“Luxury and Profits for a Few Comes at the
High Price of Injury and Low Wages for Hotel Workers”
Day 13 of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
Major hotels boast luxurious, well-kept rooms with various amenities, but what the hotel industry hides is the back-breaking pace and oppressive working conditions that hotel workers toil under. During Day 13 of GABRIELA-USA’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, GABRIELA-USA organizations highlight women hotel housekeepers in Long Beach, California, and the larger national hotel workers campaign.
Hotel franchises continuously attempt to boost up their profits, but at the expense of the workers, who keep these businesses running. Hotel workers have higher injury rates than other service workers, according to an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. A major cause for such injuries is the fact that hotel workers are forced to do many tasks within an unrealistic time schedule.
Since almost all hotel housekeepers are women, mostly women of color and from immigrant communities, those advocating for women’s rights and protection should take note of the fact that housekeeping work is rated as the most dangerous job. Hotel housekeepers are pressured with quotas to clean at least 15 rooms or more per day, which includes strenuous work, such as repeatedly lifting heavy mattresses.
“Cleaning between 25 and 30 rooms a day demands working fast and this is how I hurt my body. I am permanently injured in my lower back and shoulder and I can no longer work as a housekeeper. I have pain every day,” stated Celia Alvarez, a Room Attendant who worked at a non-union Hyatt Regency in Long Beach for 19 years before becoming permanently injured (source: UNITEHERE! Study summary sheet).
Sprains, strains, back and shoulder injuries, and arm and wrist pain are regularly reported by housekeepers as they try to keep up with their intense schedules. Repeatedly getting injured on the job puts these workers at risk for permanent disability and pain. Filipina hotel housekeeper Nenita Ibes shares her story below, in a profile by Balitang America.
In addition to unsafe working conditions, hotel and food service workers are among the lowest paid of the economy. A fact sheet made by Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community reported that “41% of hotel workers in Long Beach relied on some form of public assistance in order to meet their basic needs and more than one in five held a second job, working an average of 65 hours per week.”
Low wages and unsafe working conditions compelled housekeepers and other hotel workers to organize themselves and fight back. Hyatt hotel is amongst the worst employers of hotel workers, with the highest injury rate of housekeepers, and with workers falling victim to reduced benefits or job elimination. Currently there is a national Hyatt campaign, and 3,500 Hyatt workers filed complaints with Occupation Health and Safety Administration against 12 Hyatt Hotels. In Long Beach, the hotel workers of the Hyatt hotel have continuously picketed and gained community support. The struggle goes beyond Long Beach, with other Hyatt hotel workers clamoring for their rights in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Honolulu, San Antonio, Chicago, and Indianapolis.
GABRIELA-USA calls on community members to support the hotel workers in their call for living wages and safe working conditions. The hotel workers asks community members to support them by boycotting the Hyatt and Hilton Long Beach and agreeing not to eat, meet, or sleep at these hotels and others with labor disputes. We support the workers call for their unionization, in order to guarantee safer working conditions, in the form of reasonable workloads, needed equipment, and fair wages.
In these days of reflection on gender violence, we must not forget the violence inflicted by employers on those working to make a living. Let’s stand in solidarity until all peoples can work under humane conditions and live in dignity.
Living Wages Now!
Safe Working Conditions Now!
Human Need Not Corporate Greed!
Workers of the World Unite!
For more information on the campaign of the hotel workers visit:
A complete boycott list of hotels can be found at: http://hotelworkersrising.org/HotelGuide/boycott_list.php.
For information on the campaign of the hotel workers in the Long Beach area and upcoming actions, please contact:
Nikole Cababa at firstname.lastname@example.org