Bellevue's Fate Rests With Courts

Posted: January 31, 1986

Union workers at the Bellevue Stratford got moral support from a sympathetic City Council yesterday in their fight to keep the landmark hotel open.

But the final determination on whether the Bellevue remains open past the scheduled closing on Sunday was expected to come from the courts today.

Local 274 of the Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union has petitioned both federal and Common Pleas courts for injunctions that would force the hotel to keep operating.

The union contends the hotel has not complied with a 1982 city law requiring a 60-day written notice of a closing and that it will be violating several provisions of its labor agreement if it ceases operations before the contract expires in 1987.

U.S. District Court Judge James McGirr Kelly heard arguments on the latter contention yesterday morning but delayed issuing a ruling.

A Common Pleas judge was to decide whether the Bellevue is subject to the city's closing ordinance after arguments today.

Both rulings were expected today since both courts have granted emergency hearings.

The union had no trouble convincing City Council members yesterday that the closing of the Bellevue would cause serious harm to its nearly 400 members there as well as to the city at large.

About 100 hotel workers plus about 50 supporters of another institution in danger of closing, Roman Catholic High School, packed the Council chambers.

The Bellevue closing would be a "monumental disaster," said Councilman Brian O'Neill.

"The Bellevue Stratford is as much a part of Philadelphia . . . as Independence Hall," said Councilman Angel Ortiz.

Council members criticized Mayor Goode for not getting more involved with the problem as he did when the Eagles threatened to leave the city.

Council then unanimously passed a resolution directing President Joseph Coleman to do everything possible to keep the hotel and the school open.

Coleman said later he was "not sure at this time" what he could do about the Bellevue.

"Anything I do certainly will be in concert with the mayor and the administration," he said.

Goode, asked about the Council criticism, said other city officials, including Commerce Director Dave Brenner and Joseph Egan, who heads the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., had, in fact, been working on the problem for about 10 days.

Egan is to meet again with Rubin Associates, which co-owns the Bellevue with the Westin Hotel chain, tomorrow to discuss how the city could help keep the hotel open, according to a Rubin spokeswoman.

"If there is a practical way to save the Bellevue, we will save it," Goode said.

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