hotel union leader

Analysis of HTC Data Reveals It Represents Barely One-Third of What Union Claims

As readers know, we’ve been looking into the spending and governance choices of union President Peter Ward of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (HTC). Despite the hotel building boom and surging tourism in New York City, especially outside of Manhattan, Ward has emerged as the most prominent leader of efforts to block the growth of home sharing, an affordable, sustainable form of lodging.

Our reporting indicates that Ward is seen by state politicians and the media as a power broker in part because of the size of his membership. No less than an authority than the Office of the New York State Comptroller states in a report titled, “The Hotel Industry in New York City”:

“According to the Council, it represents 75 percent of the hotel industry in New York City.”

That claim is repeated on HTC’s website.

Checking HTC’s Database

Yet an analysis using the HTC’s own database dramatically undercuts this claim.

The fact is that the number of hotels that are union in New York City is just 27%, a third of the percentage claimed by Ward.

According to the State Comptroller report, at the end of 2015, there were 696 hotels in New York City. When we looked up each of those hotels in the HTC database, we found only 188 that are union.

Worse yet, Brooklyn and Queens– the boroughs that have seen the fastest rate of hotel development since 2006–have hardly any union hotels.

In fact, only:

  • 1 of 74 Brooklyn hotels are union (since 2006 the number of hotels in Brooklyn has tripled)
  • 5 of 128 in Queens are union (since 2006 the number of hotels in Queens has doubled)
  • 0 of 25 Bronx hotels are union
  • 0 of 9 Staten Island hotels are apparently union (this assumption is based on the fact that Staten Island is not an option in the HTC database)
  • 182 of 460 Manhattan hotels are union.

hotel union leaderIncentive to Exaggerate?

We can’t say with certainty why the union is inflating its figures, though Mr. Ward certainly has an incentive to be seen as having organized the biggest number of hotels possible.

The failure to organize new hotels in the boroughs outside Manhattan also raises questions about why Ward has been spending so much time, energy and union money fighting home sharing instead of focusing on increasing union presence during a historic hotel boom.

The gap is yet another indication that all is not well in the way hotel union leader Ward is leading his members, including housekeepers who make an average of $38,000 a year. Do they know that $100,000 of their money was given to the Hotel Association of New York– a powerful industry group that has fought increases in wages and benefits? We’ve asked Ward but have so far not received a reply.

For Peter Ward, the list of questions grow.


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Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.