updated 10/26/2004 6:37:16 PM ET 2004-10-26T22:37:16

Faced with an ultimatum from the mayor, 14 San Francisco hotels refused Tuesday to end their four-week lockout of unionized employees.

“We respectfully decline the mayor’s request for a 90-day cooling-off period,” said Cornell Fowler, a spokesman for the hotel operators.

Mayor Gavin Newsom on Monday threatened to call for a boycott of the hotels if they did not agree to allow the 4,000 bellhops, maids, cooks and other workers to return to their jobs while contract talks continue.

Warning that the dispute was tarnishing the city’s image and hurting its workers, Newsom said he would join the hotel workers on the picket lines and encourage mayors in other cities to play hardball with the properties’ corporate owners.

A spokesman said the mayor would make good on his threat by showing up at the posh St. Francis Hotel on Tuesday afternoon.

The workers went on strike at four hotels on Sept. 29 and were locked out at 10 others two days later. They agreed to end their strike last Wednesday, but the 14 hotels said the lockout would continue until a new contract was reached.

“We recognize how serious the mayor is about this issue and we’re considering his request,” said the group’s spokeswoman, Barbara French, earlier Tuesday. “The interest of the hotels is to reach agreement and to reach an agreement that addresses the issues and provides what they think is the most secure avenue for a solution.”

Impasse over wages, benefits
Contract talks between the two sides broke down last month over wages, employee health care costs and the main sticking point — the length of the new contract.

The employers are seeking a five-year contract, but to gain leverage against the corporations that own and run many major hotels, the union wants a two-year contract that expires in 2006, when its counterparts in New York, Chicago, Boston and other major cities will renegotiate their labor pacts.

The 14 hotels account for about a quarter of San Francisco’s 32,500 hotel rooms, and include such luxurious properties as the Westin St. Francis, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins and the Fairmont.

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