OCA Denies Pittsburgh Hilton Trouble
On Friday July 18th OCA.org posted an article denying troubles at the Hilton Hotel in Pittsburgh would interfere with the All American Council in November, 2008. The OCA release stated: “In a recent communication from the Hilton Hotel, Fr. Myron (Manzuk) learned ....most of the problems reported were issues that the hotel had addressed sometime ago. ..Spokespersons for the hotel’s owners said that they did not foresee past financial struggles hindering the completion of planned renovations nor did they anticipate any disruption to the regular business operations at the hotel.”
The denial was prompted by newspaper and television reports such as the following from Pittsburgh station KDKA which ran this report on Thursday, July 17th:
“Union leaders representing hundreds of employees say the Hilton Hotel is in crisis. The hotel, bought out by the Shubh Hotels, a Pakistani group out of Florida, has been under renovation for nearly two years.
Tonight, the contractors have pulled out and taken their men and equipment. Many of them have sued the hotel owners and filed more than $1 million in liens against the property.
According to union representatives, the hotel is behind by more than $1 million in payments to the health and pension funds of employees. And union leaders are worried there will be no money to pay the employees Friday morning - pay day.
The hotel in Pittsburgh is not owned by the Hilton corporation. KDKA’s Marty Griffin placed numerous calls to the new owners and was told they are out of the country and unavailable for comment. Griffin spoke to the hotel general manager. He admits they are having a funding problem right now and admits they have not paid certain employee benefits or certain contractors. He says they are working hard to resolve the problem.“
On Friday, July 18th KDKA reported:
“Employees of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh are now expected to get their paychecks after threatening to walk off the job over alleged money issues....the hotel ownership group say employees will now be getting their paychecks this morning.
Also, they say they are in touch with contractors to work out those payment issues with the plans to resume renovation work in about three weeks and wrap up next spring.... Officials say the renovation work is taking longer than expected, leaving rooms empty, unable to take in guests and that is causing the financial trouble.”
The same day the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported:
“Mr. Tim Zugger (general manager of the hotel) said that while the hotel does owe the contractor money, the work delay is because of a change in the architectural plans for the building, and that the contractor is awaiting new fabricated steel.
Renovations have been going on for nearly two years at the hotel and are expected to be completed by winter.”
It remains unclear how the Hilton could tell the OCA the problems were related to “past financial struggles” while admitting to KDKA they were "in touch with contractors to work out payment issues” such that they could only “resume renovation work in about three weeks”. At the very same time the Hilton was telling the local newspaper that the delays were not the result of financial problems, but a “change in the architectural plans for the building” and that the contractor is “awaiting of new fabricated steel.”
There is a steel shortage in Steel City?
Equally unclear is the discrepency between the Hilton’s telling the OCA they did not “anticipate in disruptions to the regular business operations at the hotel”; while stating to the Pittsburgh Post that the major renovations, now delayed, are “expected to be completed by winter”; even while telling the local television the same work would only “wrap up next Spring (2009)”.
In all events the OCA is headed there in November 2008 - assuming the hotel is still in operation. The possibility of bankruptcy loomed larger, despite all denials, as station KDKA reported Saturday, July 19th, that “(Hotel COO) Mathis admitted this morning that there is not enough money to finish the project along with paying off contractors and paying employee benefits.”
- Mark Stokoe