The Housekeepers Union says the Washington Hilton is using COVID as a cover to cut jobs.
WASHINGTON — Like anyone who has lost hours or even their jobs due to COVID, the past two years have been difficult for hotel employees. Travel restrictions and general COVID concerns have kept many repeat hotel guests away, meaning less business generated.
“Trying to feed the family, trying to stay above water, paying the bills,” hotel housekeeper Donyale Whitaker said of her struggles with the pandemic.
For many, their jobs came back as the guests returned. But at the Washington Hilton in northwest DC, the housekeepers’ union, Local 25 Unite Here, said many of its members were still unnecessarily out of work.
“They’re losing benefits to their family, they can’t feed their family,” Whitaker said as she joined other housekeepers in protesting on behalf of those who worked at the Washington Hilton outside of it. hotel.
Housekeepers are now struggling not because of COVID, the union says, but because of company policy. Hilton rooms are only cleaned when a guest requests or leaves, which means fewer man hours and fewer people employed.
And when housekeepers have work, they say it’s harder to clean a room just once after checkout.
“Holding parts for a few days, it picks up dust, trash — it stinks,” Whitaker said.
“Same price, less service,” added Paul Schwalb, a member of Local 25 Unite Here.
Schwalb said the company is using COVID as a cover to cut jobs while other unionized hotels in the city have already returned to daily cleaning.
“We fear that if the Washington Hilton gets away with it, it will spread,” Schwalb said. “Everyone is looking for more profit.”
According to the district’s most recent data, hotel stays in November are up nearly 200% from a year ago. But overall occupancy is still below pre-pandemic levels.
“Hilton offers guests choice and control of housekeeping services that meet their needs and comfort level,” the Washington Hilton said in a statement.
The release also says the hotel is continually assessing staffing needs.
Whatever this hotel, or any other hotel, decides to do, employees say there is something guests can do to help immediately.
“Tell them to clean up [your] room every day,” said servant Gamini Perera.