After more than four decades with the union, Peter Ward is stepping down as president of the Hotel Trades Council.
Ward announced his resignation Wednesday, and tapped the union’s general counsel, Richard Maroko, to succeed him as president and head of its local affiliate, Unite Here Local 6. Both organizations subsequently approved Maroko’s appointment, according to the HTC.
“I’ve given my life to the Hotel Trades Council and Local 6,” Ward said in a statement. “So, it is hard to express the emotional and moral relief I feel knowing that I am handing over the stewardship of both our unions, and the well-being of our members to such an energetic, tough, honest, dedicated, sharp, strong leader.”
The New York Daily News was first to report Ward’s departure.
Ward, who was named president in 1995, leaves at a turbulent time for the hotel industry. Occupancy and revenue have plunged as travel during the pandemic has screeched to a halt. The 62-year-old has wanted to retire for some time, and has worked closely to prepare Maroko and others to take the helm.
A release put out by HTC noted that Ward was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, the same year as a citywide contract fight. He “won both the contract fight and that battle with cancer but the latter took an extreme toll on him,” according to the union.
Maroko, a New Jersey native who has been with the union for roughly 20 years, said he believes the union will “come out of this crisis stronger than ever before.” In January, he was one of four new members named to New Jersey Transit’s board.
The HTC, which represents 35,000 members, is one of the most politically active unions in the city, and was the only labor union to endorse Mayor Bill de Blasio’s failed presidential bid. In recent years, the union has sparred with Airbnb in the city, arguing that the company removes much-needed rental housing from the market. In November, the union was victorious in its campaign to curb Airbnb across the Hudson River, having thrown its weight behind a Jersey City ordinance that bars short-term rentals in buildings with more than four units.
The union has also faced the proliferation of nonunion hotels in New York. The city has taken steps to curb hotel construction by requiring special permits in Midtown East and the Garment District, as well as in light manufacturing zones. De Blasio has said he supports enacting a special permit rule citywide, which some in the industry believe is still a top priority for the mayor before the end of his term.
Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]