Sheraton hotel workers and their supporters converted on the Petaluma Sheraton on Thursday evening to advocate for pay increases and a contract that guarantees job security should the hotel ever be sold.
The large crowd of union workers— estimates ranged from 100 to 300 people — was joined by a marching band as it picketed outside the main entrance to the hotel with signs that read “Fair Contract Now!”
Local officials like Mayor David Glass, Vice Mayor Tiffany Renée, Councilmember Teresa Barrett and former mayor Pam Torliatt showed up in support of the unionized workers, as well as members of local Occupy groups.
The union's last contract expired in the summer of 2009 and the union started negotiating with hotel management in late 2010. Union representatives say disagreements over a few key provisions have prevented them from agreeing to a new contract with the hotel.
Sheraton workers who attended the rally spoke most passionately about wanting pay increases and a provision that guarantees workers job security if the hotel is ever sold.The latter is a provision that hotel workers around the region are advocating for.
Hotel management has emphasized that it is not considering selling the hotel.
Hotel General Manager David Scott said the hotel is also eager to get a contract signed, adding that the hotel and the union have already come to agreements on most of the provisions in the contract.
“We're down to three or four final issues,” he said, “but the last ones are the tough ones.”
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for the first week of August, Scott said.
Scott recognized the rally as “the right of the union” and said that, despite the large and boisterous turnout, the event went smoothly, with no guests complaining.
“I appreciate that the organizers did a good job of managing where the rally participants marched,”he said.
Leticia Analco, one of many Sheraton workers who joined the rally, spoke through a translator about why she participated:
“We have a lot of hope that because of the march we're doing, we'll get a good contract.”