ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Kahler Hotel Group brought in a new management company at the stroke of midnight Thursday to operate its five top-line downtown Rochester hotels, and the first order of business is deciding whether to keep some 150 employees in their jobs.
Richfield Hospitality of suburban Denver, Colorado, has taken over the day-to-day operations of the Kahler Grand, the International Hotel, the downtown Rochester Marriott Mayo Clinic, the Kahler Inn and Suites, and the Residence Inn by Marriott Rochester Mayo Clinic Area. The firm replaces Interstate Hotels & Resorts, which has been running the properties for nearly ten years.
Kahler Hotel Group chairman Javon Bea estimates that 550 employees are affected by the change in management. The contract with UNITE HERE Local 21 AFL-CIO through August 31, 2014, will be honored; it covers work conditions for cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, banquet staff and a host of other positions. It also covers those working at the group's commercial laundry operation in Rochester.
Bea said Richfield Hospitality is currently interviewing about 150 non-union employees and will decide who it will retain for the jobs kept going forward.
Local 21 President and Business Representative Brian Brandt tells KTTC NewsCenter that so far, the only significant change for the 400 employees covered by the union contract will be the health care coverage.
"Dealings with them have been amicable," said Brandt. "They're keeping all of our people, honoring the current contract. The only real change is a different medical plan; Interstate had options and coverage levels, Richfield Hospitality has a 'one size fits all' health care coverage."
Brandt said the old plan featured 90/10 coverage, while the new one is 80/20, but that "the deductibles aren't too bad."
The Local 21 business rep notes that of the 400 employees impacted by the management change, half of them actually work for Textile Care Services, the commercial laundry operation located at 225 35th Street SE in Rochester. Textile Care Services boasts that it is "one of the most modern commercial laundries in the world and is the only HLAC certified rental laundry in Minnesota." It handles laundry from hospitals, nursing homes and presumably a number of hotels in Rochester. TCS estimates that it handles 30-million pounds of laundry a year.
"Richfield knows Minnesota, as it has managed Embassy Suites in Bloomington and Millennium in Minneapolis," noted Bea. "The ownership chose Richfield for three reasons; one, a strong track record for guest service excellence, two, a commitment to ongoing engagement and involvement at the local level, and third, flexibility--willing to accommodate the unique specialized needs of our hotels serving the Mayo patients."
"This is a great portfolio of hotels," said Greg Mount, president of Richfield Hospitality, in a statement to reporters. "To provide the special service that guests require, especially when including health care related issues. This portfolio also can leverage economies of scale to operate at a highly efficient level, while encompassing luxury to extended stay hotel categories."
As of Friday, Richfield Hospitality is now running Rochester's premier hotels, linked by skyways and underground walkways to Mayo Clinic's downtown campus.
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