What’s going on with Kimpton Hotels in its hometown of San Francisco? Big changes are underway with its properties there following its recent acquisition by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for $430 million. At least two of them have been “de-branded” — i.e., removed from the Kimpton group — and the same could happen to more, apparently due to a battle over unionization.
UPDATE: July 30 – according to the Kimpton Hotels web site today, there are only TWO Kimpton hotels left in San Francisco: The Buchanan in Japantown and Sir Francis Drake in Union Square.
Gone from the chain are: The Argonaut, The Palomar, The Monaco, The Harbor Court, The Prescott, The Triton, The Tuscan Inn
The first to drop out was the Hotel Monaco San Francisco on Geary Street two blocks from Union Square, which has been renamed The Marker Hotel, managed by Destination Hotels and Resorts. That was followed this week by the loss of the Hotel Palomar at 4th and Market streets, according to a letter sent to members of the Kimpton Karma frequent guest program. The website hotelchatter.com said it learned that property is now being operated by a subsidiary of Benchmark Hotels.
While IHG bought the Kimpton brand and management operations, the individual hotels are owned by other companies. Of the original seven Kimpton propeties in San Francisco, three are owned by LaSalle Hotel Properties and four by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, according to Unite Here Local 2, the city’s hotel and restaurant workers’ union.
The union charged in a press release this week that IHG, LaSalle and Pebblebrook are taking “extraordinary steps to evade contractual commitments pertaining to hotel employee organizing rights,” creating “a climate of uncertainty and disruption” at all seven properties.
Unite Here Local 2 claims that its contract with IHG gives it the right to attempt to organize workers at the Kimpton hotels that are now part of IHG, and that the three hotel firms are trying to stop that effort by moving the properties away from Kimpton to other management companies.
“These three companies are acting in extreme bad faith, and their decision to take such radical action now has caused real harm to hotel workers in San Francisco,” said union chief Anand Singh, claiming that a number of employees have already lost their jobs due to the companies’ actions.
The union urged the hotel companies involved “to take immediate steps to undo that damage and make the affected parties whole.”
What happens next? Hard to say, but Unite Here Local 2 has not been known for backing away from confrontation. Last winter, 1,000 of its members at Los Angeles International Airport launched a strike against 55 restaurants there. And in 2011, members went on strike at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center and the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco.
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