For immediate release
May 5, 2010
Valerie Dugale, [email protected]
TORONTO– Guests at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, the Delta Chelsea and Delta East hotels are unwittingly participating in purported ‘green’ programs that deliver negligible environmental benefits and are instead aimed at significantly reducing the number of room attendants employed at the hotels each day. Hotel workers, along with unions who do business with the hotels, have called for an end to the Sheraton’s ‘Make a Green Choice’ program and the Delta’s ‘Green Star” programs.
“This is one of the most deceptive programs ever foisted on hotel guests who want to make a difference,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan.
While turning down daily towel and linen service has long been offered as a way to save energy, the Sheraton and Delta programs offer guests the option of declining housekeeping services to ‘conserve natural resources’ in return for a $5 daily voucher. Between 70 to 100 guests have hung the notices out each night at the Sheraton, for example. If more room attendants are required, they are called early the next morning to come in for a shift.
“After five days of no housekeeping, it takes us three times as long to clean the room. We use almost as much cleaning fluids as we’d use on a daily basis because the rooms are so dirty,” said Brigida Ruiz, who works as a room attendant at the Sheraton Hotel. “Most guests have told me they didn’t really read the card and thought they were doing something good. Then they’ve asked for housekeeping services, not realizing that they’ve declined them.”
UNITE HERE, the union representing hotel workers, estimates that between 30 to 40 eight-hour shifts are being lost by room attendants every week at the Sheraton because of the program. When the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) refused the program at its recent convention at the Sheraton, the hotel had to call in about 20 more room attendants. The Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) and United Steelworkers have also asked the hotel to remove the ‘green choice’ cards from members’ rooms at their conferences. UNITE HERE estimates that union conventions and conferences make up about 40% of the Sheraton Centre’s business.
“Each day, room attendants with lower seniority wait to see if they are called. They can’t plan their life or take another job because they never know if they are going to be called into work,” added Ruiz. Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Green Jobs for All Coalition, added that green programs are meant to create good green jobs on an equitable basis for all workers, not lead to precarious work. “Not only is this program deceiving guests, it is eroding good jobs for hotel workers, many of whom are immigrants, women and workers of colour who are trying to support their families.”
Local 75 represents over 7000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit www.uniteherelocal75.org.