Hospitality Workers Rising
As the Seattle area hotel sector recovers from the recession to strong
projected growth and profitability, the underside of the industry stands
in stark contrast to the record-breaking financial success that the six
major international hotel chains are experiencing. Our hotel workforce
endures poverty wages as well as pain and injury resulting from the
industry’s unsustainable management practices.
Likewise, the public
bears the cost of public assistance to workers who are not paid enough
to make ends meet. This workforce includes both the people you see in
the front of hotels – desk clerks, bellhops and servers – and those in
the back you don’t – housekeepers, food preparers and laundry workers.
Moreover, the economic hardships and hazardous conditions endured by
hotel employees are disproportionately borne by workers of color and
immigrants. Pain and injury are disproportionately borne by women, who
comprise most of the hotel housekeeping workforce.
Puget Sound Sage is proud to announce the release of our new report: Our Pain, Their Gain: The Hidden Costs of Profitability in Seattle Hotels.
Highlighted findings include:
- Profits and productivity come at worker expense
- Poverty earnings and inadequate benefits leave workers and their families vulnerable
- Pain and injury plague hotel workers at higher rates than coal miners
- Poor working conditions in Seattle hotels are a matter of racial justice and social equity.
- Hotel profits are enhanced by public subsidies for worker health care
- Local public officials and hotel managers can help take the sector on a “high road” path
Sage calls on both public institutions and the private sector to
set tourism and hospitality on a path to contribute to prosperity and
sustainability for all communities. Sage advances the following guiding principles
as a framework for decisions about the future of the tourism and hospitality sector in our region:
- Invest in Seattle area hospitality while investing in Seattle area workers.
- Strive for true sustainability by sustaining our families.
- Healthy businesses should also create healthy communities.
The Seattle hotel market ranks among the 25 largest in the
country and represents a local industry with robust historic growth. With the hotel sector poised to grow by thousands of rooms over the next
few years – including hotels near the convention center, at the Seatac
Airport terminal, and near the recently proposed basketball arena –
addressing the hardships these workers face is both critical and
timely. Moving the Seattle hotel sector to a “high road” labor market
will be good for public health, good for public budgets and good for
hotels.The Collective Bargaining Difference
bargaining creates better working conditions and improved safety for
employees, especially in lower-skill industries requiring less
education. Decades of research demonstrate that the benefits of
collective bargaining, through union membership, accrue
disproportionately to lower-skilled, blue collar workers and workers of
color. Collective bargaining agreements are more likely to result in
health and retirement benefits for workers of color (Click here to read more).