This week, Unite Here Local 11 sent a letter to Congress establishing the union’s “firm opposition to the ‘Save Hotel Jobs Act,’” decrying it as a “federal handout” to the hospitality industry.
The bill — which was introduced by a Democratic Senator and has the support of the Unite Here International — would “provide new grants and tax credits to help pay hotel employees, bring back laid-off workers, and ensure safe workplaces.” Apparently, this is not a policy Local 11 can get behind.
Specifically, the bill’s grant program “requires grantees give laid-off hotel workers recall rights to ensure that those who lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic can go back to work.” It also includes a “payroll tax credit for 50 percent of costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment, technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees, and enhanced cleaning protocols.”
It doesn’t matter what protections the bill guarantees hotel workers. According to a press release, it appears Local 11 opposes hotels receiving any sort of financial assistance on principle — even if it could help its own members get back to work. Union co-president Kurt Petersen went so far as to call the bill a “slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, and hotel workers who lost lives and livelihoods because of the pandemic.”
But the president of Unite Here International endorsed the legislation, saying, “The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide important assistance in bringing back good hospitality jobs and making sure that workers who were laid off during the pandemic are recalled back to work.”
Talk about not getting your stories straight. We can only imagine what the International union had to say about Local 11’s opposition behind closed doors.
In addition to criticizing the Save Hotel Jobs Act, Local 11 called on Congress to fix “the Paycheck Protection Program so there is genuine transparency and accountability.” But the union’s own front groups received almost $900k in PPP loans during the pandemic, while some of its favorite hotel targets did not.
It’s remarkable that the union would rail against much-needed financial help for hotels, while admitting in the same press release that 75% of its members in the hospitality industry “remain unemployed.”
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is the same union that continued to pressure out-of-work members to pay union dues during the pandemic. In fact, a mailer Eyes on 11 is sending out in Southern California this week highlights some of Local 11’s worst pandemic moments. That includes its decision to lay off 40 percent of its own staff, while the union’s leaders avoided pay cuts, and Local 11’s fight to keep hotels closed even while it sent members to canvass in-person.
But even we’ll admit, deliberately fighting legislation that could get its members back to work is a new low for Local 11.