Hotels keep going up:  what does this mean for HTC members?

NYHTC — July 12, 2011

Figures recently released by NYC & Company, the city's official tourism and marketing organization, indicate hotels will continue to open here at a swift pace.

Despite an unprecedented surge of hotel-building in the city from 2008 through 2010, an additional 40 hotels are already scheduled for completion by 2013. That number is in addition to the 32 that opened in 2010 alone and which raised the total number of hotel rooms to approximately 86,230. By the end of this year, that number will grow to almost 90,000, according to NYC & Company figures.

Fifty eight percent of the 40 new hotels will be located in Manhattan, including the newly-opened, 669-room Yotel, the largest hotel to open in the city in a decade. In a significant change, however, new hotels are also opening in the city's four other boroughs as well: Queens and Brooklyn will get 22 percent and 15 percent of them respectively. The remaining five percent will be in the Bronx and Staten Island.

What significance do these numbers have for our union and its members?

The vitality of the NYC hospitality industry is important to HTC members and their families and to the entire state of New York. The numbers collected by NYC & Company show this sector of its economy is strong and growing. The record numbers of tourists the city draws are keeping its hotels busy, even as the number of hotels (and hotel rooms) continues to increase steadily.

That is good news. But these same figures about the skyrocketing number of hotels send another message as well. It is one HTC members need to keep uppermost in their minds as the IWA's June 30, 2012, expiration date nears. Insofar as they are non-union, these hotels threaten their security and the security of their families.

A significant number of these new hotels are (or will be) non-union and determined to remain that way. Every non-union hotel is a direct threat to the continuation of the rights, protections, and benefits generations of our members have fought for and won. The ever-increasing number of them reduces our union's density. As its density declines, so does its power, which reduces its ability to keep negotiating strong contracts.

To counteract this, our union's staff organizers and its rank-and-file organizers are constantly working to organize the workers in these new non-union hotels and bring them into our union. They are extremely successful in doing so but all HTC members have an important role in this work as well.

Union members should promptly inform union staff if they or any of their friends or relatives work in non-union hotels anywhere in New York City. Establishing ongoing contacts with workers in non-union hotels helps the union to keep informed about working conditions in them and to win organizing drives in them. (For obvious reasons, these contacts are confidential and nothing is disclosed to management.) Members should also keep union staff informed about any new hotels they see opening up in their neighborhoods.

For the foreseeable future, new non-union hotels are going to continue to be built and to open. Working together, HTC members and staff can turn these hotels into union hotels and keep our union strong.

NYC & Company. New York City Hotel Industry Experiences Significant Growth in the Boroughs Beyond Manhattan. May 16, 2011.

NYC & Company. New York City Briefing Sheet 2011: Hotel Development in NYC.

Mohn, Tanya. Many New York hotels are opening beyond on Manhattan. New York Times. May 27, 2011.