The Story of the First Contract

The “Industry-Wide Agreement” (“IWA” for short), is the Hotel Trades Council’s master union contract with the Hotel Association of New York City, Inc. (which is the union of the hotel owners). Today, the IWA covers 28,000 members of the Hotel Trades Council in New York City – the vast majority of our union’s members, including employees of every type of hotel and motel, large and small, not only in the center of Manhattan but throughout New York City, including the outer boroughs.

Fighting For Social Justice Since 1939

The Hotel Trades Council, AFL-CIO (HTC), has a rich and proud history as a progressive, fighting union. For more than 80 years, it has made life better for literally hundreds of thousands of hotel workers and the members of their families.

HTC was founded in the late 1930's in a massive campaign to organize workers in the New York City hotel industry.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1957 address to our Union

On May 21, 1957, as part of its long-standing efforts to advance the cause of racial justice, Local 6 awarded its fourth annual Better Race Relations Award to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had only recently emerged on the national stage with his leadership of the monumental Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1955-1956. At the time and throughout his life, Dr. King was marginalized, ignored, criticized, persecuted, and hated by huge segments of the country, but our Union recognized his greatness and befriended him from the start. Every member should be proud of that fact.

After receiving the award and a $500 check, Dr. King delivered a stirring speech on civil rights and the labor movement to the Executive Board and Local 6 members gathered in the Union’s Gertrude Lane Auditorium.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are reprinting highlights of Dr. King’s 1957 address, which were originally published in the June 1957 edition of Local 6’s Hotel and Club Voice publication. Read more...

The Little Rock Nine

A few pivotal moments enter history marked with an intensity and a vividness passing years do not diminish. One such event was the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In 1954, the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education mandated the integration of racially segregated schools. Three years later, Central High School remained rigidly segregated. On September 4, 1957, however, nine black students were to attend classes there for the first time.

HTC Pickets Woolworth in Times Square in Solidarity with Sit-Ins Across the South

In February 1960, four brave Black college students walked into a “whites only” lunch counter at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth and sat down, igniting a protest movement to end segregation that spread across the country. The students – Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil – each ordered a cup of coffee and after being refused service, sat quietly in protest until the store closed. The student activists returned the next day in greater numbers and stoically bore the harassment and verbal abuse by white customers. By the third day, the number of peaceful protestors had swelled to the hundreds.

As the Greensboro sit-ins gained national attention, students across the South organized similar sit-ins at Woolworth and other segregated establishments. The activists were often met with aggression, police violence, and even bomb threats. In New York City, our Union organized a picket line of its own outside the Times Square Woolworth in solidarity with the civil rights activists. Read more...

HTC at the 1963 March on Washington

The 1963 March on Washington is one of the most celebrated moments in the Civil Rights Movement. Organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations and progressive unions, the march brought over 250,000 people from around the country to support the passage of civil rights legislation. The march is perhaps best known for Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and is widely credited with contributing to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Historic telegrams found at union

Recently, a union staff member discovered four historic telegrams, dating back to March 1965, documenting our union's early involvement in the civil rights movement. The telegrams were sent by our union at the request of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after the murder, in Selma, Alabama, of Rev. James Reeb by a racist white mob.

Mildred Grossman Photo Exhibit

Mildred Grossman was an award-winning photographer, a teacher and an active member of the New York City Teachers' Union in the 1940s. Her work was part of a collection that has been hailed as the most successful exhibition of photography ever assembled. "The Family of Man," which included two of Grossman's photographs, debuted at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in January 1955, circulated internationally for eight years, and then sold more than 4 million copies in book form.

Americans at Work: Hotel and Restaurant Workers 1958 - 1969 (Video)

This video was part of a series called "Americans at Work", which was produced by the AFL-CIO between 1958 and 1960. "HOTEL AND RESTAURANT WORKERS" features members of our union at work in the banquet department of the Waldorf=Astoria, one of the most famous hotels in the world.

Union Victory in Puerto Rico

When members of Unite Here Local 610 in Puerto Rico entered into a contract fight with Hilton in June 2009, the life of their union was hanging by a thread.

The new contract that was ratified in February 2010 saved their union. It stopped decades of decline and concession bargaining. It significantly raised the members’ standard of living and greatly increased their power.

Members Celebrate Tentative Agreement to Renew IWA at Radio City Music Hall

On February 7th, 2012, nearly 6,000 union members packed Radio City Music Hall to hear HTC President Peter Ward detail the tough negotiations with the Hotel Association of New York City, Inc. (the organization that represents many of the city's hotel owners).

Despite the anti-union sentiment growing in the United States and a precarious economy, our Union’s leadership managed to extend the Union’s Industry Wide Agreement (“the IWA”) for 7 years. Not only did the leadership fight back against the industry’s outrageous list of give backs, but they won big wage increases, increased funding for the union’s pension and medical fund, and won vital job security protections in the new contract.

We Built This City: Immigrant Labor & The Fight for a Democratic New York

HTC President Peter Ward joined esteemed Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny as a speaker at the March 27th, 2013 St. Patricks Day Celebration banquet.

As Peter Ward celebrated the legacy of Irish labor he also cautioned that the "human, legal and social institutions" that Irish and other immigrant laborers helped build over the last century are under attack. Today, he said, labor has a responsibility to protect the public education system, public university system, public parks and all the other institutions that are the pillars of a democratic New York City. Peter closed his speech reminding the audience that the fight that Irish and other immigrant workers started over a century ago to ensure that New York "belongs to its people" is nowhere near over.