Over thirty cast and crew members working on the new Body of Evidence ABC TV pilot had moved out of Westin Providence Hotel in solidarity with the Westin workers’ boycott.
The stars of the pilot, Dana Delany (Katherine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives) and Jeri Ryan (Borg Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager), were among those who switched their accommodations to the Providence Biltmore Hotel. The cast and crew, members of IATSE Locals 600, 52, 798, 161, 481 and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), said that they will not be staying at the Westin Providence Hotel as long as the boycott remains in place. Additionally members of Teamsters from Locals 251 and 817 working on the production respected the Westin Providence workers’ picket line.
Westin Providence workers, UNITE HERE, and Rhode Island Jobs with Justice commended the cast and crew for their actions.
“We’re pleased that Body of Evidence’s cast and crew took a stand to support workplace justice and moved to the Biltmore hotel. In our current economic situation, it is more important than ever to patronize employers who respect workers and provide good jobs for our communities” said Camilo Viveiros, executive director of Rhode Island Jobs with Justice.
Workers and community members have held pickets mornings and afternoons in the sun and in the rain, since the Westin Providence Hotel workers authorized a boycott of the hotel by a 138-2 vote on March 18, 2010. The vote was taken in response to a series of unfair labor practices at the hotel, culminating in the abrupt imposition of 20% pay cuts, harsh increases in housekeeper workloads and new unaffordable health insurance rates by The Procaccianti Group management at the Westin. The Union has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board over The Procaccianti Group’s conduct.
Pete Kuttner, of IATSE, stated “When the men and women I work with heard about the cuts in wages and benefits our sisters and brothers of UNITE HERE 217 were dealt there was no way we could continue staying at the Westin. The unions who represent the workers on ‘Body of Evidence’ support the boycott.”
“It’s an outrage that the Procaccianti management has unilaterally changed my wages and health insurance right in the middle of contract negotiations,” said Chris Cook, a Purchasing and Receiving Agent at the Westin and an Executive Board member of UNITE HERE Local 217, the Union at the hotel. “The Procacciantis are making me choose between putting food on the table and keeping health insurance for my wife and five-year-old son.”
The boycott means that the employees of the Westin Providence are officially asking visitors and conventions not to patronize the hotel. Some people and organizations have already decided cancel events they had planned at the hotel or book at another hotel because of the dispute.
Westin Providence workers say they will reconsider their boycott if The Procaccianti Group management resolves the unfair labor practice charges, including payment to the workers for the money they have lost in the cuts.