One of the most powerful positions in New York politics is now held by a New Jerseyan.
Richard Maroko, who grew up in Cherry Hill and now lives in Montclair, is the new president of the Hotel Trades Council. The union represents about 40,000 hotel and gaming industry employees in New York and New Jersey.
His ascension to the top slot – he’s served as Recording Secretary and General Counsel – follows the unexpected resignation of union president Peter Ward.
Ward had close ties to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who received the endorsement of the influential union during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for president.
Maroko is considered a political ally of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
“Over the past two decades, Rich Maroko has distinguished himself as a pragmatic and tireless advocate for the working class. Rich’s invaluable experience has been a tremendous asset to our NJ TRANSIT Board, and I have the utmost confidence that he will provide the Hotel Trade Council’s 40,000 members with the leadership they deserve,” Murphy said. “With this passing of the torch, I also commend Peter Ward for his 41 years of dedication to the labor community.”
Last year, Murphy waded into local politics in Jersey City to support a referendum to regulate the short-term rental industry. Maroko and his union spent more than $1 million to get the measure passed as part of an expensive fight with Airbnb and other short term rental companies.
Voters approved the ordinance, which had the backing of Mayor Steven Fulop, with a landslide 70%.
Murphy nominated Maroko last year to serve on the board of New Jersey Transit. The labor leader commutes to New York daily using the Montclair-Boonton line, according to his biography.
The son of Polish and Brazilian immigrants, Maroko is a Rutgers and Georgetown Law School graduate who has spent two decades with the Hotel Trades Council.
Maroko has already been leading the New Jersey wing of the union, and he’s tripled his membership and engineered the first statewide master contract in the hotel industry in New Jersey history.