The Deadline for the Union’s 2020 Writing Contest Has Been Extended

We had a first in last year’s writing contest. Although siblings had won in separate years in the past, 2019 was the first time siblings won in the same year. Here, brothers Omar and Din Kastrat accept their prizes from Local 6 Business Agent Nick Ruiz. Also present is Omar and Din’s mom, Amela Kastrat.

June 11, 2020 4:06PM

The 2020 writing contest for high school students is underway, and due to the COVID-19 crisis the deadline for submitting entries has been extended to Wednesday, July 15. In addition, a new essay topic has been added: How COVID-19 Has Changed Our Lives.

As a reminder, the annual competition is open to all children and eligible dependents of Hotel Trades Council and Local 6 members who are or were in grades 10, 11 or 12 in February of this year (2020). Cash prizes will be awarded to as many as a dozen students, including a top prize of $3,000. Some of the winning entries — or excerpts from them — may be published in the Hotel Voice magazine and on both the union's website and the website. In the history of the contest almost $200,000 in cash prizes have been awarded.

This year's writing contest is offering cash awards in two categories, Essay and Fiction/Non-fiction Narrative. Students may submit entries in either or both categories in the competition, and each category must have submissions from a minimum of ten students in order for the prize money to be distributed.

Multiple prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 will be awarded in each of the two categories, along with the top prize of $3,000 for "Best Overall Entry.".

When this annual competition began 18 years ago, the prize money was provided by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. In recent years Donald Rubin's daughter, Laurel Rubin, has provided the funding for the contest through the foundation. Laurel Rubin is the granddaughter of Jay Rubin, the founder and first president of the Hotel Trades Council.

“I am very pleased to continue sponsoring this competition that taps into the intelligence and creativity of high school students who are children of Hotel Trades Council and Local 6 members," Ms. Rubin said. “My father and I strongly believe in the union movement and its members. We hope that this competition serves as a good way to remember my grandfather’s own dedication to organized labor and his decades of service to HTC and Local 6.”

Here are the 2019 Writing Contest winners. Seated, from left to right, are Rebekah Mirang, Priscilla Assifuah, Amira Shimin, Lhakpa Sherpa, and Eishika Ahmed. Top row: HTC Assistant Director of Organizing Arisha Sierra-Blas, Timothy Nguyen, Former Executive Director of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation Evelyn Jones Rich, Alexander Thaniotis and HTC Director of Organizing Julia Rybak. Missing from this photo are Din Kastrat and Omar Kastrat, who were away at school but came in earlier to collect their prize money. Students in grades 10, 11 and 12 have until the July 15 deadline to enter this year's contest.

It is easy for students to enter the contest. All entries must be emailed to or mailed to Writing Contest, c/o Hotel Voice, 709 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10036, and MUST include the following information:

• Student's name and home address

• Name of the student's parent

• Parent's shop of employment

• Student and/or parent's cell phone number

• Student's email address

• Student's high school and year (10, 11, or 12)

Once again, students may submit entries in either or both categories in the competition. Here is an explanation of the two categories:

Essay. Essays should be three to five pages (double spaced) in length and MUST be written about one of the following topics:

1. How COVID-19 Has Changed Our Lives.

2. Why My Parents’ Union Membership Is Important to Me.

3. A Modern Day Hero.

4. My Choice for U.S. President in 2020.

5. The Supreme Court: Judicial or Political?

6. Public Safety vs. the Second Amendment.

7. Global Warming: Fact or Hoax?

Fiction/Non-fiction Narrative. Entries in this category MUST be identified as either fiction or non-fiction! Submissions must be a narrative, three to five pages (double spaced) in length, and can be told in either the first or third person. Entries may cover any topic of the student’s choosing. The following are some suggested ideas for potential narratives. These are only suggested ideas. They do not have to be the subject of the fiction/non-fiction narrative.

  • Why Unions Matter.
  • What I Know Now that I Didn’t Know a Year Ago.
  • My Personal Experience with Immigration.

All entries must be submitted by no later than the extended deadline date of Wednesday, July 15. All entries should be emailed to or mailed to:

Writing Contest
c/o Hotel Voice
709 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10036