Unions strike New York hotels; guests make do

Tourists, business people, and residents at some of New York's poshest hotels were without room service over the weekend, as 14,000 hotel workers went on strike. No new talks were foreseen, as of Sunday noon, between the nine-union Hotel and Motel Trades Council and the Hotel Association of New York.

Arrests of at least 10 strikers were reported Saturday, the first day of the strike and the first in the unions' 46-year history. Guests at 47 city hotels are carrying their own luggage and eating outside, since many hotel restaurants are closed. Some hotel guests walk to the lobby from down the block because many cab drivers are honoring picket lines.

``It is a bother,'' one man said as he ushered his two sons into the Harley Of New York on East 42nd Street.

At issue in the strike, which comes at the beginning of the heavy tourist season, are wage increases and contract changes, such as job-assignment switches and probation periods for new employees.

Right now, the strike is more an annoyance than a crisis to the hotel business in New York, which has enjoyed flush times. But if the dispute continues, it could mean trouble for the city's $2 billion-a-year tourist industry. Some industry analysts note hotel business could be flat in the future anyway because many hotel rooms have been added in new construction.

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