If you are like me, when you travel you try to spend your money in a responsible way that helps the people of the community you are visiting. I like to eat at small “mom and pop” restaurants and to stay at a union hotel whenever I can.
We all know that workers in union hotels have strong workplace protections, benefits, and are usually paid a little better. Which is important to support these union hotels.
Unite HERE is one of the fastest growing unions in the country. They have organized over 8,000 workers this year alone. Unite HERE has been organizing restaurant, hotel, and service industry workers all across the country.
Nelson Lucero works the Starbucks counter inside one of Las Vegas’s biggest hotels. He is a proud member of the Culinary Union local 226. I asked him why him why he chose to be in the union? He said, “I want to make sure that my generation has the opportunity to provide for our families. After 5 years I have a pension, healthcare, and paid vacation.”
Union workers in Las Vegas, like Nelson, earn on average $3,580 more per year than their non-union counterparts. In Boston, a union housekeeper makes on average $10 an hour more than their non-union housekeeper in Miami. This does not include their benefit package that consists of a pension, paid vacation and sick time, and comprehensive healthcare for their entire family with no monthly premium.Aside from the usual protections that come with being a union member, Unite HERE is blazing a new path forward with additional protections for their largely immigrant workforce. They are working with employers to put language into their contracts to protect “undocumented” workers from deportation. Workers can rest easier knowing that their employer will stand up for them if ICE tries to deport them.
They have also worked with employers combat sexual harassment in the workplace and to increase the safety of housekeepers. Unite HERE has negotiated in some of their recent contracts to have “panic buttons” installed in every hotel room. So far over 30 hotels have installed these panic buttons and Unite HERE is pushing a ballot initiative in Chicago to mandate panic buttons in all area hotels. A similar ballot measure passed in Seattle last November.
Unite HERE is also helping their members live better lives. “We just opened a new health clinic that is free for members,” said Bethany Kahn, Communications Director for the Culinary Union local 226.
The health and welfare of their members is part of the reason that the Culinary Union help push through SB 265, a bill that protects people from rapid increases in their Diabetes medications.
“Our members phone banked for 15-20 minutes during their lunch break, and did door to door canvases on the weekends,” explained Kahn.
Even after “Big Pharma” hired an army of high priced lobbyist to kill this bill, the bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval.
Now, Unite HERE is making it easier for you to support their organizing efforts and to stay at a union hotel with their free, Fair Hotel app. The app makes it easy to choose a union hotel in your destination city.
(Download the Fair Hotel app from Itunes or the Google Play store)
“The Fair Hotel program is helping to organize new workers by organizing in cities that do not have union hotels, promoting extra business because our partners agree to use union hotels,” said Sana Siddiq, a Fair Hotel organizer.
The app is only a small part of Unite Here’s Fair Hotel campaign. The best part is for businesses and organization that are planning events and conventions. By joining the Fair Hotel program you can contact a Fair Hotel representative and they will help you find the right union hotel for your upcoming event.
Fair Hotel has also set up some strong protections for you to ensure that your event will not be impacted by possible labor disputes. The Fair Hotel representative contacts the hotel’s local union representative to make sure there is no current or upcoming labor issues at the hotel. This will ensure that your event attendees will not have to cross a picket line to get to their hotel.
The hotel will also notify you within ten days if a labor dispute does arise. In the unfortunate event that a labor dispute does arise, Fair Hotel has you covered. The Fair Hotel agreement allows you to move, change, or cancel your event at no cost. This puts added pressure on the hotels to ensure labor harmony or lose what could be millions of dollars in sales when the convention packs up and leaves
So, you are probably saying, where do I sign up?