For immediate release
August 22, 2014
Hilton Anchorage Workers Demand Action on Workplace Health Investigation
Months after filing complaint and citing safety concerns, workers turn to Senator Begich
ANCHORAGE, Alaska–Workers at the Anchorage Hilton brought an atypical election-season issue to the attention of U.S. Senator Mark Begich as he visited their employee cafeteria Friday.
A group of maids, bell hops, and other hotel workers are seeking resolution of a complaint they filed with the state’s workplace safety agency May 13. In that complaint, workers alleged that they lacked adequate training and protective equipment when working around mold at the hotel. Some workers reported allergy-like and other symptoms that they were concerned may be related to mold.
“No one should have to worry about their health when they come to work. I take these concerns very seriously,” said Begich to the two dozen workers during their lunch break.
After the Anchorage Hilton reported on May 6 that it had found mold or possible water damage conducive to mold growth in 48 guest rooms, Hilton employees submitted a complaint on May 13 to the Alaska workplace safety administration, Occupational Safety and Health, alleging insufficient safety equipment, training, and knowledge of the issue to safeguard their health when they worked around mold.
More than 12 weeks after filing their state complaint, workers were frustrated with what they say is a slow response.
“We want Occupational Safety and Health to get documentation from the hotel of repair work they’ve done,” said Marvin Jones, President of UNITE HERE Local 878, the union that represents the majority of Hilton Anchorage employees. “We want them to interview the maintenance workers involved in repairs that are due to mold or moisture problems.”
While the Anchorage Hilton has implemented what it calls an “aggressive” preventative maintenance program to address mold and moisture, workers want to ensure that proper training and protective equipment is included in that program.
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UNITE HERE Local 878 represents 1,100 workers in the hospitality industries of Alaska. Local 878 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service outlets, and laundries.