SPOTLIGHT ON HEI
A Case for Not Investing in HEI
Many universities have adopted ethical investment policies for their endowments, and also created advisory committees whose role is to advise trustees on ethical and social issues surrounding investments. In 1972 Yale University was the first to adopt such guidelines, drawing from John Simons' The Ethical Investor: Universities and Corporate Responsibility. In this book, universities are encouraged to honor a "moral minimum" and avoid investing in corporations causing social injury or harm to others.1
In a new report, HEI: An Unethical Investment, UNITE HERE provides several examples of why HEI's business practices keep workers living in poverty. Furthermore, HEI takes extreme measures to maximize profits after acquiring a hotel. This includes cutting back on staffing levels, reducing hours of some workers, laying off others, and even eliminating entire job functions. Workers report shortages in the basic materials needed to do their jobs—including struggling to find enough towels and linens, and encountering shortages of basic cleaning supplies like sponges and vacuum cleaners. HEI has allegedly intimidated workers who have spoken out about these issues and has created the impression that it has surveilled workers, along with settling charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Workers at several properties run by HEI Hotels & Resorts—including Le Meridien in San Francisco, the Long Beach Hilton in Southern California, the Sheraton Crystal City in Northern Virginia, and the Embassy Suites in Irvine, California—have called boycotts in support of their demand that their employer adopt a fair process that allows them to decide whether to have a union in an environment free from employer intimidation. Since taking this demand to their employer, union supporters have been terminated, and others have brought charges against HEI for illegal intimidation, surveillance, and interference with their right to organize. Student activists from around the US have joined workers in this campaign, because most of HEI’s financial backing comes from large university endowments.
For more information, visit HEIworkersrising.org.