Omni to offer DP benefits at Convention Center hotel

Posted on 25 Jun 2009 at 6:02pm
By John Wright News Editor

Irving-based company also joins North Texas GLBT Chamber


Tony Vedda

Omni Hotels has agreed to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees at Dallas’ city-owned Convention Center Hotel, representatives from the city and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced this week.

Irving-based Omni Hotels has also joined the North Texas GLBT Chamber as a Silver Level corporate member, the chamber said. A representative from Omni Hotels couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The question of whether Omni Hotels would offer DP benefits to Convention Center hotel employees was raised by Dallas Voice two months ago.

Irving-based Omni Hotels, which signed an operating agreement for the $500 million facility in February, currently offers DP benefits to employees at properties where it’s required by law, such as in California. However, Omni is one of the few major lodging chains that doesn’t offer DP benefits nationwide.

The city of Dallas, which will build and own the Convention Center hotel, has offered DP benefits to its employees since 2004.

In response to inquiries from Dallas Voice in late April, Mayor Tom Leppert and other city councilmembers — including Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt and Dave Neumann — vowed to try to persuade Omni Hotels to offer DP benefits in Dallas.

"The city offers domestic benefits to its employees, and the hotel is a city-owned facility, and so after some discussion I think Omni felt that it was appropriate and agreed to do it,’ Chris Heinbaugh, Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, said Thursday, June 25. "My sense was there wasn’t any great objection. Clearly they do it in other cities. We don’t require it per se, but I think the mayor and councilmembers made it clear they felt it was important for a city-owned facility to be extending those types of benefits."

The commitment from Omni Hotels to offer DP benefits in Dallas came after a series of meetings involving the company, the city and Tony Vedda, president and CEO of the North Texas GLBT Chamber.

The Chamber initially endorsed the Convention Center hotel last year and reiterated its support earlier this year by opposing Proposition 1, which would have barred the city from building and owning the facility.

Vedda said he looks forward to working with Omni Hotels on other LGBT-related issues, such as supplier diversity and offering DP benefits at the company’s other properties in North Texas. He said Omni’s Silver Level membership represents a $5,000 contribution to the chamber annually.

"We’re happy to have a positive outcome," Vedda said Thursday. "One of the things that we promoted as part of our endorsement of the Convention Center hotel is that it’s good for the community, because it creates jobs. Creating jobs for the community is great, but the next step is making sure that the people who have those jobs have the benefits."

The Convention Center hotel, scheduled to open in 2012, will have an estimated 800 permanent employees.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 26, 2009.

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