A strike at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit has forced a major conference centered on the city’s revival to change venues.
CityLab 2018, the annual summit to discuss urban affairs hosted by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, was slated to take place at the Westin Book Cadillac from October 28-30.
However, CityLab organizers announced last week that they planned to move the summit if the strikes had not been resolved. The summit will now be held in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, which is seven blocks away at the corner of Randolph and Atwater. Marriott International Inc. operates both the Westin Book Cadillac hotel and the Detroit Marriott.
“I am not sure why when corporations in this country are given a 15 percent tax cut, it is so hard for that money to trickle down,” says Frassetto.
Bargaining between union workers and their employers began after union contracts with Local 24 expired June 30. In September, 98 percent of the 160 Westin Book Cadillac employees who are represented by Union Here voted to authorize a strike.
In a media release, president of Unite Here Local 24 Nia Winston said that hotel workers at Westin Book Cadillac were being punished for their loyalty to the hotel.
"Workers at the Marriott-operated Westin Book stuck by this city through its hardest times, taking years of pay freezes during the recession to make sure the hotel stayed open," Winston said.
"Now the Westin Book Cadillac is the most profitable hotel in the city, yet workers here are being punished for their loyalty, not rewarded — hotel workers at the Westin Book make thousands less a year than hotel workers six blocks away in the same city at hotels that are less profitable.”
The Detroit workers join nearly 5,000 other Unite Here workers currently striking from Marriott jobs across the country. The Unite Here Local 24 chapter represents over 7,000 hospitality workers in metro Detroit, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
The Westin Cadillac strike comes on the heels of a large labor rally for a $15 minimum wage and union rights that was organized by Fight for $15 earlier this month. About 400 workers demonstrated outside the McDonald’s on Woodward Avenue, and former gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed and future 13th District Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib were among 18 cited for disorderly conduct.
The Westin Cadillac issued a statement earlier this month saying that its door will remain open and that it will “continue to bargain in good faith for a fair contract.” Gumpert says that further contract negotiations are set to take place Thursday and Friday.
But strikers remain committed to fighting for better job security and higher wages.
“As we say out here on the line, one day longer, one day stronger,” says Frassetto.
This year’s summit is scheduled to feature billionaire and New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, president of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, among others. Summits in prior years have been held in New York, Los Angeles, London, Miami, and Paris.
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