- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2004

Washington’s unionized hotel workers are preparing for formal contract negotiations to begin this month with the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C. The current three-year contract, which represents about 5,000 union hotel employees, expires Sept. 15.

Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25 and its members will be negotiating to improve health care and retirement benefits, and to address workload and health and safety issues.

Union officials say the District’s hotel occupancy and room rates have returned to the levels before the September 11 terrorist attacks, but the hotels have not rehired staff. As a result, the workloads and stress levels have risen for employees.

“Hotel workers, housekeepers, dishwashers, servers and others are working harder than they ever have,” said John Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of Local 25. “The negotiations this fall will be about those workers enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

About 1,000 hotel workers gathered on June 24 at Dupont Circle and marched to Farragut Square to show a unified front.

Formal negotiations begin in mid-July with the local hotel association, which has more than 80 member hotels, including 17 union hotels. Another eight union hotels are not part of the association.

In other news …

• Portions of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be closed through October because of a $1 million replacement of the memorial’s 19-year-old lighting system. The East Wall closed June 11 and will remain closed through mid-August. When it reopens, the West Wall will close and be under construction through October.

• Two-thirds of consumers are using the Internet to make travel plans, according to the latest report by the Conference Board, a private New York economic research firm,and TNS NFO, which provides market information. However, more consumers are researching online rather than booking online. Security concerns continue to prevent a majority of online users from purchasing products and services online, the report said.

Retail rummage

• Carvel Corp., which has three stores in the Washington-Baltimore area, plans to expand to 35 stores locally within the next three years. The ice-cream chain has signed franchise agreements for five stores in Virginia and four stores in Maryland. In addition, a store in Gaithersburg is set to open later this summer.

• Greenberg Commercial, an Owings Mills, Md., developer, has started construction of the third phase of Burwood Village Center, a 116,000-square-foot retail center at the intersection of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and Furnace Branch Road in Anne Arundel County. The new section, expected to be completed this fall, will feature 15,300 square feet of retail space. It is 65 percent leased.

• Zyng Asian Grill, a restaurant that specializes in noodle dishes from across Asia, has signed a lease for 3,149 square feet of space at the Broadway, an 80-unit residential condominium building in Falls Church. The restaurant is set to open at the end of the year.

• A 33,800-square-foot Circuit City, with about 60 employees, opened in Landover at the end of June.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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