Monday, May 04, 2009

Paterson Gives Hotel Labor A Leg Up

Perhaps it was backlash from challenging the unions during the budget process, the flubbing he gave them during the LCA gathering or his dismal poll numbers but Paterson decided to do something good for unionizing in New York's hotel industry last week.

From The NY Times:

Gov. David A. Paterson has issued an order making it easier for labor unions to organize thousands of workers at some of New York’s largest new hotel and convention center projects, including hotels in Niagara Falls and at the Belmont Park racetrack in Nassau County and the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

The directive, which was signed on April 24 and issued on Friday, will require the operators of projects that receive assistance like loans, tax breaks or property leases from state agencies or public authorities to obtain “labor peace” agreements with unions seeking to organize their workers.[...]

The new rule signifies a major victory for Unite HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union, which has been pressing Mr. Paterson and his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, to issue the directive for more than a year. The move also gives Mr. Paterson, who is struggling to shore up his political base and improve his poll numbers, a chit with unions that have been close to Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, his most likely rival in a Democratic primary.

“What the governor is basically saying with this order is if the state has a proprietary interest in a hospitality project, we need to take steps, just like any responsible private investor would, to forestall the possibility of any future disruption to revenues to the state associated with those projects,” said Neal Kwatra, the director of political and strategic affairs for the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which represents about 30,000 hotel workers, primarily in the city.
With just a quick signature of the Governor's pen, hotel workers got a huge boost out of Albany. Employee Free Choice legislation is having difficulty in its passage nationwide but here in New York our government must respect and encourage the labor movement so that workers are given the chance to stand up against employers who look to get the lowest labor cost that they can. Now if Paterson can stop mocking the unions and stand in solidarity with them, then we can really get things done.