The Legacy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: Fighting for Housekeeper Health and Safety Today
March 22, 2023
One hundred and twelve years since Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire killed 146 young immigrant garment workers and galvanized a movement for safe working conditions, housekeepers across the U.S. and Canada are continuing the fight for safer jobs.
The hotel industry saw the pandemic as an opportunity to increase profits by permanently ending the standard of automatic daily housekeeping. That made housekeepers’ workloads even more painful, because hotel rooms are dirtier and harder to clean if they go days without housekeeping. In hotels where daily room cleaning was eliminated, housekeepers reported increased stress, fatigue, physical pain, and higher reliance on pain medication.
So housekeepers fought back. Hotel workers led rallies and marches to demand that hotels restore full service. Thousands of housekeepers in Atlantic City prepared to strike over the issue. And housekeepers across our union made videos sharing stories about filthy rooms and asking guests to choose daily housekeeping.
We’ve now secured agreements or legislation restoring automatic daily housekeeping at hotels in dozens of cities across the U.S. — including Atlanta, Atlantic City, Boston, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and more.
We’re proud of restoring automatic daily housekeeping at so many union hotels, but that only widens the gap between the union and non-union working conditions. Non-union housekeepers in hotels that have eliminated automatic daily housekeeping are now facing heavier workloads in addition to inferior wages and benefits — and our fight continues for the safety of all hotel workers.