Westin Book Cadillac strike forces global leaders' summit to move
An ongoing strike at Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac has prompted a major conference in the city to relocate, organizers confirmed Monday.
The downtown hotel had been slated to house CityLab 2018 from Oct. 28-30. Organized by the think tank the Aspen Institute, The Atlantic magazine and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the gathering was described on its website as "the preeminent global cities summit organized ... to address the most urgent urban issues of our time."
Westin Book Cadillac workers have been picketing since early October, joining thousands of fellow employees nationwide in walking off the job at properties operated by the international Marriott hotel chain. Unite Here, the labor union representing the workers in contract talks, said their wages are significantly lower than similar establishments and have rallied for change.
CityLab organizers last week said they would move the conference if the strike had not been resolved.
It now will be hosted at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, said Anna Bross, senior communications director at The Atlantic.
“We are excited to bring CityLab to Detroit, and welcome urban leaders from around the world to the city starting this weekend,” she said in an email Monday.
Expected attendees include General Motors Co. chairman and CEO Mary Barra; billionaire entrepreneur, philanthropist and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Among the scheduled speakers are Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid; Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker; Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert; and film production designer Hannah Beachler, whose credits include "Black Panther"' and "Moonlight."
Previous summits were hosted by Paris, Miami, London, Los Angeles and New York.
Dozens of mayors from the United States and cities around the world, along with prominent innovators, business leaders, urban experts, artists and activists, are expected to attend, coordinators said.
Organizers "made the right decision" in relocating to the Detroit Marriott, where workers have been cited as earning higher wages, said Rachel Gumpert, national press secretary for Unite Here. "We applaud them."
Another wage negotiation session is slated for later this week, she said. "We’re still very far apart at the table on wages as well as technology and job security."
Marriott representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.