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Allston Task Force Addresses DoubleTree Hotel

Employees of the DoubleTree hotel in Allston raised a demand for equitable treatment in the workplace during the Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting Monday night. With the beginning of Harvard’s next phase of development in Allston drawing nearer, Allston residents and task force members alike expressed a desire to address the University’s commitment to equitable labor management.

“We need to guarantee that [Harvard] will not hide behind third-party co-development,” said task force member Brent C. Whelan ’73. “We are now looking at a long series of [inequitable employer situations].”

While Whelan noted that Hilton technically manages the DoubleTree, he said that Harvard’s ownership of the hotel building means that the University bears responsibility for the treatment of its workers. The Institutional Master Plan the University filed in July includes developments that will be similarly co-developed, with Harvard owning, but not necessarily managing, all of the businesses' buildings.

Gabriel H. Bayard ’15, a member of the Student Labor Action Movement who attended the task force meeting, said that now is a good time to prevent the possibility of inequity in the University’s future developments.

“The best case scenario would be strong language in the IMP,” Bayard said.

After a DoubleTree employee spoke, residents in the audience and some task force member voiced their support for addressing labor language in the plan.

“I felt really proud that my community, for the most part, supported what I had to say,” Guy Rossman, a DoubleTree employee and Allston resident, said in an interview.

Rossman, who was the first DoubleTree employee to speak at Monday’s meeting, said that his job is not sustainable with his current wage and healthcare benefits.

Task force chair Ray V. Mellone, however, emphasized the duty of the task force to look forward to the future, rather than focus on current issues.

“If we’re going to get into labor relations and management, I think we’re on thin ice,” Mellone said.

Addressing the Doubletree employees, he added, “There are certain agencies that can help you out, but we ain’t it.

While the master plan for development in Allston was filed this summer, there remains a comment period until Sept. 24 in which comments can be presented to the Boston Redevelopment Authority for assessment. The task force plans to propose a community benefits package or a list of priorities for community benefits to the BRA later this month.

The bulk of the task force meeting focused on one potential proposal within the benefits package—the creation of an Allston-Brighton Innovation Corridor and the revamping of the Allston-Brighton Resource Center to promote business and workforce development. The proposal seeks to lure business and stabilize Allston’s residential neighborhoods.

“The priority for all this is no empty buildings,” said task force member Cathy Snedeker.

—Staff writer Marco J. Barber Grossi can be reached at mbarbergrossi@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @marco_jbg.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction and clarification:

CORRECTION: November 6, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of Allston task force member Cathy Snedeker.

CLARIFICATION: November 25, 2013

An earlier version of headline of this article and statements in the article stated that the DoubleTree Suites hotel is Harvard-owned. To clarify, the company is housed in a Harvard-owned building.

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