W Hotel Must Hire from the Community!

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by Amee Chew

The Chinese Progressive Association has begun a campaign to demand local hiring in developments adjacent to the Boston Chinatown community. Here is their statement tieing development, the economic recession and local responsibility.

Demand Job Opportunities & Training for the Community!
W Hotel Must Hire from the Community!

Due to the economic crisis, our community is suffering lay-offs and low-income that cannot make ends meet.   Especially now, we need a social safety net for citizens - not a bailout for banks and CEOs!   Instead we face government budget cuts and slashes to services and benefits.  

We are often told that development brings economic stimulation and jobs.   However, development has brought gentrification and high rents to Chinatown, displacing residents and local businesses.   Very few people from our community have actually been hired for construction projects, by neighboring institutions, or by the companies that have moved in as a result of development.   Chinese immigrants are barred from well-paying, permanent jobs due to limited English skills; and often the majority of jobs created turn out to be low-paying.

The W Hotel will be part of a current development on Tremont & Stuart Streets.   The hotel, a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels Co, will open this year on August 31, and plans to start hiring for 300 permanent jobs in May.   The development also includes 123 residential condos, stores, restaurants, and parking.

The W Hotel must hire from the community and make its hiring plans clear.   This large employer will have a significant impact on the surrounding community, and that is why we think it must prioritize hiring from Chinatown and local neighborhoods.   It should give Chinese workers who don't speak English a fair chance to get jobs that do not require high English skills to perform.   It must contribute funds for English and job training, to offer workers a career ladder.

We demand that W Hotel:

  • Establish measurable hiring goals for employing Boston residents, minorities, and women, with a particular focus on hiring from the local Chinatown neighborhood.
  • Give equal consideration to applicants with limited English skills, when they possess the necessary qualifications to do the job.   Accept paper applications as an alternative to the online application process.
  • Make public the details of your hiring plans and criteria.
  • Make public plans for the hiring hall in Chinatown.   The hiring hall must not charge fees to job applicants.
  • Create career ladders for employees by funding English for Employment and job training (for both job applicants and current employees).
  • Meet with community organizations about hiring plans, and report back hiring outcomes to the community.

CPA Workers Center has sent a letter to W Hotel seeking a meeting about these concerns.   We are publicizing and mobilizing the community around the situation, and planning future public actions to bring pressure on the company about these needs.

The hiring office that W Hotel plans to open in Chinatown is one of several nominal "community benefits" the developer agreed to offer in exchange for government approval. The developer was also required to pay $126,228 to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, a city fund for job training programs. This might seem like a lot of money, but it is only equivalent to funding about 25 student slots for one class.  

The W Hotel has an agreement with UNITE-HERE Local 26 to allow union elections. With a union contract, employees would be able to have higher pay, benefits, protection from firing. The contract would require the hotel to contribute money to a union fund for employee's job training, legal representation, and housing. The contract negotiations are an opportunity for workers to organize for their needs.  

More commercial developments are planned for the Chinatown area, like the hotel at Filene's.   As the economic crisis worsens, the Workers Center demands these things from the government and private sectors:

Jobs for the community

  • A massive job creation plan that provides good jobs with living wages, benefits, and union rights for people in our community, and prioritizes immigrants and workers with limited English skills who are low-income city residents.  
  • We want Green Jobs for our community, but we also want jobs in other sectors, too.
  • Developments in Chinatown and Boston must hire from the community!   The government should require that their hiring includes Chinese workers, and low-income residents.  
  • Involve community organizations in the hiring process; plans and criteria for hiring must be transparent and publicly announced to the community.
  • Hiring hall services must be free.
  • Linkage money from Chinatown developments must be increased and targeted at the needs of low-income, immigrant workers.

Job Training

  • More funding for English Employment training, and job training!   We want a massive expansion of training programs to meet the needs of immigrant workers with limited English skills.   This includes both more English classes, and job training classes that will actually accept students with limited English.
  • Developments should be required to contribute more funding!