Peter Ward and the Local 6 Administration Are Re-Elected

Hotel Voice — September 30, 2015

Local 6 Business Manager Peter Ward and the Local 6 administration were re-elected to office by acclamation at a Delegate Assembly meeting on September 15. Ward and his team will serve a three-year term in office.

The Delegate Assembly meeting was open to all members of Local 6 for the nominations of officers. An enthusiastic crowd of Local 6 members attended. Overseeing the nominations and election process was the Local 6 Election Committee, consisting of its Chairperson, Dorian Ross, and Anwar Ahmed, Dimitrios Theofanis, Julio Rivera and Gershon Resnick, all of whom are Local 6 members in good standing. Representatives from Global Election Services were also present to observe the nominations process.

Ross welcomed members to the nominations portion of the meeting and explained the rules and procedures of the nominations process. He then opened the floor for nominations.

The administration’s team, called the Local 6 Unity slate, was nominated by Jim Donovan, the President of Local 6. His remarks were loudly cheered by the many members who were present.

Donovan began his nomination of the administration’s slate by noting that this year is the 30th anniversary of the 1985 city-wide hotel strike, saying that back then the hotel industry in New York was trying to take advantage of the new anti-union atmosphere that had begun to sweep the U.S. that year. The trend has continued up to today, in virtually all industries, leading to busted unions and bad contracts, Donovan said.

“Shockingly, even the right of workers to have a union is being challenged successfully in states where unions were once strong,” Donovan said. “Just yesterday, that pandering, boot-licking presidential candidate, Scott Walker announced a set of proposals designed to wipe out the remaining power of unions in the United States.”

Donovan pointed out that as unions have weakened, the standard of living of workers in general has declined. “Now,” he said, “few working people have pensions, or free family healthcare. Workers’ wages have been stagnant. The working middle class has been disappearing.”

As the crowd in the auditorium listened with rapt attention, Donovan explained why things have been different at Local 6.

Donovan said: “Under the leadership of Peter Ward, our union has actually grown in size and power, and our contracts have improved enormously. When I look back on these years, I am amazed at how much our union has changed for the better. Our two master agreements in New York City, the IWA and the Division A agreement, are the best union contracts for hotel workers in the world.”

The crowd in the auditorium readily agreed, loudly applauding Donovan’s observations.

“We have completely renovated those two contracts since 2006, with many new and much stronger rights and protections for workers that are unheard of in other union contracts,” Donovan continued. “Our members now enjoy the best protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, the best health and safety rights, the best protections against abusive treatment by managers and hotel guests, the best protections for immigrant workers, the best protections against spotters, and the best protections against employer theft of wages and tips.”

The cheering grew louder.

Members cheering the nomination of Peter Ward and the Local 6 Unity slate.

Donovan added that the union’s success has expanded outside the borders of New York City, saying the union has established the Greater Regional Industry-Wide Agreement, a new master contract for hotels in Northern New Jersey, Westchester, and the Capital District of New York State. “This agreement has raised the standard for thousands of hotel workers outside New York City, totally improving their wages, benefits, and rights on the job,” he said.

Donovan also addressed the huge political power amassed by the union during Ward’s tenure.

“Our new political power also made it possible to defeat the efforts of the real estate interests to rezone Midtown east without special permits for hotels, and to protect the jobs of countless members against the threat of condo conversions, with the passage of the Hotel Preservation Act.”

In nominating Ward and the Local 6 Unity slate Donovan did not just look back at a stunning list of accomplishments achieved in the past. He also looked ahead.

“While we recognize our successes, we face grave threats in the form of hundreds of new non-union hotels sprouting up throughout the City, reducing our union density, and undermining the standards we have fought to establish,” he said. “Our union is responding to this threat with determination and energy. We are building a bigger organizing department. We are mobilizing our members on a huge scale to help the union obtain card check neutrality agreements to unionize these shops and to fight for first contracts. In the last two months, we successfully organized four non-union hotels without card check neutrality agreements, through bottom-up organizing drives and against aggressive anti-union campaigns by management.”

Donovan concluded his nomination by expressing the firm belief that Local 6, which is by far the largest local union in the New York Hotel Trades Council, has much to be proud of.

“I believe we have the most active and knowledgeable union members in the country,” he said. “Our officers and staff are dedicated, talented, and hard-working. And in my opinion we have the best leader in the labor movement. Thanks to his skill, every city-wide contract negotiation for which he has been responsible turned out to be an impressive union victory. Just consider the incredible fact that today the large majority of our members are able to go to sleep at night knowing that their wages, benefits and rights at work will be secure, by contract, until the year 2026. Only the leader of our union would have had the audacity to propose such a thing, much less to accomplish it! Brothers and sisters, it is with immense pride that I nominate, at the top of the Local 6 Unity slate, for the position of Business Manager, my friend and my hero, Peter Ward!”

It was an impressive nomination speech for an impressive labor leader.

Donovan then nominated the rest of the Local 6 Unity slate. Dorian Ross asked if there were any additional slate nominations, but there were not. Then, position by position, Ross asked if there are any individual nominations for office. Again, there were not. Ross explained that the rules call for unopposed nominees to be elected to office by acclamation and he asked Ralph Gershak of Global Election Services to cast a “white ballot” symbolic of the election of Ward and all the other members of the Local 6 Unity slate. It should be noted that the eligibility of all those elected on September 16 was examined the next day by the Local 6 Election Committee and Global Election Services.

The number of Executive Board Members and Delegate Assembly Members are determined by a count of Local 6’s membership. Because of an increase in that membership in the last three years there are 22 Executive Board Members and 111 Delegate Assembly Members. They join reelected officers in the Union’s administration such as Business Manager Ward, President Donovan, Secretary-Treasurer Vanessa Meade, Executive Vice President Richard Maroko and Vice Presidents Edward Cedeno, Hazel Hazzard, George Padilla and Rolando Ruiz. The names of the members of the entire Local 6 administration elected September 15 are published in the edition of the Hotel Voice magazine being mailed to all members next week.