1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Records of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, Local 217

 Trade union, Rhode Island and Connecticut

 Records, 1955-1996. Bulk, 1976-1996.

 Size: 3 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 106 sg 2

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, March 2000

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Local 217 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union was founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1901. It retained its name even after its parent organization became the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. It has for many years been affiliated with the AFL/CIO. By 1978, all HERE locals in Rhode Island and Connecticut had been consolidated into Local 217. Here is a rough sketch of some of the mergers leading up to the unification:


1901                Local 217 founded in New Haven, CT

1902                Local 285 (Bartenders) founded in Providence

pre-1912         Local 307 founded in Providence

ca.1960           Local 307 apparently merged into Local 285

1974                Local 285 placed under trusteeship

1976                Local 285 (Rhode Island) merged into Local 217

1978                Local 59 (Hartford) merged into Local 217

Morty Miller was the Rhode Island area director from 1976 to 1985, when he was replaced by Warren Heyman. Heyman remains with Local 217 as secretary-treasurer, with Alisa Gallo the present Rhode Island area director. Most of Local 217's membership consists of hotel workers and cafeteria workers. They have also organized several restaurants attached to other facilities, such as race tracks and the T.F. Green Airport. More details on the Local's specific organizing activities can be found in the inventory section.


Josephson, Matthew. Union House, Union Bar: The History of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, AFL-CIO. New York: Random House, 1956.

Providence directories, 1955-1961

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists largely of research notes, organizing files and newspaper clippings regarding specific sites organized by Local 217. The files are particularly extensive for the Biltmore and Holiday Inn hotels in Providence; the Inn at the Crossings in Warwick; the restaurant at T.F. Green Airport; and the cafeteria workers at the Naval Education and Training Center in Newport, R.I. The Naval Center was unusual because many unionized cafeteria workers were released in 1991, and replaced by mentally handicapped workers placed through the James H. Maher Center.

            The large majority of the records cover the period after Local 285's absorption in 1976. There are only three folders dating earlier than 1976, all relating to Local 285: a contract with a catering company dated 1955, a file on organizing at the Holiday Inn in 1969, and a folder of miscellaneous records.

            The collection contains no board minutes or financial records. It is much richer regarding the Local's organizing activities than about their formal institutional history.

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            These records were donated by Local 217 in 2000, through secretary-treasurer Warren Heyman. Although the Local's main office is in Connecticut, these records all came from their Rhode Island office in Providence. This explains the relative lack of Connecticut records.

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Processing note:

            Because of the sensitive nature of union organizing, the RECORDS IN BOXES 4 AND 5 ARE CLOSED TO PUBLIC USE UNTIL 2032 (a period of forty years from the most recent material). These closed records include organizing files and staff contacts from workplaces that never signed contracts; arbitration and grievance files relating to specific employees; and other material that was deemed confidential in nature.

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Biltmore Plaza (Providence, R.I.)

This hotel was organized by Local 217 in 1980, and remains one of the local's largest contracts.

Box 1, folder 1. Anti-union literature, 1979

Box 1, folder 2. Application cards, 1979

Box 1, folder 3. Arbitration file, 1980 (dress code)

Box 1, folder 4. Arbitration file, 1980 (holiday pay)

Box 1, folder 5. Arbitration file, 1980 (rate of pay)

Box 1, folder 6. Boycott and rally, 1980

Box 1, folder 7. Contracts, 1980 (Spanish and English)

Box 1, folder 8. Contract draft, 1986

Box 1, folder 9. Correspondence, 1979-1980

Box 1, folder 10. Lawsuit, 1981-1982

Box 1, folder 11. News clippings, 1979-1985

Box 1, folder 12. Organizing notes, 1979

*Box 4, folder 1. Arbitration file, 1981

Bostich Inc. (East Greenwich, R.I.)

Local 217 apparently represented the cafetria workers at this industrial plant, who were employed by Service Systems Inc.

Box 1, folder 12a. Correspondence re grievances, 1978

Days Inn (Bridgeport, Conn.)

