Peter Ward Retires and Rich Maroko Named to Succeed Him

August 12, 2020 11:34 AM

After 41 years of distinguished service, HTC President and Local 6 Business Manager Peter Ward announced he was stepping down from both his Union offices to begin his retirement. On August 12, Mr. Ward and all of the General Officers enthusiastically recommended that the HTC and Local 6 Executive Boards, and Local 6 Delegate Assembly vote to appoint Richard Maroko, the Union’s chief negotiator, HTC Recording Secretary and General Counsel, and Local 6 Executive Vice President to succeed him as the leader of HTC and Local 6. That recommendation was wholeheartedly moved, seconded and enacted unanimously by all three governing bodies, as prescribed in the by-laws of both HTC and Local 6.

The immediacy of Peter’s resignation was a surprise, but not the fact that he would be retiring soon. Many of the members of those bodies knew, from years of receiving detailed reports from Mr. Ward, the burden of his duties and could imagine his personal sacrifices. Longtime members will probably remember that in 2006, Peter was diagnosed with cancer. During the memorable city-wide contract fight that year, at the same time that Peter was performing a masterful job in contentious marathon public negotiations, he was also undergoing very tough radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He won both the contract fight and that battle with cancer, but the latter took an extreme toll on him.

For years, Peter has been wanting to retire and has been preparing our Union's team of officers for that day. There is no one with whom Peter has worked more closely or whose duties are more equivalent to Peter’s than Rich Maroko. Peter has steadily and increasingly relied on Rich to shoulder the burden of Peter's job, to the point that he has absolute confidence in Rich’s ability to perform them as well as Peter himself.

Peter explained to the officers assembled in online meetings that he believed this current crisis was paradoxically the ideal moment for him to pass the baton. He said that Rich had played a pivotal role in almost every major initiative of the Union for more than a decade and it has been Rich who has played the key role in winning the arbitration against the industry that extended our members' health insurance for four months (six months for the GRIWA shops), spearheading legislation that required hotels to keep housekeeping and front desk employees safe and working, and also in envisioning and negotiating the "Coronavirus Protocol Agreement" that protects our members’ health and safety as hotels reopen. Peter credited these vitally important victories to the fact that Rich has been working longer and more intense hours than anyone else in our Union. In other words, Peter said, Rich is uniquely the person who has the vigor, experience and talent to take charge of the Union now.

Jim Donovan, Local 6 President and HTC General Organizer, commented, “When Peter and I have talked about retiring, it was obvious to both of us that no one could possibly do a better job leading our Union into the future than Rich Maroko.”

Vanessa Meade, Local 6 Secretary Treasurer and HTC Vice President, said, “Rich is not only a great negotiator and one of the best labor lawyers anywhere, we totally trust him to lead us. Our staff, our officers and our members will be able to sleep better knowing that Rich is the one who will be filling Peter’s big shoes, especially in this crisis.”

Peter summed up how he felt about turning over his duties to Rich Maroko, “I’ve given my life to the Hotel Trades Council and Local 6. So, it is hard to express the emotional and moral relief I feel knowing that I am handing over the stewardship of both our Unions, and the well-being of our members to such an energetic, tough, honest, dedicated, sharp, strong leader.”

Rich thanked Peter for his unparalleled contribution to the Union, saying, “Every member of ours since 1995 when you became the President of HTC knows what you have contributed to this Union and to their lives. You took over a powerful shop-based industrial union and turned it into the union it is today — one that is politically powerful, that has expanded into multiple industries and regions and has the best contract in the world for the people that do our work.” Rich then said, “I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this position. And I am grateful for your confidence in me during these difficult times. I have no doubt that, thanks to the power of our Union, the dedication of our officers, and, most importantly, the strength of our members, the Union that our members rely on will come out of this crisis stronger than ever before."