Providence, RI – At its most recent meeting December 6, 2010, the Brown University Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policy (ACCRIP) unanimously recommended that Brown, a current investor in HEI Hotels and Resorts, should not further invest in the company in the future, until HEI proves it meets Brown’s ethical standards for investment. ACCRIP has previously advised against investment in tobacco companies and companies that support and profit from genocide in Sudan, and all of its recommendations have been implemented in the past.
In the recommendation sent to President Simmons, ACCRIP questioned whether Brown’s association with HEI adheres to the University’s ethical investment standards. The committee recognized that HEI has not been found guilty of any violations of the National Labor Relations Act, but stated that “a persistent pattern of allegations involving the company’s treatment of workers and interference with their efforts to unionize, combined with repeated settlements, as described above, raised serious questions whether Brown’s continued association with HEI would be consistent with the ethical principles governing the university’s investments.” In one such settlement, HEI agreed to reinstate with full back pay and seniority a pro-union worker who had been fired. In another instance, workers at an HEI-owned hotel filed a complaint seeking $120,000 in back pay owed as compensation for being denied their legally-mandated on-the-job breaks.
HEI Hotels and Resorts, one of the fastest growing national hotel management companies, raises funds largely from the investments of prestigious universities. This is not the first time Brown has had to assert its commitment, as an HEI investor, to workers’ freedom to organize. In February 2010, President Ruth Simmons sent a letter to HEI stating that if allegations of management intimidation of workers due to their pro-union activities were substantiated, “this would be a matter of deep concern and contrary to [Brown’s] standards for investing.” ACCRIP is composed of administrators, faculty, and students, and their recommendation reflects the deep concern that many other members of the Brown community share.
“After President Simmons’ letter in February, administrators at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania joined in publicly expressing concern about workers’ rights at HEI hotels. We hope that ACCRIP’s recommendation that Brown not reinvest in HEI motivates other universities to make the same decision, and ultimately results in HEI hotel workers being respected at work,” said Beth Caldwell, a member of the Brown Student Labor Alliance.
For more information on labor violations at HEI owned hotels, click here.