Last Tuesday, the Brown University Community Council, comprised of administrators, faculty, and students, voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution brought by the Student Labor Alliance calling upon the greater Brown University community to support Westin workers by boycotting the Westin Hotel in downtown Providence.
The BUCC is an umbrella committee that represents the entire Brown community in considerations of “University community policy, the governing of the University, and issues related to the overall welfare of the University.”
Last March, workers at the Westin Hotel in Providence voted 138-2 to call for a consumer boycott in response to egregiously unfair treatment by their management, the Procaccianti Group. Management illegally fired three hotel workers for participating in a union picket line in Fall 2009; the National Labor Relations Board re-instated these workers with full back pay after concluding that management’s actions amounted to an unfair labor practice. After contract renegotiations between the hotel management and the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE! Local 217 stalled that Fall, management resorted to unilaterally imposing a drastic 20% pay cut, a 300% increase in health insurance costs, and slashes to employees’ sick days, vacations, and holidays. At the end of June in 2010, fifty workers lost their jobs due to management’s decision to bring in subcontracted workers.
The Brown University Community Council’s resolution follows the decisions made by several Brown-affiliated groups over the past year to honor the boycott. In April 2010, the Brown Key Society and the Brown Class Board pulled their annual Gala black-tie event from the Westin due to the boycott. The Inman Page Black Alumni Council and the Brown Sports Foundation also both moved their events, in September of 2010 and October of 2010 respectively, from the Westin to another venue when Brown University students informed them of the boycott.
The BUCC took out parts of the resolution about avoiding holding off-campus events at venues under boycott in general, and instead determined to further investigate the issue to report back in the future. SLA will definitely be a vocal part of that process going forward–we support ALL hotel workers at venues under boycott or on strike ANYWHERE–but for now are excited that Brown has taken the first step of supporting the Westin boycott.