Hotel Workers Picket during Fur Rondy (press release)

The Hotel Workers Rising campaign is a national campaign for decent   working conditions and wages for hotel workers

The Hotel Workers Rising campaign is a national campaign for decent working conditions and wages for hotel workers.

Press Release

February 27, 2010

Contact: Amarjeet Chhabra, UNITE HERE Local 878

907-272-6036 (wk) or 416-856-9587 (cell)

Hotel Workers Picket during Fur Rondy!

Sheraton and Hilton workers tell crowds downtown to boycott their hotels

What: Informational Picketline

When: Saturday, February 27th at 4:30pm

Where: Outside the Hilton Anchorage hotel (3th & E St)

Who: Sheraton and Hilton workers; other members of UNITE HERE Local 878; the 4 recently terminated Sheraton workers; and members from the local Anchorage community and labor unions.

Why: Fur Rendezvous and good, hotel jobs have been celebrated Alaskan traditions for over 40 years. Just as the Alaskan fur trade was memorialized in 1935 by the first Fur Rondy festival because of its large economic impact to our region, the Hilton and Sheraton workers hope to shed light on a current industry that substantially impacts our local economy – the hospitality industry. These service sector jobs did not start out as good jobs. In fact, the Anchorage hotel industry only became the kind of family-sustaining jobs they are today because brave men and women fought to make them so. This coming Saturday, during the beginning of Fur Rondy, Sheraton and Hilton workers will call upon the greater community to help them keep another Alaskan tradition alive (good hotel jobs) by boycotting their two hotels.

Throughout the years, our region has benefited greatly from tourism. People now flock from around the world to tour our glaciers, mingle with our wildlife, and gaze at our expansive scenery. While they visit our community, they stay in our hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. Of all the downtown Anchorage, full-service hotels, all are union except for one. This has meant that over the years, union, hotel workers have been able to bargain for similar wages, benefits, and working conditions. This has given way to today’s area-wide standards that have proven to be good for employees and for business.

The success of our region, however, has attracted other lower 48 visitors – hoteliers. These new to town hoteliers, like Dallas-based Ashford and Remington who respectively own and operate the Sheraton Anchorage, and Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex who owns and operates the Hilton Anchorage, seem to care little about the good jobs and business practices that have made our region so welcoming and our communities prosperous. In fact, these two companies are trying to degrade the local standards by proposing to take away their workers’ affordable healthcare plans, increase workloads to an arguably unsafe level, and take away certain job protections that have made it common place for these hotels to employ workers who’ve devoted 10 to 30 years of loyal service. Last Wednesday, the Sheraton even went so far as to fire four, rank and file leaders (with 44 years of service combined) after they engaged in what the union believes is protected union activity.

The Sheraton and Hilton workers, who are represented by UNITE HERE Local 878, are not going to let these out of state hoteliers threaten the fate of the Alaskan hotel industry. Instead, both memberships have overwhelmingly placed boycotts on their hotels in an effort to save our good jobs. So, for the time being, they are asking people to stay away from their hotels in order to urge their employers to listen to their reasonable demands. This Saturday, they, along with various community supporters, will spread their boycott message to thousands who will celebrate another beloved, Alaskan tradition – Fur Rondy!

Please contact Amarjeet if you have any questions: 907-272-6036 (wk) or 416-856-9587 (cell)

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