Union hotel status could hurt Charlotte's DNC Convention hopes, blog suggests

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A blog site that tracks information on the Democratic Convention is the latest outlet to suggest Charlotte's chances to land the 2012 DNC Convention may hinge on the city's lack of unionized hotels.

DemConWatch, an online blog,  said conventions have been won or lost based on the issue. In one posting, the blog suggested the city of Charlotte is proud not to have any union hotels, and pointed to a "Visit Charlotte" spokesperson's push to attract the DNC, which included the fact that Charlotte has non-union hotels.

A spokesperson for Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority declined an on-camera interview, but said in an email, "Meeting planners regularly tell us that having a non-union convention center is a factor for them in choosing to do business," CRVA Senior Director of Communications Molly Hedrick wrote, adding, "We will work to accommodate the desires of the DNC and any union...should we be selected."

Last week, UNITE HERE, a union of hotel workers, reported it recently wrote the Democratic National Committee, urging it to consider more than just the number and size of hotels, as it scouts for the perfect place to hold its national convention.

"Employees at union hotels are far more likely than employees in non-union hotels to get the sort of basic fair treatment for which the Democratic Party stands," it wrote.

And since Charlotte, UNITE HERE says, has no unionized hotels the DNC should strike The Queen City from the competition.

Democrats have not officially responded, but Dr. David Swindell, director of UNC Charlotte's Public Policy Degree Program, says they're probably not taking this lightly.

"It's a core constituency of the Democratic Party so of course they're going to be interested in something like that," Swindell says.

In fact, Swindell says he's seen picket lines break up conventions before.

"You know some people take that value very seriously with regards to a labor dispute, not wanting to cross a picket line when workers are being - or perceived at least - being mistreated by management."

But he says it's interesting to consider UNITE HERE's motives.

"Leading the Democratic National Committee to decide not to come to Charlotte doesn't create unions for hotel workers, so it's hard to see exactly where their political goal is here," he says.

Well, maybe it's not so hard to see. The union's Minneapolis local is the one who issued a press release on the subject...Minneapolis is another DNC convention finalist. Minneapolis also hosted the most recent Republican National Convention in 2008.

Of the finalist cities, Minneapolis has at least 20 union hotels, a visitors spokesperson told WBTV.com, St. Louis has 10. UNITE HERE claims Cleveland does not have enough union hotels. A spokesperson there, could not be reached for comment.

Motives aside, the damage may have been done.

"There are those who are going to be feeling very uncomfortable if in fact there is a union problem, a labor dispute going on at the same time," Swindell says, "and that could hurt our bid."

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