Brown University will stop investing in HEI Hotels & Resorts, a hotel-investment company that has been accused of violating workers' rights. Two properties involved in the labor battle include the HEI-owned Long Beach Hilton, whose workers claim they were denied their 10-minute breaks required by law, and the HEI-managed Embassy Suites Irvine, whose workers have complained of low wages, unaffordable heath care and unmanageable workloads.
HEI depends on endowment funds from Ivy League and other elite universities. Brown's decision to halt new investments, which was announced by university president Ruth Simmons, comes after student protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes at several campuses that have a stake in the Connecticut-based hotelier.
Employees at both Southern California hotels were represented by UNITE
HERE Local 11, the same union embroiled in a multi-year contract dispute
with the Disneyland Resort.
“This is a monumental victory for the workers of the HEI-operated Embassy
Suites Irvine,” said a statement from Ana Maria Trevino, a housekeeper at the Irvine business
hotel, which HEI sold last year but still operates. “The students of Brown heard our pleas for justice and basic rights
on the job, and they took those calls to decision makers at their
university, demanding change.”