Heavyweight hotelier and right-wing moneybags Mark Hemstreet has an idea to save America from recession.
Not only that, but in the spirit of national unity he is extending the olive branch to Oregon's unions--the moral equivalent of the McCoys inviting the Hatfields over for a group hug.
For the past seven years, Hemstreet has poured money into ballot measures the unions opposed. But last week, AFL-CIO president Tim Nesbitt says, Hemstreet called him at the office.
"He said he had an idea he was touting to get the country out of the pending economic crises we're facing," Nesbitt says.
Hemstreet did not return calls to WW, but according to emails provided by Nesbitt, the owner of 45 Shilo Inns and convention centers in nine states wants some help with his mortgage.
According to Nesbitt, Hemstreet is advocating a National Mortgage Moratorium Forbearance Plan, which would waive all commercial and personal mortgage payments while the federal government pays the interest for one year.
"It would cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars," says Nesbitt.
Specifically, Hemstreet asked the AFL-CIO to help lobby his plan in Congress. Hemstreet is also offering a 15 percent discount at the Shilo for union members. And, oh, he was also wondering if maybe Nesbitt would stop boycotting him.
"We all need to stay United, & think about the future of our country, & reject the old political bickering, & class warfare divisions of the past!" Hemstreet wrote in one email.
Shilo has been on the 170,000-member union's "Unfair" list ever since 1994, when Hemstreet backed Measure 8, which reduced the pension benefits for public employees (and was later found unconstitutional).
"The unions do a lot of conventions," says Nesbitt. "None of that business goes to Shilo."
The hospitality industry is also suffering as a result of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but since Shilo is privately held, occupancy figures and financial information aren't available to the public.
Nesbitt says he won't helping Hemstreet or lifting the boycott against Shilo anytime soon. If Hemstreet wants unity, Nesbitt says, he could agree to stay out of the way if his employees want to unionize.