This Week's Hotel Voice


Hilton Albany Boycott Wins Support

Hotel Voice - October 31, 2017 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Hilton Albany picket line is a lively place.

The Hotel Trades Council and its members employed at the Hilton Albany are in a fight against the hotel’s owner to obtain a fair contract. The public is being asked to boycott the hotel, where there is a daily picket line.

The battle has drawn the attention of numerous elected officials, many of whom have expressed support for the boycott. The union has set up a website that details the reasons for the boycott and it contains the long list of supporting organizations and elected leaders who have signed on to the boycott. To date, 29 New York State Senators and 72 State Assembly Members have signed on. More than 30 other elected officials and more than 35 organizations have registered their support as well. Members may visit boycotthiltonalbany.com for a list and for other information on the boycott.

Hilton Albany workers and HTC Organizer Juana Velez rallying on the picket line.

Many elected officials have visited the picket line. In one case, State Senator and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins came by with pizzas for the picketers. She offered support on behalf of the entire Democratic Conference and led chants of “No contract! No peace!”

State Senator and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins bringing her support—and pizzas! —to the picket line.

“The reality is that you work hard for the money,” Stewart Cousins told those on the picket line. “You deserve to not have to give back benefits, to not have to compromise on your healthcare. Unions matter because we are how the middle class gets paid.“

As in any labor dispute, the hotel will suffer increasing declines in business as news of the boycott spreads. And the news is spreading. The boycott has received extensive media coverage in the Albany area.

Members from the Hilton Albany stand strong on the picket line.

The contract between the Hilton Albany and its employees expired in April, and the employees are trying to reach a fair extension. The hotel has responded by making demands that amount to givebacks and would take a severe economic toll on its workforce.

The Hilton Albany has demanded complete elimination of its employees’ pension plan. It has rejected both its employees’ request for protections against various types of discrimination and for the elimination of its rule that explicitly states a preference for English in the workplace.

That’s not all. The hotel is insisting on slashing wage increases and is demanding that the most senior employees give back a week of vacation. Incredibly, the hotel has also demanded a reduction in the number of paid days off that employees may take to grieve the death of a family member.

It is the harsh Hilton Albany demands like these that have led the hotel’s employees to make the difficult decision to call for a boycott of their own workplace. And while the boycott has had success, it is also possible that a strike may become necessary.

HTC members and staff rally in front of the Hilton Albany hotel.

At a well-attended rally held in the New York State capital in support of the Hilton Albany workers’ efforts to obtain a fair contract, a number of public officials spoke out, including the city’s mayor, Kathy Sheehan. “This is the capital of the capital of the world,” Mayor Sheehan said. “We respect unions and we support working families here!”

“Anyone who knows us knows we are never going to go away,” HTC President Peter Ward said. “We will not give up this fight until we have a fair deal. I salute our members at the Hilton Albany for standing up for their rights and I thank all the elected officials, labor groups and community organizations that have expressed their support for the boycott. It all comes down to one simple fact: We are not going to end this fight until we have a fair agreement.”

As this edition of the Hotel Voice magazine was about to be printed, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration had directed New York state agencies and personnel to refrain from booking rooms and events at the Albany Hilton until the hotel reaches a fair agreement with the union.

Park Lane Room Attendant Martha Nunez gets loud on the Hilton Albany picket line.