Box 1, folder 13. Anti-union literature, undated

Days Inn (Providence, R.I.)

            This hotel does not seem to have been the subject of a serious organizing drive.

Box 1, folder 14. Research notes, 1988.

Foxwoods (Ledyard, Conn.)

            Local 217 made preliminary efforts to organize this large casino in the early 1990s.

*Box 4, folder 2. House visit notes, undated

Holiday Inn (Providence, R.I.)

There were at least four major efforts to organize this major downtown hotel, which was owned by Allen & O'Hara Inc. of Memphis, Tenn.: 1969 (by Local 285), 1976-1977, 1986-1987, and 1990-1992. The Union lost an election in October of 1977.

1969 drive:

Box 1, folder 15. Miscellaneous correspondence, etc., 1969

1976-1977 drive:

Box 1, folder 16. Correspondence, 1976-1980

Box 1, folder 17. Election ands NLRB material, 1977

*Box 4, folder 3. Application cards, 1977

*Box 4, folder 4. Organizing notes, 1977

*Box 4, folder 5. Organizing notes, 1977-1982

*Box 4, folder 6. Staff lists, 1977

1986-1987 drive:

Box 1, folder 18. Community support, 1986-1987

Box 1, folder 19. Research on company, 1986

*Box 4, folder 7. Organizing notes, 1986

*Box 4, folder 8. Staff lists, 1986

*Box 4, folder 9. Unfair labor practice reports, 1986

1990-1992 drive:

Box 1, folder 20. Schedules and time cards, 1992

*Box 4, folder 10. Notes on staff, 1992

*Box 4, folder 11. Notes on staff (never visited), 1992

*Box 4, folder 12. Organizing notes, 1992

Holiday Inn (Groton / New London, Conn.)

            Local 217 attempted to organize these two hotels in 1977

*Box 4, folder 13. Organizing notes, 1977

Holiday Inn / Quality Inn (South Kingstown, R.I.)

Local 217 negotiated a contract for the Holiday Inn employees in 1987, which apparently lost later that year when the hotel was sold later that year and reopened under a new name and a largely different staff.

Box 1, folder 21. Contract and correspondence, 1987-1988

Howard Johnson's (Pawtucket, R.I.)

Local 217 made preliminary efforts to organize the hotel and restaurant workers at this location in both1978 and 1988.

*Box 5, folder 1. Organizing notes, 1978-1988

Inn at the Crossings (Warwick, R.I.)

Local 217 began an attempt to organize this hotel in 1988. Sixteen workers met with union representatives on June 18 1990, and were fired the next day. The union filed a suit on behalf of the workers, and won back pay for them over a year later, but the hotel was never organized.

Box 1, folder 22. Research, 1987-1990

Box 1, folder 23. Suit, 1991

*Box 5, folder 2. House visit notes, 1988-1989

*Box 5, folder 3. House visit and related notes, 1990-1991 and undated

*Box 5, folder 4. Staff lists by department, 1990-1991 and undated

*Box 5, folder 5. Staff sheets, 1990-1991 and undated

Marriot Hotel (Westborough, Mass.)

            Local 217 made preliminary efforts to organize this hotel in 1992.

*Box 5, folder 6. Notes on staff, 1992

Naval Education and Training Center (Newport, R.I.)

HERE had a contract to represent the galley employees at this site from at least 1979 through 1992. The employees worked for the various firms that contracted to run the Naval Center's cafeteria, including M&M Services (1979-1980), Military Base Management Inc. (1983), Defense Support Group Ltd. (1985-1986), Southeastern Enterprises (1987-1991), and the James L. Maher Regional Center of the Newport County Chapter for Retarded Citizens (1991-1992). Most of the records in this collection relate to the period of the Maher Center contract. The Maher Center staffed the site largely with employees who were mentally handicapped (referred to as "clients"), as well as a smaller number of previous Naval Center employees who worked with the new staff. The clients did not win union representation.

