For immediate release
June 5, 2012
Blogger Conference Comes to Providence now that Union Contract is Settled
PROVIDENCE – In 2011 Netroots Nation took its several thousand-member conference to Minneapolis when workers at the Westin Providence called for a boycott of their hotel in response to the hotel management’s drastic cuts to pay and benefits and replacement of union jobs with non-union subcontractors. This week the national progressive blogger conference will make good on its promise to return to Providence following a fair resolution of the dispute.
In March of 2010 Westin Hotel workers declared a boycott in response to wage cuts, slashes in vacation and sick days, and increased healthcare costs for workers, and the elimination of union jobs in favor of non-union subcontracting. The members of UNITE HERE Local 217 at the Westin Providence organized a campaign that touched both local and national organizations, as well as Brown University — all willing to honor the boycott until workers were treated fairly.
Once the Westin Hotel settled a new contract with workers in February of 2011, Netroots Nation agreed to host their 2012 conference in Providence, using the Westin Hotel as one of its partnering hotels.
Providence City Councilwoman Carmen Castillo, a Westin Providence housekeeper for 16 years, spoke glowingly of Netroots’ support for the boycott: "We were able to persevere because of supporters like Netroots Nation. I am a single mom and spent a year without health insurance and had to scrimp to make house payments. My family of four is now in the middle class. Thank you!"
Chris Cook, purchasing and receiving clerk at the Westin Providence, said, “We are so proud that Netroots is now in our hotel. We hope that this is only the beginning of a strong relationship where hotel workers and Netroots work together to support progressive issues. This is about uniting to fight for a world where all workers have dignity and respect.”
UNITE HERE is joining Netroots Nation as a sponsor of the conference and will be running a Facebook and Twitter campaign urging participants to thank Netroots Nation for always choosing union hotels. Hotel boycott efforts nationwide are now focused on Hyatt, which has distinguished itself as the worst employer in the hotel industry.