Person

Peter Ward

Nationality:

America

Occupation:

Union Leader

Main Residence:

Staten Island

Peter Ward is the president of the New York Hotel Trades Council (HTC), vice-president of the New York State AFL-CIO, and has been described as one of the most powerful labor leaders in New York due to his union’s efforts in political organizing. [1]

He mobilized his political machine in 2008 to ensure the Democratic Party won control of the New York State Senate and used similar techniques to elect several members of the New York City Council in 2009. [2]

Ward is described as a “political chameleon,” but he and his unions have been questioned over donations to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) now-defunct Campaign for One New York and the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC). [3]

Background

Peter Ward is the president of the New York Hotel Trades Council; business manager of Unite Here Local 6; recording secretary of the international union, UNITE HERE; vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council; and vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO. [4]

Ward began working for Unite Here Local 6 in 1979, leading to his first union organizing position in 1980. He then became a business agent for Unite Here Local 6 in 1981 and was promoted to vice president of the union in 1984. Ward also became the New York Hotel Trades Council’s (HTC) director of organizing in 1985. He assumed the leadership role (business manager) for Unite Here Local 6 in 1995 and became president of HTC in 1996. [5]

Ward is also a former board member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, former co-chair of the Hudson Yards coalition, and is one of the three members of the New York Wage Commission. [6]

Political Activity

Peter Ward has been described as the most powerful labor leader in New York due to his union’s efforts in political organizing.  Ward ensured members of HTC had a “high degree of political awareness,” so they were able to actively work to support candidates that Ward felt had similar ideas to HTC and himself. [7]

Ward proved the capability of HTC’s organizing in 2008 when members of the union went door-to-door and held a rally to garner support for Daniel Squadron in 2008. Squadron, then a former aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), beat incumbent Democratic Sen. Marty Connor (D-Brooklyn), a 30-year veteran of the State Senate, by eight points. [8]

He mobilized his union members again in 2008 to ensure the Democratic Party won control of the State Senate. Members of HTC used the same tactics they used to help Squadron, and for the first time in 40 years, the Democrats took control of the chamber. [9]

Ward continued to use and improve on these methods in 2009 when HTC helped elect several members of the New York City Council. During that year, members of the union were trained to use software developed to track what voters had been contacted and were taught how to train their colleagues in “micro-targeting.” [10]

HTC-backed members of the City Council led legislative efforts to enact union-backed restrictions on short-term rentals service AirBnB. [11] Council members Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) and Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) both accepted nearly $115,000 from HTC during the 2013 and 2017 election cycles. [12]

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York also received a donation of $200,000 from Unite Here (HTC and Local 6’s parent union) in 2015, while positive talks between City Hall and AirBnB were being conducted. Despite the positive discussions between the company and City Hall, communications were reportedly severed days after Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York received the donation. [13]

Peter Ward, the recording secretary of Unite Here, claimed through a spokesperson that he was “not aware” of the contribution,[14] despite it being the union’s largest contribution to a non-profit organization in 2015. [15]

HTC also contributed $100,000 to the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC) in November 2015 which the union declared on its annual report to the U.S. Department of Labor as “Political Activities and Lobbying,” with the purpose of the donation as “BNB Campaign.”

HANYC is a member of the Tourism Industry Coalition (TIC),[16] which stated in a brochure released on March 1, 2016, that the most “significant business cost” would appear from an increase of the minimum wage to $15. In the brochure, TIC claimed that if the minimum wage was raised to $15, there would be a “$14,000 per year increase in labor costs for a full-time position.” [17]

According to a letter he sent to fellow New York City labor leaders in 2016, Ward and HTC have “always supported, with money and troops,” the campaign Fight for 15, and the raise of the minimum wage to $15. [18]

References

  1. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/. ^
  2. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/2/. ^
  3. “Inquiries to New York Union Leader Peter Ward Go Unanswered.” Checks and Balances Project. April 12, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://checksandbalancesproject.org/inquiries-to-new-york-union-leader-peter-ward-go-unanswered/. ^
  4. “Union Officers: About.” Union Officers | About. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://hotelworkers.org/about/union-officers. ^
  5. “Union Officers: About.” Union Officers | About. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://hotelworkers.org/about/union-officers. ^
  6. “Peter Ward.” MTA. Accessed July 02, 2019. http://web.mta.info/mta/leadership/ward.htm. ^
  7. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/. ^
  8. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/2/. ^
  9. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/2/. ^
  10. Freedlander, David, and David Freedlander. “The Hospitality Honcho: How Peter Ward Became The Most Powerful Labor Leader in New York City.” Observer. July 18, 2012. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://observer.com/2012/07/the-hospitality-honcho-how-peter-ward-became-the-most-powerful-labor-leader-in-new-york-city/2/. ^
  11. Anuta, Joe. “Airbnb Questions Hotel Union’s Campaign Contributions to City Council Members.” Crain’s New York Business. June 22, 2018. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180622/REAL_ESTATE/180629966/on-the-offensive-airbnb-questions-hotel-union-s-campaign-contributions-to-city-council-members. ^
  12. Kevin-R. “City Council Members Accepted Thousands of Dollars from Hotel Union Ahead of Airbnb Bill Vote: Report.” The Real Deal New York. June 25, 2018. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://therealdeal.com/2018/06/25/city-council-members-accepted-thousands-of-dollars-from-hotel-union-ahead-of-airbnb-bill-vote-report/. ^
  13. Smith, Greg B. “EXCLUSIVE: De Blasio Admin Broke off Talks with Airbnb Shortly after Donations from Labor Union.” Nydailynews.com. February 04, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-admin-broke-talks-airbnb-donations-article-1.2965910. ^
  14. Smith, Greg B. “EXCLUSIVE: De Blasio Admin Broke off Talks with Airbnb Shortly after Donations from Labor Union.” Nydailynews.com. February 04, 2017. Accessed July 02, 2019. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-admin-broke-talks-airbnb-donations-article-1.2965910. ^
  15. “UNITE HERE 2015 LM2.” ChecksandBalancesProject.org. Accessed July 2, 2019. https://checksandbalancesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/UNITE-HERE-NATL-2015-LM2.pdf. (Page 100) ^
  16. “Members.” Tourism Industry Coalition. Accessed July 2, 2019. http://www.ticnys.org/members/. ^
  17. “TIC 2016 Tourism Action Day Brochure.” Checks and Balances Project. Accessed July 2, 2019. https://checksandbalancesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Tourism-Industry-Coalition-2016.pdf. ^
  18. “Peter Ward Letter – 04.18.16.” Checks and Balances Project. Accessed July 2, 2019. https://checksandbalancesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/4.18.16-Ward-Letter.pdf. ^
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