Detroit Uses City Spotlight to Advance Campaigns
August 10, 2014
The city of Detroit has had a lot of attention in 2014—and not all of it good. But UNITE HERE Local 24 has taken advantage of a number of major recent downtown events to bring attention to organizing efforts at the Crowne Plaza Detroit and the DoubleTree Detroit.
Built right next to the Cobo Center, the Crowne Plaza Ponchartrain Hotel is the city’s major convention hotel. Shuttered by foreclosure in 2009, a Mexican hotelier bought and reopened the property 2013. Local 24 brought a 300-person picket line of members and allies to opening day, calling attention to the hotel’s role in lowering labor standards in the heart of the city.
Workers have recently organized more substantial rallies with their allies. In May, they brought out 150 picketers from the AFT, the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, and other groups. Over 1,000 UAW convention delegates flooded the streets in July for a solidarity rally. Then, thousands at the Motor City Pride parade marched past the Crowne Plaza and expressed their support for the workers.
On the same day as Pride, Local 24 members also turned out to support community, feminist, and LGBT activist groups protesting a so-called “men’s rights” conference at the DoubleTree Detroit. Formerly known as the Fort Shelby Hotel, the workers’ participation helped raise awareness of their boycott of the property.
At the end of July, Local 24 again highlighted these campaigns for Netroots, a top communications convention for unions and progressive organizations. UNITE HERE participated in big way, by including the Crowne Plaza as a stop on the convention’s union tour of Detroit, turning out members to the massive protest against municipal water shut-offs, and sharing ice cream with Netroots participants who joined a special DoubleTree picket line.