Members Vote Overwhelmingly for Dues Increase

NYHTC — August 01, 2014

On Thursday, July 24 HTC members voted, by an overwhelming majority to approve an increase in union dues.

More than 6,500 members voted at seven different locations to approve this dues increase. In the final count, 89.9 percent of those who voted approved the dues increase—a remarkable demonstration of the memberships’ commitment to keep the union strong and to organize the non-union hotel industry.

Throughout the day, members showed up in a steady stream to vote. As early as 5:50 a.m., more than an hour before the voting even started, Yaniret Vergara, an employee of the Regency Hotel, and Bernard Soanes, who works at the Sheraton New York, waited outside the union hall, the Manhattan polling site. “This is an important vote for all of us,” Bernard said. “I am here to show support for the union.”

Yaniret agreed, and throughout the day many other members did the same.

“I used to work at the George Washington Hotel and I remember how helpful the union was in 1987 when there were efforts to stop the property from being a hotel,” said Barbara Collins, an employee of the Waldorf-Astoria. “I have faith in this union!”

“There is no question the Union has been good to us, so we need to do this,” said Sheraton New York employee John Paul Chediak. “Of course, I’m voting ‘yes,’” said New York Hilton Midtown employee Santo Alcivar. “It’s the same thing as voting ‘yes’ for the union itself!”

Carlos Londono, a member of the union for 33 years, had similar sentiments. “Everyone needs to contribute so the union can keep pace with the changing times in the hotel industry,” said Londono, an employee of the Sheraton New York. “I am glad to see so many members coming out today to show support for the union by voting ‘yes.’”

Even at 4:30 when the line stretched halfway down the block on West 44th Street, members were able to complete the voting process in 10 minutes or less, thanks to a voting-database-check-in system developed by the union’s IT department. Members voting at any of the other six poling locations, in Albany, Saratoga, Monticello, Newark, Westchester, and Resorts World Casino in Queens, also completed the voting process quickly.

After voting at union head quarters, many members stopped by the Contract Distribution Booth to pick up a copy of the consolidated 2012 Industry Wide Agreement, went to update personal information with the Benefit Funds and got union picture ID photos taken.

The counting of the votes took place immediately following the polls closing at 7pm. Voting results from the other six locations were phoned in to the union hall, and when all ballots were counted a total of 5,959 members voted “yes” for the dues increase and 677 voted “no.”

Hotel Trades Council President Peter Ward made some brief remarks about the outcome of the referendum. “Our members said today that they ‘understand that our union has a plan to combat the serious threats facing our industry and we support that plan,’” Ward said. “I assure you we will not let them down.”

The increase in dues, approved by the membership this week, will enable the union to take on and organize the growing non-union industry and to continue to grow the union’s political power.

The referendum results are perhaps best summed up by a member we cannot identify. It was a secret ballot vote, of course, but one member chose to add something besides his or her check mark in the “Yes” box. The member wrote on the unsigned ballot, “I am 72 years old and everything I have I owe to the union!” Apparently, 89.9% of those who voted on July 24 wholeheartedly agree.

Peter Ward, union officers, staff members and volunteers stand behind the vote count. The left pile of ballots has the “yes” votes. The right stack of ballots has the “no” votes. Members approved the dues referendum by a vote of 5,959 to 677.

Abde Ali, Chatwal Hotel, expresses his opinion on the referendum.

Members from the Hilton Meadowlands and Holiday Inn Newark turned out to vote.

Members voting at Resorts World.

Members gathering on West 44th Street to vote.