January 22, 2008 The Pump Handle 0Comment

The Washington Post’s Jeffrey H. Birnbaum observes that the site of this year’s Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) convention is Denver, Colorado, yet the city only has one unionized hotel.  The DNC should take a page from the American Public Health Association (APHA), which adopted a policy in 1999 (#9922) on the use of union hotels for conventions and major meetings. 

Using the UNITE!HERE website, I confirmed that hotel workers employed at the Hyatt Regency at Colorado Convention Center are represented by a labor organization; they voted in favor of a union in the fall of 2006.  But the Hyatt Regency only has 1,100 guest rooms, and the August 25-28 event is expect to draw 35,000 delegates, journalists and political junkies.  That leaves about 33,000 convention goers to stay in non-union properties.

Why does it matter? 

As the APHA noted in 1999 when its members adopted its policy resolution, workers employed at union hotels are:

“far more likely than their non-union counterparts to be paid a living wage, to receive employer-paid family medical benefits, to enjoy freedom from work-related illness and injuries, and to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The APHA policy specifically states that as the organization’s staff plans for its annual meeting (with 12,000 attendees), they make every effort, to the extent feasible,

  • “to use as main convention hotels only those in which a majority of the hourly workforce is represented by one or more labor unions” and
  • “to insert a clause in their contracts with hotels asserting the right to cancel its contract to use a hotel if that hotel is place on the “Do Not Patronize” list by a local labor body, or is the site of a boycott called because of unfair labor practices by an organization which represents, or is seeking to represent, a unit consisting of the majority of the hotel’s employees.”

I’m proud to be a member of APHA for our advocacy for public health AND our own organizational policies to put our words into deeds. 

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