Video: Mel King, Mayor Walsh react to Local 26 diversity of hiring initiative

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and long-time activist Mel King remark on the establishment of the city-wide diversity in the hospitality industry task force formed by Local 26 union contracts with major Boston hotels. The remarks were made at the announcement of the task force this summer.

“This is a model that you have developed here that says really clearly that change is possible,” said Mel King.

Bay State Banner: Initiative trains black workers for Boston-area hotel jobs

Mayor Martin Walsh joined members of Boston’s hospitality union, Local 26, and executives from several local hotels yesterday to celebrate the graduation of the first African-American hospitality training class from Local 26’s Best Corp Hospitality Training Center. At the event, Local 26 announced that the class would be named the “Mel King Empowerment Program” in honor of longtime community activist and former state legislator Mel King.

“I commend Local 26 hotel workers for standing up for fairness and equality for all of Boston’s residents,” Walsh said. “Together, the union and their hotel employer partners are making strides to ensure that people of color have access to life-changing career paths in the hotel industry.”

The class is a four-week “Intro to Hospitality” training that includes job shadowing at several of the best hotels in Boston. After graduates complete the class, Local 26 works with hotels to place graduates into hotel jobs.

“Union hotel jobs are good jobs, with low-cost full-coverage healthcare, high wages, and a pension,” said Brian Lang, President of Local 26. “We know that forming a partnership with the best hotel employers in New England to recruit, train and hire African Americans is good for the hospitality industry and is good for the neighborhoods of Boston. We’re proud to see members of the first graduating class start their union jobs this month.”

Local 26 negotiated diversity language into its contracts with 29 Boston area hotels after noticing a decline in African-American representation in the hospitality industry. Local 26’s “Best Corp Hospitality Training Center” coordinates with the hotels on a training class for African Americans.

“I’ve been a cook for more than 25 years, but it’s always been a struggle to make ends meet,” said Bobby Oliver, 49, a resident of Dorchester who graduated from the class last month. “During the hospitality training class, I was able to shadow employees at the Westin Waterfront, and now I’ve got an interview with the General Manager. Getting a union job with higher wages and benefits will really change the lives of my three kids.”

Local 26 represents 7,000 workers in the hospitality industries in the Greater Boston Area. Members include workers of hotels, restaurants, university dining services, the Boston Convention Centers, Fenway Park and Logan International Airport.

Boston Globe: Hospitality Union Recruits African-American Workers

The training program is the central component of an effort by Unite Here Local 26, the hospitality workers’ union, to reach out to the African-American community to fill jobs that offer good wages and benefits. The initiative aims to expand the diversity of hotel workforces, increasingly dominated by immigrants, and meet the growing demand in the industry for employees who are fluent in English. Local 26 is taking a progressive approach to dealing with the economic disparities facing African-Americans, said Tito Jackson, a Boston councilor who used his connections with the black community to recruit trainees for the program.

“There is a very long history of African-American workers in that industry, but as of late we have seen a lot less,” he said. “This program is a workforce development and job-preparedness program that really gives people the skills, the confidence, as well as the opportunity to open the doors of jobs where they can take care of their family.”


Boston Passes Strong Trust Act

The Greater Boston Labor Council worked closely with a number of its affiliated unions and a host of Boston-based immigrant rights advocates in lobbying the Trust Act ordinance through the Boston City Council, which unanimously passed the Boston Trust Act in August.

Brian Lang, the president of UNITE HERE Local 26, whose union helped spearhead the effort to protect immigrant workers, praised Walsh and the Boston City Council.

Local 26 Supports the Trust Act

The following is testimony from Local 26 Secretary Treasurer Henry Green given at a Boston City Council hearing on the Trust Act. The Trust Act would limit the Boston Police Department’s ability to detain immigrants for ICE.

Hello my name is Henry Green. I live on Gallivan Blvd in Dorchester and I am the Secretary – Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 26.

I am here to urge City Council to pass the Trust Act but first to amend it to only hold people with open criminal warrants.

Immigrant rights are civil rights and Boston needs to join the growing national movement of cities, counties and states across the country that are refusing to unconstitutionally detain individuals without criminal warrants. The members of Local 26 are overwhelmingly Boston residents and overwhelmingly immigrants. They work hard to ensure that Boston runs smoothly. They are ambassadors for the city, greeting visitors in our hotels, welcoming them to Boston and making sure their stays are smooth and enjoyable. Our members pay taxes in the City, they are productive citizens and as a result of earning decent wages our members help ensure the economies of Boston’s neighborhoods are strengthened. They support local businesses and are active in their communities. Yet some of our members are undocumented and some of their family members are undocumented. All are trying to gain documentation, but while they wait through the gridlock in DC, they have to live in fear in Boston.

Please support strengthening Boston’s communities and the workers who help make Boston strong. Please support passage of the Trust Act with amendments to only hold people with open criminal warrants. Thank you for taking the time to hear my testimony today.