Portland Hilton increases employee wages as calls for more intensifies

Union organizer Unite Here Local 8 reached an agreement with the Portland Hilton Hotel and Executive Tower in Portland, Ore., for a three-year contract to raise wages $1.55 an hour.

According to NW Labor Press, the contract covers roughly 265 workers, and maintains current health benefits and pension contributions, and if ratified housekeepers will earn $15.20 an hour by the contract's July 31, 2017 expiration. Line cooks and hosts will earn slightly higher wags, while dishwashers and banquet bartenders will earn slightly less.

As part of the contract, management also dropped a proposal to gain the right to schedule workers for short shifts, meaning shifts have to be eight hours. Other stipulations in the contract include clarifications on paid vacation leave.

The hotel industry is facing a wide-scale push for wage increases, and Portland is not even the main stage of the event. Two industry groups, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) are suing the city of Los Angeles over its scheduled $15.37 increase, claiming it tips the balance of power in favor of unions and will lead to a wide scale loss of jobs. At the same time, an October survey from the AH&LA argued that the hotel industry is already paying many of its workers above the minimum wage and leads many to promotions within the industry.

in late February, New York City's governor Andrew M. Cuomo revealed tipped workers in the city will soon get a wage increase to $7.50 an hour, in addition to tips. The New York Times reported this increase will go into effect at the end of 2015, and will consolidate workers whose minimum hourly wages range from $4.90 to $5.65 into a single class to be paid at least $7.50 an hour.

The demands have even spilled outside the U.S., where hotel employees in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon began a protest this week as they seek higher wages. Hotel workers there claim their wages haven't increased in five years, according to Shanghai Daily, and though the Portuguese government recently agreed to raise the national minimum wage to 505 euros, Portugal still has the lowest minimum wage in Southern Europe.