Our Year in Photos
None of us could wait to ring in 2021; we had endured quite a year in 2020. But this year had its own challenges. And while the pandemic continues to rage on, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. That light is our Union’s fighting spirit, working overtime to ensure that as industries start to recover—as CEOs and owners earn record salaries and bonuses—we all can #ComeBackStronger than ever before.
We Came to #TakeBackTheSenate in Georgia
Many of us rang in the New Year in 2021 alone in a hotel room in Georgia. That’s because we kicked off 2021 on the heels of a major victory last November—and as we said we would #TakeBack2020, we said we would #TakeBackTheSenate. And we did, knocking on millions of doors as part of a broad coalition that won the vote for two historic candidates to represent Georgia and our country on the Hill.
Fighting for 180,000 Housekeeper Jobs
Hospitality employers are using the pandemic as an excuse to make labor cuts that boost profits at the expense of workers and customers alike. In a report we released this year, 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. In 2021, we started campaigning to bring these good jobs back and protect guests, workers, and the largely Black and brown communities that housekeepers support with their wages.
Major Contract Wins: How We Come Back Stronger
This year, our union won landmark contract victories that are paving the way for us to Come Back Stronger—from $4 per hour raises for Sacramento Hard Rock Casino workers and $7 per hour raises won by San Francisco Giants concessions workers, to a strike-averting wins for Kaiser workers in Honolulu to historic raises between $5.31 and $6.24 per hour for workers at Lumen Field in Seattle and the “strongest university contract in the country” ratified by Yale unions in October—to highlight just a few. Thousands more UNITE HERE members won their first union contract, including 15 Google cafeteria units, Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and workers at the Javits Center and the Marriott Marquis in New York City.
Organizing Victories Through it All
This year, we will have organized more than 10,000 workers into our union and secured first collective bargaining agreements for thousands of workers in these new shops, including multiple Google campuses, Allegiant Stadium in Nevada, DNC, and more.
Taking Back Our Health(care): The American Rescue Plan
Our political efforts and wins paid off within weeks when we saw the passage of the American Rescue Plan—one of the most significant relief packages in history. UNITE HERE lobbied for and won 100% COBRA subsidies in the ARP and helped sign up 40,000 unemployed and underemployed workers for six months of free benefits. Elections matter.
Taking Our Shot to Protect Our Communities
UNITE HERE workers stand up for our own health and lives, and the health and lives of our family members and communities. This year, we launched a comprehensive vaccination education—OUR SHOT—program that has reached 675,000 people (and counting!) to promote the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and help people access them.
Protecting 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, we 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.
Providing Relief in the Wake of Climate Disaster
UNITE HERE workers continued relief efforts for families affected by natural disasters, like Hurricane Ida in the Gulf Coast, that devastate and displace our communities. While it’s always difficult to deal with the aftermath of disaster, we don’t do any of it alone. UNITE HERE workers back each other up and together change the lives of thousands of our coworkers and neighbors.
State and Local Political Victories
In 2021, building upon our incredible Take Back 2020 program, we won important legislation to help hospitality workers come back stronger, including three statewide recall statutes (NV, CA, CT), 15 recall or retention city ordinances, and five measures to improve wages and health care for airline catering workers. We also won important local races in cities including Anchorage, New Orleans, and New York City, where UNITE HERE Local 6/HTC helped clinch a crucial victory for Eric Adams.
October 28: A Day of Action to Come Back Stronger
On October 28, after months of layoffs and hardships, over 8,000 UNITE HERE hospitality union workers across the U.S. and Canada demanded better jobs through a variety of events—including marches, pickets, rallies, a strike vote, and a unionization vote, as well as internal events such as meetings with management. Workers’ renewed militancy made headlines during so-called “Striketober,” and our events show how housekeepers and other working people in hospitality are determined to make a comeback.