Vancouver Hilton Employees & Supporters Comments to City Council

by lewwaters

Parts of a few of the comments made to the Vancouver, Washington city council, October 24, 2011 as they seek a 53% wage & benefit increase.

To see full comments, visit http://www.cityofvancouver.us/cvtv/cvtvindex.asp?section=25437&folderID=3104 and click on “Citizen Forum.”

It is said they desire a 53% wage & Benefit increase and Hilton management is offering 3%. Many moan and groan that they earn less than Portland, Oregon counterparts.

The city is not involved in negotiations with the union, even though the Hotel is city owned, but privately managed. This is the same Hilton we were recently told the city would like forgiveness of a $4.4 Million debt from the county.

The Hilton continues to struggle in this economy, having dipped into their room-tax reserves last winter, but has not yet required any funding from the general fund.

The Hilton did lower rates previously to draw conventioneers in and claims are it has improved slightly.

But, if the unions, after their threats of boycotting and striking get their way, will the city have to step up to cover increased costs during this elongated downturn in the economy?

11 Comments to “Vancouver Hilton Employees & Supporters Comments to City Council”

  1. Lou, the city does not own the Hilton. It is owned by the Public Facilities District (PFD). The Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA) leases the hotel from the PFD. See http://bit.ly/vOO65w for a memo from DRA explaining this.

    The city of Vancouver is not a party to the operating agreement between the DRA and the Hilton. Because of this, the City of Vancouver has no role or responsibility in the labor negotiations. Given that the city has no role or responsibility, the city can’t jump into the middle of it any more than the city could jump into the middle of a union negotiation with a private business.

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  2. That’s sort of splitting hairs, isn’t it Jack, given that the PFD was set up by City Council and board members appointed by city council?

    http://www.cityofvancouver.us/News.asp?Id=80443&submenuID=16578

    Kind of like Millionaire CEO’s being chauffeured around in expensive limousines don’t own the cars, their companies do?

    Days ago the Columbian reported in an article, “The Hilton manages the property, while the city owns it — meaning the city is not involved in negotiations with the hotel union, said Lloyd Tyler, chief financial officer for the city of Vancouver.”

    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/oct/11/hilton-workers-union-at-loggerheads-employees-say/

    I understand the city is not supposed to be involved in negotiations, but apparently union members last evening feel different. The same article linked above also quotes, “Workers at the Vancouver Hilton need decent wage increases and health care. City council has tried to avoid taking care of this issue for years, claiming they have no responsibility for the hotel,” an email notice read. “Join us in telling city council that the time has come for them to do right by the Hilton hotel workers.”

    If the city has no responsibility, why then is Vancouver’s Chief Financial Officer Lloyd Tyler who is always quoted on financial matters concerning the Hilton and the PFD? And, why are city general funds ever even considered in payments concerning the Hilton?

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  3. Jack, it’s not uncommon for governments to hide behind bureaucratic “shell entities”. They do that because they think it will cover their asses.

    The problem with Vancouver and the Hilton is that the Hilton fits the “duck” test: It walks like a “duck”, it quacks like a “duck”, and the city is still on the hook to pay for the “duck”.

    Slice & dice it any way you want, but what happens with the Hilton still concerns the city and the taxpayers. I think you ought to know that.

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  4. Btw Jack, please tell us why you seem to think that the Hilton hasn’t been a total boondoggle.

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  5. It’s been a scam from the getgo. Let’s remember, it was this SAME city council that voted to sue their own citizens into silence instead of allowing those people to vote on the Pollard Hilton… because, like the CRC, God forbid that you people actually check with your constituency BEFORE you nail them with huge expenses, taxes and fees.

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  6. I never said it didn’t concern the city and the taxpayers. I did describe legally what was set up and the outcome of those decisions.

    I don’t think it’s a total boondoggle, but I do think it was structured with more risk than I would have probably been comfortable. I say probably, because I wasn’t there and don’t have all the details. The intent was great, but I’m not so sure about the financial underpinnings.

    I was there for the evaluation of the previous proposal; the sports arena/convention center. You can read numerous articles on my position. I was not quick to jump on board, wanting a full financial picture documented and understood with assumptions tested. I didn’t oppose the proposal but wanted a full understanding before supporting it. I received considerable press for asking to understand “how bad can bad get” as part of my alternatives analysis – an approach I had used for many years in business life.

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  7. Jack Burkman—for many years in business life.
    JK——-In your business life, did you ever ask about projected expenses, or only income?
    I only ask this because no one, on the council, seemed to ask about the expenses associated with the recent tax abatement – only its income. AND after they projected less net present value of the income stream with the abatement you still voted to give the abatement.
    How well did that sort of analysis work in your business life?

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  8. Yes, the Hilton was a pig-in-a-poke, the worst kind of “public/private partnership,” and Jack Burkman was off-base in his first post, but he did alright by us on the baseball-in-vancouver scam, plus his business experience is sound.

    The downtown shutdown extortion proposed by the union should be the real story here. Hopefully, Jack will hold the line against those kinds of tactics.

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  9. Nice comments Lew. I’ll be looking forward to commenting soon when I have a chance to watch the city council meeting.

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  10. I am trying to tell all of you that the city does not have to get involved in this issue because they have done a great job of the public/private partnership deals. What you do not see is that the future is filled with them if the elections go to the incumbents. The future plans for our city are to expand not only the geographic area by incorporating the urban growth boundary but to add “in-fill” housing accomodations putting fully 15% more homes or actually apartments on the lots than the county health board reccommends. That amounts to another 41,000 living quarters if you can afford to live in them after you pay out for the developers property taxes and add in his “required” rent rates supplemented by our state sales tax dollars. Oh, did I forget to mention that they expect only lower income jobs and are planning for one per household? I guess that means that our homeless rate will be increasing dramatically.

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  11. You know Carolyn, the funny part is to watch these attempts to restrict “sprawl” over many years, and see how they never work.

    Mill Plain around Cascade park is a great example of that. If you had listened to the Cascade park Homeowners Assn. in the 70’s, they were determined that area would never become the absolute “zoo” that it is now.

    The problem that the “Utopians” face is that population growth isn’t going to be “stopped” and America is just too big to “control”.

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