Cash, Not Clunkers
Quail Lodge workers threaten to protest the resort’s wage freezes—in time for Car Week.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
As vintage car enthusiasts roll into Quail Lodge for Car Week, picketers might greet them. If a contract deal isn’t struck, UNITE HERE Local 483 members and union allies are planning a rally in front of the posh Carmel Valley resort’s entrance on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Union members say the hotel has demanded unreasonable cutbacks, including freezing wages and health insurance for three years, eliminating the half-hour paid meal break and reducing accumulated sick leave by five days. “They are trying to use the economy as an excuse to roll back a quarter century of union benefits,” says Mark Weller, projects coordinator for Local 483.
The hotel and the union have been negotiating since June. A federal mediator began working to resolve the dispute July 31, a day before the old contract expired.
Sarah Cruse, Quail Lodge general manager, says the resort has suffered significant financial losses over the last three years. “Quail Lodge cannot continue to sustain any more losses,” she says. “Like any other business, we have to adjust and we have to look at our labor costs.” Cruse says she is also asking for increased productivity, including having housekeepers clean 12 rooms a day instead of 10.
Feliciana Buentipo, a hotel housekeeper, says she is worried about working additional hours and straining her back with the extra workload. At 63, she is also worried about cuts to her health insurance and pension plan. “I need everything we have now,” Buentipo says.
Quail Lodge is owned by Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, which operates prestigious hotels in Asia and the United States. The company’s chairman and majority shareholder is Sir Michael Kadoorie, who Forbes lists as the 124th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $4.2 billion.