For immediate release
May 15, 2018
(908) 752 3929
Washington, DC – UNITE HERE was honored at the 2018 Labor Rights Defenders Awards by the International Labor Rights Forum for the pioneering work the union has done to combat sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. UNITE HERE represents hotel, food service, and casino workers and has received international attention in the past year for success winning protections for workers in the hospitality industry, where harassment is a pervasive problem.
International President of UNITE HERE D. Taylor accepted the award along with a delegation of rank-and -file union hotel workers from multiple cities who have spoken out against sexual harassment in their own hotels. These women included workers from the successful Seattle ballot measure campaign that secured panic buttons and other safety measures for both union and non-union hotel workers, and the recently passed “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance in Chicago that is being implemented this year.
Hospitality industry workers can be particularly vulnerable to harassment and assault from guests because of the isolated nature of some hotel jobs, the power imbalance between paying customers and workers, and the reliance of tipped workers on customers for their pay.
UNITE HERE has worked to address workplace harassment for years before #MeToo brought it to the national forefront. This includes bargaining protections against sexual harassment such as panic buttons into collective bargaining agreements for hotel workers in multiple cities – the first of which was won by UNITE HERE affiliate Hotel Trades Council in New York City, as well as in Washington, DC – and passing laws that create safer workplaces for women in hotels.
Along with receiving the 2018 Labor Rights Defenders Award from the ILRF, UNITE HERE hotel workers have been celebrated for their courage in leading campaigns to end harassment as TIME Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year, and a special episode of ABC 20/20 with Diane Sawyer in April 2018. The union is currently bargaining for stronger sexual harassment protections in multiple cities, and campaigning for panic buttons and other safety regulations at the city and state levels.
UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries across the US and Canada.