Message from NYS AFL-CIO President Cilento on Hilton Albany Boycott

 Hilton Albany Boycott

We are writing to make sure you are aware of the Hotel Trades Council, AFL-CIO (HTC) boycott and walk-and work picket line against the Hilton Albany hotel in support of 147 employees who are fighting to renew their union contract. The workers have been picketing the hotel since September 14, 2017, every day, starting in the early morning and continuing on into the night.

Reasons for the dispute

This fight began when the hotel’s new owner, Long Island speculator Attilio Petrocelli, announced his intention to cancel the workers’ retirement plan, and to cut their vacation and bereavement benefits. Petrocelli is stubbornly rejecting HTC’s proposals to adequately remedy health and safety issues in the building, including a rodent problem in the kitchen areas. The hotel also refuses to provide what we consider adequate security. One housekeeper was the victim of an attempted sexual assault on the 5th floor in September. Management will not even agree to the union’s standard “no discrimination” contract language.

HTC is also fighting to significantly raise wages and improve conditions for the employees in the Hilton Albany, and the other unionized hotels in the Albany area.

 No end in sight

The boycott has been successful. Many groups have cancelled their reservations, and the hotel’s ability to book future business has been drying up. Unfortunately though, there has been very little progress in negotiations, and given management’s unwillingness to meet often enough or to send their representatives to the table with adequate authority to bargain, we expect the dispute to continue and escalate, well into the foreseeable future, until we persuade management to bargain in good faith.

 Political support for the boycott

An impressive number of elected officials in New York State government are honoring the boycott. On October 25, Governor Cuomo issued a directive to all state agencies not to book business at the Hilton Albany during the dispute. Most of the members of the state legislature, including all but two of 63 State Senators and 80 out of 149 Assembly members are already on record supporting the boycott. At the local level, 34 out of 55 city and county elected officials in Albany are also honoring the boycott. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, U.S. Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Paul Tonko have supported the workers by speaking at their rallies. The list of elected officials who support the boycott across New York State continues to grow.

 How your union can help

We are particularly proud of all the overwhelming and inspiring support of the labor movement in and around the Capital District, which we will never forget.

Because the legislature will soon be in session and many unions and allied organizations will be coming to Albany, we would like to identify a few things your union might be able to do to help us out:

1. Obviously, please don’t patronize the Hilton Albany hotel, don’t book any future business there, and don’t attend any functions there until the hotel signs a union contract with HTC;

2. Help spread the word about the boycott to your members and to any other groups or individuals who might be visiting Albany, and ask them not to cross the picket line;

3. If you are coming to Albany during the 2018 Legislative Session or organizing a Lobby Day with your members, include a stop to the picket line as part of your plans;

4. If your union hasn’t done so already, please sign the boycott pledge (https://boycotthiltonalbany.com/pledgeletter), and encourage any of the federal, state and local elected officials with whom you have relationships to do the same; 

5. If you have any information relevant to this fight, especially about any people or organizations who have booked or are thinking about booking business with the Hilton Albany, please let us know; and

 6. Help to enlarge our footprint online by publicizing the boycott on your website and on social media. Download a badge to put on your website at (https://boycotthiltonalbany.com/badges)

The boycott website is https://boycotthiltonalbany.com/. We would be delighted if your union put the boycott banner ad, which links to the boycott site, on your homepage.

 If you have any questions or information, or would like assistance in executing any of the above-listed “asks” please contact NYHTC Operations Manager Charlie Metzger at (518) 512-9753 or [email protected].

Thank you for your help.

 In Solidarity,

 Mario Cilento
President, NYS AFL-CIO

Peter Ward
President, Hotel Trades Council, AFL-CIO