Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Starwood’

Going Gaga Over Workers’ Rights

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Credit: Joe Kekeris

Credit: Joe Kekeris

Lady Gaga recently made an unexpected appearance at the Westin Saint Francis hotel in San Francisco—in the form of a flash mob singing a pro-worker version of lyrics to her “Bad Romance.” Replete with tuba, trombone, snare drum and a couple dozen dancing activists, the group materialized in the hotel’s lobby to denounce the chain’s poor treatment of its employees and urge people to “Boycott, boycott,” this “bad, bad hotel.”

Sponsored by the San Francisco chapter of Pride At Work, an AFL-CIO constituency group for LGBTQ workers, the action demonstrated support for the more than 9,000 workers in the area who have been working without a contract since August 2009 at several Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental Hotels (the Westin is owned by Starwood). The activists created the song and dance routine to tell the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people from across the country coming to San Francisco in June for Pride Week to honor the worker-called boycott.

After repeated attempts at negotiations, hotel management is trying to deny the workers, members of UNITEHERE! Local 2, affordable, quality health care. As San Francisco Pride At Work notes:

This is despite soaring profits at these multinational corporations. The Starwood Corporation made $180 million in profit in the first nine months of 2009. The Hyatt Corporation generated $950 million for its majority owner—the Pritzker family, and Hilton Hotels recently announced that they have $12.6 billion in available capital to invest in new high-asset ventures over the next several years.

The musical show of solidarity didn’t stop at the Westin. The group snake-danced their way out of the lobby and went on to perform the same skit at the Grand Hyatt down the block.

After all:

Boycott, boycott!

Workers’ rights are hot!

*This post originally appeared in AFL-CIO Blog on May 7, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (they were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

Hotel Workers, Trumka Arrested at Sit-In for Fair Contract

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Image: Mike HallMore than 100 union members, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm were arrested at a sit-in demanding justice and a fair contract for San Francisco hotel workers last night. The workers have been without a contract since August.

The sit-in in front of the Hilton San Francisco followed a march by nearly 1,000 members of UNITEHERE! Local 2, other union members and community and political supporters. Says Ingrid Carp, a cook for 29 years at the Hilton:

“We’re determined as ever to win a good contract. It’s wrong for corporations to position themselves to make billions with the coming economic recovery, and expect us to go backward.”

UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm (left) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were among the 140 arrested at a San Francisco hotel sit-in for justice.

UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm (left) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were among the 140 arrested at a San Francisco hotel sit-in for justice.

At the rally before the march, Trumka told crowd:

“A job is a good job because working people fight to make it one. It doesn’t matter if the job is in a coal mine or a hotel, a classroom or a car wash.

“That’s why the struggle of hotel workers here in San Francisco and across our country is so important.  If we don’t protect the wages and benefits and health care of hotel workers no job is safe, no worker is safe no family is safe.”

Tomorrow, Trumka will join workers for a rally and picket in front of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Along with the demand for justice for hotel workers, Trumka is in California this week to spotlight the need for job creation. We’ll have more on that later today.

The action is part of a campaign to win fair contracts at several national hotel chains, including Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood. The profitable chains are using the recession as an excuse to demand health care benefit cuts in contract talks with more than 16,000 workers at dozens of hotels in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.

*This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on January 6, 2010. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.

Your Rights Job Survival The Issues Features Resources About This Blog