The spread of coronavirus has caused travel bans and closed attractions and restaurants across the country, leaving millions of service employees without a job. California’s hotel workers have been hit especially hard.
In this time of crisis, many laid off workers will undoubtedly look to their union for assistance. Unfortunately, members of Unite Here Local 11 may not be getting the help they need. Apparently, the union still expects members facing financial trouble to pay their monthly dues.
Last week, a union member commented on one of Local 11’s Facebook posts asking, “Are we still being charged for dues???” In reply, another member informed her that, yes, “they’d [Local 11] like us to. No really. I told my rep, sorry, no can do.” For many workers worried about making rent and feeding their families, union dues are an expense they just can’t afford right now.
But that doesn’t seem to matter to the union. One hotel employee — who recently found himself out of work — said his union representative had no trouble telling him his dues payments were still expected. You can see the message he received from his rep earlier this week below (names and contact info have been redacted to protect his identity).
Union members like this whistleblower might be wondering what exactly they’re getting in return for their continued dues payments. The Facebook comments we mentioned earlier were in response to a union post that listed a number for members to call, should they have any questions. For many workers, this may be their only way of getting in contact with the union, considering Local 11 closed all of its offices.
However, it doesn’t appear that this number connects members with a real person. The post instructs workers to “leave a message” with their personal information. As one member wrote, “MAYBE they’ll [Local 11] get back to you.” Judging by some other disgruntled comments, members aren’t feeling too reassured by this outreach method.
During this public health crisis, every little bit helps. But it seems like Local 11 isn’t willing to give members a break if it means hurting the union’s bottom line.