Nearing, Sept. 16, 2017

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