Organizers with Unite Here!, a service industry union, said they are pushing for a “Tip Integrity Act” for local hotel workers, by taking its “Mi TIA” campaign to the streets of downtown San Antonio, within sight of major hotels.
Mike Kaib, a local organizer, said their two-day effort has volunteers asking the public for symbolic votes cast in cardboard ballot boxes to help convince City Council to adopt a local ordinance.
“We’re hoping with the passage of an ordinance (that) tips will go in the hands of the people they should be going into,” Kaib said. “It’ll pump more money into the local economy and it will be more honest.”
Kaib said specifically, a 22 percent service charge for catered hotel events sounds like it should include tips.
He said paperwork given to an employee reads, “All prices are subject to 22 percent service charge. All beverages are subject to a 22 per cent service charge.”
The San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association was unable to respond, but Tom Netting, managing director of the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, said, “Contrary to union claims, our associates including our banquet staff are well compensated."
He said they are paid nearly $16 in hourly wages, plus overtime and increased benefits with longer tenure.
Netting said, “The 22 percent service charge collected as part of large events is used to offset our associates’ wages and benefits as well as the other expenses associated with the large events.”
Ken Purvis, a visitor on the River Walk from Florida, said he had paid more than $100 extra for a $500 meeting room.
Purvis said he considered the service charge a bit excessive and wondered who benefits from it.
“I guess I tend to favor the worker more than the corporation,” Purvis said.
Dylan Daney, a former worker at the Grand Hyatt now employed by the union, said, “Folks who work in catering, who work for tips, whose families count on this money, I think they deserve it.”
However, Netting said the average tenure of local Hyatt associates is more than seven years.
“When asked their opinion in independent surveys, associates continue to distinguish Hyatt as a great place to work,” Netting said.
Kaib said Los Angeles and six states have their own tip integrity laws.
Otherwise, Kaib said as it stands now, “It’s very misleading and this is common in all the hotels.”