Hotel Workers Poised To Support Fogarty Building Hotel Project; Developer Questions Wage Issue

Nov 17, 2015

UNITE HERE, Local 217, the hotel workers' union, is poised to support the Fogarty Building hotel project slated for a vote Tuesday by the Providence City Council's Finance Committee, if the committee backs an amendment ensuring a higher wage for workers at the hotel.

However, the Procaccianti Group, which is seeking a 13-year tax stabilization agreement to build a nine-story extended stay hotel on the site of the vacant Fogarty Building, questions whether requiring certain wages as part of the deal is legal.

"We don’t understand a minimum wage requirement to be the case since it is against the law," Procaccianti spokesman Ralph Izzi said via email. "We believe it is the City’s obligation to consider the TSA application on the merits of the project. Specifically, the desperate need for economic growth, job creation and expanding the tax base."

Local 217's Jenna Karlin said the union is prepared to support the hotel project, if it includes an amendment calling for workers to earn 1 1/2 times the federal poverty rate, or more than $14 an hour. Karlin said the wage is important since many workers at the hotel would be women of color who are widely underpaid.

In July, members of the Building Trades expressed frustration that concerns raised by Local 217 seemed to be slowing down the hotel project.

Supporters of the envisioned hotel say it would create construction jobs while enhancing downtown Providence.