Each year on April 28, unions like ours pause to observe Workers Memorial Day. We honor the hard work and sacrifice of those who have been injured, made sick or killed on the job and we reaffirm our commitment to fight for safe and healthy workplaces.
A 2006 UNITE HERE report found that many hotel housekeepers experience debilitating pain and injuries after years of making beds and scrubbing toilets. Another academic report published by in 2010 found that the incidence of these injuries can vary by gender and ethnicity, reporting that Latina housekeepers in the study had almost double the risk of injury of white housekeepers doing the same job.1 And hazards of housekeeping work may only get worse as hotel companies implement room changes including heavier mattresses, more linens, and other room amenities.
Employees who report injuries or hazards can face harsh discipline or termination. The consequence is that workers underreport injury and illness and continue to endure life-threatening working conditions. It’s no wonder that, 50,000 workers die from occupational diseases caused by prolonged exposures to toxic chemicals and other health hazards annually.
UNITE HERE has steadily fought back back against employers that put workers in peril and cost lives. But much more work needs to be done.
“No one should have to risk their health at work. But the reality is that too many employers are placing profits over people and workers suffer,” says D. Taylor, the President of UNITE HERE. “By organizing and winning strong union contracts, housekeepers and other workers in the hospitality industry have made great strides to ensure their work is safe and sustainable, and we will continue that work until the dangers facing every worker, from the airport and hotel to farm and factories, are eliminated.”
Read more about Workers Memorial Day here and share this graphic to let the world know that you support workers.
1 “Occupational injury disparities in the US hotel industry,” Susan Buchanan, Pamela Vossenas, Niklas Krause, et.al., American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 53, Issue 2, pp 116-125, February 2010.