The working people who make up UNITE HERE have faced the hardships of COVID-19 with grit and determination. Together, we are fighting for a recovery where no one gets left behind. As a union, we will COME BACK STRONGER.
At their peak, COVID-19 shutdowns laid off 98% of UNITE HERE members across the U.S. and Canada. Our union persevered by working hard to help families sustain themselves through the worst of the pandemic.
As the hospitality industry attempts its own comeback, we stand together to ensure hospitality workers come back stronger.
Through this global struggle, the UNITE HERE union difference is perfectly clear.
Helping Hospitality Workers Stay Afloat
As the pandemic shut down the tourism industry, our union worked tirelessly to meet the immediate needs of hospitality worker’s families.
Cash and Food Aid: UNITE HERE Education and Support Fund raised and distributed more than $4.3 million in direct relief for tens of thousands of working families.
Keeping People on the Payroll: We lobbied the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament and individual employers to keep scores of hospitality workers on the payroll and insured long after their last day of work, using the U.S. federal PPP program, the Canadian CEWS program and more.
Federal Stimulus: In 2020, UNITE HERE partnered with the AFL-CIO to lead labor in lobbying for aid for unemployed and frontline workers, shaping core components of the American Rescue Plan. We fought to extend unemployment benefits in Canada as well.
Extended Health Insurance Coverage: UNITE HERE negotiated agreements with employers to ensure that healthcare benefits were extended for six months or more for tens of thousands of unemployed people and their families in the U.S. and Canada.Free Health Insurance: UNITE HERE lobbied for and won 100% COBRA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan and helped sign up 40,000 unemployed and underemployed workers for six months of free benefits.
Full Pay and Benefits for Airline Catering Workers: We secured legislation to guarantee pay for 10,000 catering workers for 18 months while travel slowed.
Help Applying for Unemployment: Click by click, UNITE HERE helped tens of thousands of workers navigate confusing and sometimes broken social service systems to secure the unemployment and other benefits to which they were entitled.
Disaster Relief: UNITE HERE continues its relief efforts for families affected by natural disasters, like Hurricane Ida in the Gulf Coast. These disasters displace and devastate the same communities already hit hardest by COVID-19 and the ensuing shutdowns.
Government Aid for Job Training: UNITE HERE secured funding from the Ontario provincial government for the Hospitality Training Centre 75.
Going Back to Work Safely
Keeping Each Other Safe: Workers with UNITE HERE contracts regularly take on their employers on the job to ensure compliance with safety rules.
Passing Laws: UNITE HERE has helped pass groundbreaking public safety legislation affecting hospitality workplaces in cities and states across the U.S.
New Research: UNITE HERE released extensive safety guidelines for the safe reopening of hotels, casinos, and food service outlets for every employer to maintain a safe environment for both guests and workers.
“Our Shot”: UNITE HERE launched a comprehensive vaccination education program that has reached 675,000 people (and counting!) to promote the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and help people access them.
Bringing Good Jobs Back
UNITE HERE housekeepers in cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco make $35/ hour OR MORE in wages and benefits. These are jobs worth fighting to save. As the hospitality industry roars back, UNITE HERE will ensure that the workers who are its backbone also benefit from its recovery.
Right to Return to Work: Through bargaining and legislation, UNITE HERE has secured the rights of hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers to be the first called back to their old jobs before employers can replace them with new hires in the U.S. and Canada. So far, we have won legislation protecting hospitality workers in 17 cities and statewide in Nevada, Connecticut, and California, as well as in hundreds of workplace agreements.
Hotel Rooms Should Be Cleaned Everyday: Hospitality employers are using the pandemic as an excuse to make labor cuts that boost profits at the expense of workers and customers alike. Our research estimates that just one industry tactic—the attempt to end daily housekeeping in hotels—threatens to eliminate up to 39% of all housekeeping jobs. Now, UNITE HERE is campaigning to bring these good jobs back and protect guests, workers, and the largely Black and brown communities that housekeepers support with their wages.
Building Political Power for Working People
Holding Government Accountable: In this crisis as in others, the hospitality industry has convinced elected officials to bail them out at taxpayers’ expense. UNITE HERE workers call out giveaways in D.C. and Ottawa to companies that rake in billions and raise executive pay while cutting services and laying off workers.
Take Back 2020: Despite the pandemic, our Union ran its biggest political canvassing operation to date, knocking on more than 3 million doors in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania during the 2020 presidential election, and more than 1.6 million doors in Georgia during the Senate runoffs. These political wins secured Democratic control of Congress and the White House and paved the way for a more significant win: billions in direct relief for everyday Americans through the American Rescue Plan and more.
Protect Our Freedom to Vote: In response to the hard-fought gains that working people won in the 2020 elections, many state legislatures have issued all-out assaults on voters. In collaboration with Black Voters Matter, UNITE HERE recruited 1,500 leaders to travel by bus to Washington, D.C. as part of the Freedom Ride for Voting Rights. We returned to the Capitol just a few weeks later to join the Poor People’s Campaign in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience demanding the Senate protect and expand our right to vote.
UNITE HERE is organizing workers in an economy transformed by the pandemic, including new industries like the home meal-kit industry, which saw subscriptions and profits soar in 2020.
Despite massive layoffs and industry devastation, UNITE HERE organized 15,238 new workers into the union in 77 workplaces over the course of the pandemic. Together, we will come back stronger.