Hotel boycott eyed - Catholic Courier

Hotel boycott eyed

ROCHESTER — Area clergy, including Catholic representatives of Clergy and Labor United for Economic Justice, pledged during a Nov. 19 press conference to lead a boycott of Crowne Plaza Hotel beginning March 1, 2008, if management did not allow hotel workers to choose freely whether to unionize.

Some Crowne Plaza employees have been considering unionization through UNITE HERE, a union of needle trades, industrial, textile, hotel and restaurant employees.

“It’s unfortunate that they feel they have to boycott a business when really it is the employees’ decision … to be members of a union or not,” said Paul Kremp, Crowne Plaza’s general manager. “Whatever the employees decide, we will abide by that.”

During the press conference, Thomas Gillett, regional staff director of New York State United Teachers, which had planned to conduct its 2009 assembly in Rochester, announced that the the event will move to Buffalo, taking with it an estimated 2,500 visitors and a projected $5 million economic impact.

Joe Fox, vice president of the New York State Public Employees Federation, said its members have been planning to stay at the Crowne Plaza and other area hotels Sept. 15-17, 2008, for a convention that is estimated to bring $2 million to the area. Fox said the union intends to pull its block of rooms at the Crowne Plaza by Dec. 12 if management doesn’t engage in meaningful talks with UNITE HERE.

“Many of our parishioners work in the Crowne Plaza and other hotels in Rochester, so this is a Catholic family issue,” Father Laurence Tracy, sacramental minister at Rochester’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Michael parishes, said at the press conference.

Also during the press conference, CLUE officials said they had made no recent progress in scheduling talks with Crowne Plaza management.

Kremp said he had met twice with the clergy group earlier this year and also has had telephone conversations with Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, who in July expressed support for having a union hotel in the city.

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