A crucial tool for hotel employees to demand fair treatment from management is to call for a consumer boycott of their hotel. Brown Student Labor Alliance is working to ensure that, when workers take this step of democratically demanding that the public not patronize their employer, the university respects their demand and does not cross picket lines to hold off-campus events. We would like to see protective language in case of labor disputes included in all contracts for off-campus events, and for the university to adopt a protocol of not using boycotted (or on-strike) hotels for off-campus events.
This issue is of special relevance in Providence, where workers at the Westin hotel voted 138-2 in March 2010 to call for a consumer boycott in response to egregiously unfair treatment by their management, the Procaccianti Group. Management there unfairly fired three hotel workers for participating in a union picket line in fall 2009; after action against the Westin management by the National Labor Relations Board, all three workers were reinstated with full back pay. After contract renegotiations between the hotel management and the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE! Local 217 stalled in fall 2009, management resorted to unilaterally imposing a drastic 20% pay cut, 300% increase in health insurance costs, and slashes to employees’ sick days, vacations, and holidays. These unacceptable actions by Westin management are an attack on workers in the Providence community.
Student Labor Alliance stands in support of the Westin Providence workers and all workers who have called for boycotts of their hotels. We have worked in the past to move university events from the Westin, and will continue to do so as long as the boycott is ongoing and management refuses to treat workers fairly. Learn more about the situation at the Westin Providence.