For immediate release
June 26, 2020
As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Hospitality Workers’ Union UNITE HERE Warns that Strong Safety Standards Are Needed to Protect Black and Brown Workers Disproportionally Impacted by Virus
Union Releases “Clean Hospitality Checklist” for Industry Reopening
NEW YORK—UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union in the U.S. and Canada, today released its “Clean Hospitality Checklist” for the reopening of industries, including hotels and gaming, warning that Black and brown workers are at greater risk if hospitality companies open unsafely. The spread of the virus shows no sign of slowing down—instead, cases are rising across the country—and strong safety measures are necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of hospitality workers.
Over 98% of UNITE HERE’s 300,000 members were unemployed due to COVID-19, and many are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic due to health disparities caused by systemic racism, as reported by the CDC. As workers are called back to work, the union asserted that the hospitality industry could both recover from the pandemic more quickly and protect workers by embracing strong safety standards including cleaning, COVID-19 testing, and swift response to suspected outbreaks.
“Workers’ lives and livelihoods are on the line as this industry reopens, and the stakes are especially high for Black and brown workers,” said D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE, “Our industry’s road to recovery is clear: we need strong, industry-wide standards to protect workers and to make sure the public can trust that it’s safe to travel again. But in our experience, hotel owners are eager to find any opportunity to save on labor costs. The hotel lobby’s plan means real people like our members are out of work, without healthcare, during a deadly pandemic. And we don’t think it’s safe for us.”
The five-point Clean Hospitality checklist includes:
- More frequent cleaning and disinfection, including daily hotel housekeeping;
- Personal protective equipment and social distancing for both workers and guests;
- COVID-19 testing and screening protocols to prevent illness;
- Rapid response to any suspected outbreak;
- No retaliation against workers who speak out about safety.
The complete checklist is available here.
“It’s much harder to sanitize a room that’s gone days without cleaning,” said Aissata Seck, a housekeeper at the Boston Park Plaza and member of UNITE HERE Local 26, “With COVID-19 the stakes are higher than ever. I am scared that I and other hotel workers could become sick without adequate protections like PPE and social distancing.”