For immediate release
April 13, 2011
Sen. Labor Committee Hears De Leon Bill to End "Modern Short-Handled Hoe"
SACRAMENTO, CA – On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) and UNITE HERE brought hotel housekeepers from around the state to the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee to push passage of SB 432 to outlaw housekeeping practices that result in housekeepers cleaning bathroom floors on their knees and lifting heavy mattresses for lack of fitted sheets.
Hotel housekeepers frequently clean bathroom floors on their hands and knees, an unsafe and degrading practice that is tolerated by too many hotel employers. This practice, combined with the failure to provide fitted sheets like those used in homes, has led to an unacceptable rate of back and other work-related injuries. A landmark study reported in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2009) by a team of researchers from four universities and UNITE HERE found that hotel housekeepers, particularly females, had the highest injury rates of any hotel service workers in the study. Female housekeepers, especially Hispanic women, had the highest risk of injury. Hispanic women were almost twice as likely to be injured as white housekeepers.
Senator Kevin de León said, "I’m pretty certain these workers prefer the 21st Century to the 18th Century. We’re still expecting them to work in conditions 150 years old. It’s time to allow mops and fitted sheets."
"Too many hotel housekeepers clean bathroom floors on their hands and knees," said Tommy Ruedaflores, CAAA board member. "This unsafe and degrading practice, combined with failure to provide fitted sheets, like those used in homes, has led to a high rate of back and other work related-injuries. SB 432 will prevent injuries by requiring long-handled cleaning mops and fitted sheets in all hotels."
"I have worked as a housekeeper for about 13 years. I work in pain constantly. My body aches all over, but most of all my back from bending and lifting throughout the day," said Housekeeper Gilda Vallejo, who works at the Hyatt Long Beach. "We clean 15-22 rooms per day."
"On September 4, 2009, I felt severe pain in my right shoulder and arm as I tucked in the sheets. I went to a doctor and then was assigned to do ‘light’ duty. I did not recover but still, I worked 8 hours a day cleaning with I only had the full use of my left arm. But in January 2011 I injured my left arm and had to go out on disability," said Nenita Ibe, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Santa Clara for 10 years. "Every night I wake up from the pain and cannot go back to sleep for 2 hours. When I take a bath, I cannot lift my arms above my head to wash my hair. Many of my co-workers work with injuries. We all deserve a safe work place."