How Boycotts Assist in Bargaining
If done correctly, movement wide boycotts can hurt the bosses bottom line and keep them honest
After the Hilton Albany refused to negotiate a fair contract with the Hotel Trades Council, the union representing the 146 employees, called for a boycott. Unions, labor-friendly groups, and politicians refused to stay at the hotel and instead joined in the constant picket line outside of the hotel. Now four months later, the legislature is back in session and the Albany Hilton has backed off of their regressive demands and agreed to a fair contract with their employees. Thanks to the solidarity of the union movement, the bosses saw their bottom line being impacted and caved. Below we have provided statements from both the New York Hotel Trades Council and the New York State AFL-CIO who helped organize other unions to join in the boycott.
After a four-month long boycott and picket line, HTC has won a contract for the 146 workers at the Hilton Albany hotel. The employees ratified the agreement on January 24, 2018 with 99% in favor. The contract will continue through April 30, 2022.
Management agreed to drop all of its demands for givebacks. Instead, the employees will keep their pension plan, and have won significant wage increases, improvements in health and other benefits, and additional rights and protections including new anti-discrimination provisions and the installation of a “panic button” system which will protect the safety of employees from harassment and assault.
HTC committed all its resources to win this fight. Our organizing team and business agents tirelessly maintained a daily picket line in front of the hotel. Our political department won incredible support from the overwhelming majority of state and local politicians, both Republican and Democratic, including Governor Cuomo and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. Our boycott team successfully pulled major business from the hotel and launched a media campaign alerting the public to the boycott through websites and ads, billboards, and TV and newspaper coverage. Finally, our team of lawyers fought the Hotel (and won) in the courts, the National Labor Relations Board, and the contract arbitrator.
At the contract ratification Front Desk Agent Shirin Mistry had this to say, “I was on the picket line nearly every day for the past four months. It was worth it.”
During this fight our union received the unwavering support of the whole Albany area labor movement and allied organizations.
“Working people have been so beaten down, we have hard time believing we can stand up, fight back and win. Our union’s organizers showed us we can,” said Cook Tom Miller.
“This boycott worked, and demonstrates that solidarity among fair-minded people can be more than a match for the power of wealth,” said HTC President Peter Ward.
New York State AFL-CIO:
With your help and the dedication of the Hotel Trades Council members and their leaders, union workers at the Hilton Albany have secured a fair contract safeguarding important benefits for members and their families.
We can all be extremely proud of the dedicated HTC members who maintained a presence on the picket line outside the Hilton Albany for four months, never once wavering during this labor dispute. We applaud Peter Ward for his leadership as the Hotel Trades Council President.
This fight showed great solidarity and I want to thank all of our union members and their affiliates who supported their sisters and brothers by joining them on the picket line and I thank all those who did the right thing and boycotted the hotel during this fight. Their support helped to send a powerful message that when working people stand together their collective voice will always be heard.
I encourage everyone to continue showing your support to our brothers and sisters of the HTC by resuming business with the Hilton Albany now that the boycott has been lifted.
President New York State AFL-CIO