Netroots Nation Demands Westin Bargain Fairly With Workers
Big shout out to Netroots Nation, the group that sponsors a yearly conference for progressive bloggers and online activists. Organizers of the annual event, which is slated for Providence, R.I., in 2011, are letting the Westin Providence hotel know that unless management comes to an agreement with workers there, Netroots Nation will not work with the hotel in hosting the more than 2,000 participants who take part. That would mean a more than $2 million loss for the city, because without the Westin, Netroots Nation would move to another city for sufficient accommodations.
Some 200 hotel workers at the Westin, members of UNITEHERE! Local 217, have been picketing daily in front of the hotel after its owners, the Procaccianti Group, ended contract negotiations and unilaterally imposed a 20-percent pay cut and an increase in employees’ health insurance costs March 14.
As Nolan Treadway, political director of Netroots Nation, writes:
We’re ready to commit to Providence, but we will only do so if we know the workers are getting a fair shake—and for us that means working under a collectively bargained contract that the employees vote to accept.
In a post today at Daily Kos, Rhode Island state Rep. David Segal encourages everyone to sign the petition to Westin management urging a fair deal for workers. Segal will personally deliver the petition. At Daily Kos, he lists management’s actions against the workers:
- Management imposed a 20 percent wage cut.
- Management unilaterally quadrupled employee health insurance costs.
- Management threatened to replace workers with subcontracted labor like the controversial “Hyatt 100″ decision in Boston.
- Management fired three workers in retaliation for joining a picket line (they were later reinstated four months later—after the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] became involved).
- Management broke off contract talks with the hotel workers.
Segal goes on to write:
All of this even though the hotel was built with public money, as part of a publicly subsidized convention center complex. When taxpayer money is invested in these spaces, we need to insist on the protection of Rhode Island families hired to work there.