Box 1, folder 24. Arbitration file, 1987-1991

Box 1, folder 25. Contracts, 1979-1987

Box 1, folder 26. Contract negotiations, 1986

Box 1, folder 27. Contract negotiations, 1987-1990

Box 1, folder 28. Correspondence, 1986-1992

Box 1, folder 29. Employee lists, 1987-1992

Box 1, folder 30. James L. Maher Center board of directors minutes, 1991-1992

Box 1, folder 31. News clippings, 1991-1992

Box 1, folder 32. Schedules, circa 1991-1992

Box 1, folder 33. Supervisor logs, Patrick Hall, 1991-1992 (2 vol.)

Box 1, folder 34. Supervisor logs, Patrick Hall, 1992 (2 vol.)

Box 1, folder 35. Supervisor logs, Ney Hall, 1991-1992 (2 vol.)

Box 2, folder 1. Supervisor logs, Ney Hall, 1992 (2 vol.)

*Box 5, folder 7. Evaluations and discipline reports, 1991-1992

Newport, R.I. (General)

            Local 217 made several general efforts to establish contacts among Newport hotel workers.

*Box 5, folder 8. Organizing notes, 1980-1983

*Box 5, folder 9. Notes on staff, 1991

Pawtucket School Department (Pawtucket, R.I.)

            The cafeteria workers joined Local 217 in 1995, and signed a contract in 1996.

Box 2, folder 2. News clippings, 1995-1996

Plainfield Greyhound Park (Plainfield, Conn.)

The union negotiated a contract for the restaurant workers at this race track in northeastern Connecticut .

Box 2, folder 3. Contract draft, 1987

Box 2, folder 4. Newspaper clippings, 1977-1vcbf

Rocky Point (Warwick, R.I.)

Local 217 picketed the non-union catering facilities at this amusement park in 1976 at several political functions, hoping to draw attention to their cause.

Box 2, folder 5. News clippings, 1976

1025 Club (Johnston, R.I.)

Local 217 picketed this non-union restaurant in 1976 during several political functions, hoping to draw attention to their cause. There does not seem to have ever been a serious effort to organize this family-operated restaurant.

Box 2, folder 6. News clippings, 1976

Rhode Island Convention Center (Providence, R.I.)

In 1994, Local 217 attempted to organize to concessions and banquet employees at the Convention Center, employed by Service America Corp.

Box 2, folder 7. Picket literature, 1994

Salve Regina College (Newport, R.I.)

            Local 217 attempted to organize kitchen workers at the college in 1990.

*Box 5, folder 11. Notes on staff, 1990

Sheraton-Hartford (Hartford, Conn.)

            These hotel workers were represented by Local 217.

Box 2, folder 8. Contract, 1991; miscellaneous, 1993-1996

Sheraton-Islander (Newport, R.I.)

            Local 217 attempted to organize this hotel in 1984.

Box 2, folder 9. Research on company, 1983-1984

*Box 5, folder 12. Notes on staff, 1984

South Kingstown School Department (South Kingstown, R.I.)

In 1988, Local 217 attempted to organize cafeteria workers at the schools, employed by ARA Inc.

*Box 5, folder 13. Notes on staff, 1988

Theodore Francis Green Airport (Warwick, R.I.)

The food service workers at this airport were employed by Airport Terminal Services Inc. and Sports Services Inc., and were represented by HERE as early as 1970. The workers moved from the jurisdiction of Local 285 to Local 217 in 1976, and remained with 217 through at least 1982.

Box 2, folder 10. Annual report of Delaware North, 1979; contract, 1975

Box 2, folder 11. Clippings, 1980-1982

Box 2, folder 12. Correspondence, 1970-1979

Box 2, folder 13. Correspondence, 1980-1982

Box 2, folder 13a. NLRB briefs, 1983-1986

*Box 5, folder 14. Grievance and arbitration files, 1979-1981

Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, R.I.)

            Local 217 organized the bartenders at this theater in 1992.

Box 2, folder 14. Miscellaneous, 1991-1992

U.S. Coast Guard Academy (New London, Conn.)

The cafeteria at this site was operated by ARA Services. Its employees were represented by HERE.

