The Stand

Hotel industry plan would cost women of color billions

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New report by hotel workers’ union finds that housekeeping job cuts would devastate women and communities of color


NEW YORK CITY (June 15, 2021) — The hotel industry’s plan to end daily housekeeping would permanently slash the U.S. housekeeping workforce by up to 39 percent and cost housekeepers up to 180,917 jobs and $4.8 billion in annual lost wages, according to a report released by UNITE HERE, the hotel workers’ union. Hotel executives’ unprecedented move to end this longstanding guest service threatens a catastrophic disinvestment in Black and brown communities because less cleaning means fewer jobs for housekeepers, overwhelmingly women of color. Reducing the frequency of cleaning also creates unsafe workloads because housekeepers who remain on the job would be left to service rooms that have gone days without cleaning or disinfection.

Click here to read the full “Playing Dirty” report.

“My hotel has reopened without daily room cleaning, and I’m so scared that it means I’ll never go back to work,” said Brenda Holland, a Hilton housekeeper who’s worked at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport for six years. “I rely on my job to provide health care for my whole family, and without it my husband’s medication costs $1000 every month. I’ve been looking for other jobs, and everything I’ve found has lower wages and unaffordable health care. The hotel industry’s greed is unbelievable to abandon the people who’ve worked the hardest for them.”

“The hotel industry is trying to get back to full occupancy without ever bringing back its full workforce,” said D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE. “That’s bad for workers and guests, because hotel executives are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to eviscerate housekeeping jobs and cut cleaning services, and when you think about a hotel without daily housekeeping, that’s almost like a college dorm experience. Housekeeping jobs are the backbone of the service economy, and taking these jobs away means that many working families and especially communities of color might never recover.”

Reduced cleaning, permanent job cuts, and unsafe workloads are not inevitable. UNITE HERE has secured daily room cleaning requirements in key markets including New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more, and will continue working to ensure that guests and housekeepers across the U.S. and Canada can expect daily disinfection. Learn more in “Playing Dirty.”

UNITE HERE is the hospitality workers’ union in the U.S. and Canada, representing more than 300,000 workers in hotels, gaming, restaurants and food service, airports, and more. Ninety-eight percent of its members were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as of May 2021, over 70 percent remained out of work. 

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