Combatting Union Misinformation

To the editor:

In response to your blog posting (www.LHonline.com/blog), Unions Speak Louder, Faster, our industry faces an important year for collective bargaining as labor contracts with UNITE HERE expire in several major North American markets. In these cities, hotels are prepared to bargain in good faith with their local union partners and offer hotel employees contracts that continue to pay competitive wages and generous benefits.

We're finding, however, that instead of working with hotels to reach fair agreements that address the core economic needs of our employees, UNITE HERE has another agenda: use already unionized hotel employees and their expiring contracts to increase union membership in low-union density areas.

To achieve this goal, UNITE HERE earlier this year launched “Hotel Workers Rising,” an organizing campaign designed to put public pressure on hotels during the upcoming labor negotiations. Interestingly, while their PR campaign claims hotel workers in non-unionized areas are not paid well (ignoring the fact that hotel workers are paid competitive wages based on their area's cost of living), at bargaining tables across the country the union is making card check neutrality — what they see as their key to growth — the priority.

As part of that PR campaign, the union released a study that has turned housekeeper safety into a media event rather than work with the industry to solve any safety concerns they might be aware of. As your readers know better than anyone, we recognize the contributions our employees make to the success of our industry every day and are doing everything we can to protect our most valuable asset.

Hotels are taking specific steps to ensure workplace safety, including hiring ergonomic experts to evaluate room attendant techniques, implementing comprehensive training programs designed to minimize injuries, and investing millions of dollars in automated room cart systems. Hoteliers are looking for every way to limit the physical impact of housekeeping, while meeting escalating customer expectations for comfort. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is a neutral source, hotel and motel workers have a lower rate of injury than employees in other service-based industries.

To combat this campaign of misinformation, AH&LA is actively educating meeting planners, investors, and others, via aggressive media outreach, meetings with think tanks, and inserts in meeting planner publications. I invite your readers to visit our labor-specific website www.ahla.com/labor.
Joseph McInerney, CHA
President & CEO
American Hotel & Lodging Association

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