*Box 5, folder 15. Grievances and counseling reports, 1989-1991

Box 2, folder 15. Newspaper clippings, 1985-1986

Westin Hotel (Providence, R.I.)

In 1995, Local 217 organized the waiters, bartenders and housekeepers at this newly constructed hotel attached to the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Box 2, folder 16. News clippings, 1994-1995

Miscellaneous sites

Box 2, folder 17. Newspaper clippings regarding particular organizing projects, as follows:

            Bonanza Bus Terminal (Providence), 1976

            Bostitch Division of Textron (East Greenwich, R.I.), 1978

            College Hill Bookstore (Providence), 1992

            Coventry School Department (Coventry, R.I.), 1993

            Four Points by Sheraton Hotel (Waterbury, Conn.), 1996

            Hilton Hotel (Cranston, R.I.), 1977

            Holiday Inn (Bridgeport, Conn.), 1977

            Honiss Oyster House (Hartford, Conn.), 1979

            Moonlight Specialty Catering (R.I.), undated

            Narragansett Park Racetrack (Pawtucket, R.I.), 1976

            Park Plaza Hotel (New Haven, Conn.), 1995

            Quinnipiac College (Hamden, Conn.), 1991

            Szabo Cafeteria at United Technologies, 1979

            Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), 1996

            Warwick School Department (Warwick, R.I.), 1976, 1991

            West Hartford School Department (West Hartford, Conn.), 1993

            Winkler's Steak House (Providence), 1976

General Local 217 material

Box 3, folder 1. By-laws, undated

Box 3, folder 2. Clippings, 1976-1996

Box 3, folder 3. Community and media resource lists, 1984-1985

Box 3, folder 4. Correspondence, 1978-1994

Box 3, folder 5. Department of Labor regulations, 1972, 1978

Box 3, folder 6. Historical research, by an intern circa 1975-1980

Box 3, folder 7. Information for members, 1992 and undated

Box 3, folder 8. Inspirational quotations (apparently removed from office wall)

Box 3, folder 9. National convention material, 1981, 1991

Box 3, folder 10. Organizing drive status reports, 1988

Box 3, folder 11. Pension plan brochures, 1987, circa 1989

Box 3, folder 12. Promotional literature, undated

Box 3, folder 13. Research notes, circa 1987

Box 3, folder 14. Samples from other unions, 1986-1987

Box 3, folder 15. Staff recruitment, 1987

Other HERE locals

Box 3, folder 16. Local 59 (Hartford) - Newsletters, 1978

Box 3, folder 17. Local 285 (Providence) - Trullis Catering Company contract, 1955

Box 3, folder 18. Local 285 (Providence) - Miscellaneous:

            News clipping, 1957

            Trusteeship reports and correspondence, 1974

            Blank certificate, 1975

(see also Holiday Inn 1969 file)

Other unions

Box 3, folder 19. Mutuel Clerks Union Local 334: Lincoln Greyhound park contract, 1992

Box 3, folder 20. Service Employees International Union, Local 134:

             Providence College cafeteria contract draft, employee handbook, roster, etc., 1988-1990

*Box 5, folder 10. Providence College cafeteria - Notes on staff, 1990-1991

*Material in boxes 4 and 5 is closed to the public until 2032.

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Bartenders - Rhode Island

Biltmore Plaza (Providence, R.I.)

Bostich Inc. (East Greenwich, R.I.)

Connecticut - Commerce

Food service employees - Rhode Island

Heyman, Warren

Holiday Inn (Providence, R.I.)

Hotels - Employees - Rhode Island

Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, Local 285

Inn at the Crossings (Warwick, R.I.)

James L. Maher Regional Center (Middletown, R.I.)

Lincoln Greyhound Park (Lincoln, R.I.)

Mentally handicapped - Employment - Rhode Island

Miller, Mordecai

Mutuel Clerks Union, Local 334

Naval Education and Training Center (Newport, R.I.)

Providence College (Providence, R.I.)

Service Employees International Union, Local 134

Theodore Francis Green Airport (Warwick, R.I.)

Trade-unions - Food industry employees - Connecticut

Trade-unions - Food industry employees - Rhode Island

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