Floor Housekeepers at the Intercontinental Times Square ratify first union contract

NYHTC — April 22, 2013

On Friday, March 30th, the Floor Housekeepers at the Intercontinental Times Square voted unanimously to ratify their first union contract. The eight floor housekeepers are now part of the same Union as the rest of the housekeeping department, and are protected by the same contract.

This contract represents a huge economic victory for the workers in terms of wages and benefits. The eight members received raises of $2.50 an hour or more, which comes to an immediate 13% raise for the majority of the supervisors, retroactive to February 13th of this year. This contract also gives the workers guaranteed yearly wage raises, something they never had before. By the end of this contract, the new members will see their wages rise by nearly 29%, reaching an hourly wage for the majority of the Floor Housekeepers of $34.44 by 2019. The workers are now also eligible to receive 100% employer-funded family health care, and have the choice to join the wholly employer-funded pension plan.

Along with the wage increases, the Floor Housekeepers won the many rights that our Industry-Wide Agreement provides over 27,000 other hotel workers here in New York City. They are now protected by rights such as job security, scheduling rights, overtime after 8 hours a day as well as 40 hours a week, the strongest health and safety language in the industry, and protections if the hotel is sold or transferred to a different management company, to name a few.

This contract fundamentally shifts the power dynamic between the workers and management. Floor Supervisors now have a formal grievance procedure to resolve their problems at work. And any problem that cannot be resolved directly with management can be brought for final judgement to an Impartial Chairperson. "Before," said Floor Housekeeper Sandra Diaz, "I was nervous about losing my job if I spoke up. We could ask management to solve our problems, but then we had to sit and hope that they would do something to help. With this contract, now we have the power to make sure our problems at work are fixed."

After the workers voted 7 to 0 to ratify the contract, HTC General Counsel and Local 6 Executive Vice President Rich Maroko explained to the new members that they just won the best contract for hotel workers on the planet, but that our Union did not win a contract like this overnight. It has taken years of struggle, boycotts, and strikes from the generations of dedicated union members that came before them to win what they now have.

Organizing Supervisor and Field Representative Charlotte Hall then gave the new members a crash course in our Union's biggest threat; the tidal wave of non-union hotel development here in the city. This development threatens to lower our Union's density, which is the basis of our power to win great contracts, like the one the Floor Housekeepers at the Intercontinental Times Square just won. Charlotte called on our Union's newest members to volunteer to keep our Union strong, especially with city elections for mayor and city council coming this fall. These elections are an important opportunity for our Union to continue to build our political strength in the City and gain more power to fight this non-union development threat, head-on.

"I'm honestly thrilled. This contract is fantastic, and I am so happy to be a part of the strongest Union for hotel workers in the country," said Floor Housekeeper Vagna Bruno who added, "the wage raises are amazing, and the completely employer-funded health care is unbelievable." Floor Housekeepers Diogenes Burgos and Margaret Ptak joined Sandra and Vagna in saying, "Fighting to join the union was a great decision."

The New York Hotel Trades Council would like to congratulate our newest members at the Intercontinental Times Square.