by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 01, 2013

Unite Here Local 2 and the 1,908-room Hilton San Francisco Union Square, the city's largest property, signed a new five-year agreement in March, five months before the current collective bargaining agreement was set to expire. The new contract, which runs from Aug. 14, 2013, through Aug. 13, 2018, improves job security, provides wage increases, and secures medical benefits and pensions.

"This is a rare occurrence," said Mike Casey, president of Local 2. "After years of open warfare with the industry in San Francisco and other cities, I think Hilton asked, ‘Is there a smarter way to deal with this?' We're in the process of getting the same deal with Starwood and Marriott, and I expect this to set the pattern for all the hotels we'll be negotiating with this year."

Allen B. Rob­erts, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York City, agrees that continued scuffles are unnecessary. "I think we will see more early intervention," said Roberts, who represents management in such cases but was not involved with this negotiation. "With a mature contract that will essentially remain in place, let's take a look at what we really need to fix for the good of everybody -- workers, families, the business -- without the disruptions of a make-or-break contract that could be contentious."