For immediate release
October 11, 2021
Labor Unions Spent $103 Million at Hilton in 2018 and 2019
NEW YORK – Seventeen unions have said they will review contracts for their future conventions, meetings, and other events to ensure that attendees receive automatic daily housekeeping. The unions – which represent educators, health care professionals, and more – have also written letters to CEO Chris Nassetta, criticizing Hilton’s policy of automatically opting guests out of daily housekeeping and cutting housekeepers’ jobs. In 2018 and 2019 alone, U.S. labor unions spent a total of $103 million at Hilton.
Hilton was one of the first major hotel companies to announce a new policy of automatically opting guests out of daily housekeeping. Industry analysts question whether ending automatic daily housekeeping could lead to hotels charging guests extra for this standard service. “The bigger question that still remains unanswered is whether or not guests will eventually have to pay for housekeeping services,” hotel consultant Rachel Roginsky told the Boston Globe.
“America’s unions are advocating for a recovery where everybody can come back stronger, but Hilton’s plan to end automatic daily housekeeping is terrible for guests and workers,” said Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO, the labor federation of 56 unions and 12.5 million members. “Unions are also hotel customers, hosting myriad conventions, meetings, and other events every year. Labor spent $103 million at Hilton in 2018 and 2019. We’re going to make sure that for our future stays at Hilton, attendees are getting the services we pay for and nobody’s getting left behind.”
“We believe that all working people should be respected, protected, and paid fairly,” said Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “In reducing cleaning services and cutting housekeepers’ jobs, Hilton is disrespecting workers—and betraying customers too. When we book meetings and events, our attendees expect longtime standards like automatic daily housekeeping. We review our business agreements regularly and will make sure our event contracts ensure that attendees can enjoy these standard services in all our future stays at Hilton.” SEIU has two million members.
“Hilton is making a bad decision in reducing cleaning services and slashing the jobs of workers who make them possible,” said Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “Hotel rooms must be cleaned every day to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is the standard of service guests expect from a hotel – not just during a pandemic, but every day. AFSCME stands with Hilton housekeepers and urges Hilton to bring back automatic daily housekeeping.” AFSCME has 1.4 million members.
UNITE HERE estimates that the hotel industry’s plan to end daily housekeeping would permanently slash the U.S. housekeeping workforce by up to 39 percent and cost housekeepers up to $4.8 billion in annual lost wages. Women (88.6 percent of housekeepers) and people of color (73 percent of housekeepers) would be hardest hit. Because rooms are much dirtier after days without cleaning, it also makes housekeepers’ workloads even more painful.
“The work we’re doing right now… is about [making hotels] higher-margin businesses and creating more labor efficiencies, particularly in the areas of housekeeping, food and beverage and other areas,” Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said in February 2021. “When we get out of the crisis, those businesses will be higher margin and require less labor than they did pre-COVID.”
Reduced cleaning, permanent job cuts, and unsafe workloads are not inevitable. UNITE HERE has secured daily room cleaning requirements in key markets including New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more, and will continue working to ensure that guests and housekeepers across the U.S. and Canada can expect daily disinfection. Learn more in UNITE HERE’s “Playing Dirty” report.
UNITE HERE is the hospitality workers’ union in the U.S. and Canada, representing over 300,000 workers in hotels, gaming, restaurants and food service, airports, and more. Ninety-eight percent of its members were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and sixty percent remain out of work today.