Paramount Hotel to Reopen, 170 Back to Work

Richard Osei, Housekeeping at the Paramount Hotel, was violently attacked while laid off, prohibiting him from working a temporary job for many months. "80-90% of my situation will be solved once the Paramount reopens," Richard shares.

Hotel Voice, Summer 2022

In May, workers at the Paramount Hotel got the news they had been waiting for: the hotel was finally reopening.

Richard Osei, in the Housekeeping Department, was one of the 170 union workers laid off from the Paramount in March 2020. “I had to take a part-time job driving a taxi when the Paramount closed,” Richard explains. “One day on the job, I was violently attacked. My face was broken, I lost my vision. I was dying, and scheduled for brain surgery.” Richard had no health insurance and he couldn’t work for many months due to his injuries. He applied for food stamps three times (but was denied) and now, he’s facing eviction from his home of 18 years.

“80–90% of my situation will be solved once the Paramount reopens,” says Richard. Going back to work at the Paramount means Richard and his coworkers, will not only get their union health benefits back, but their livelihoods as well.

The Paramount workers unionized in 1995, and since then our members there have been able to count on free, high-quality health insurance, good wages, and a reliable schedule. But they lost all that and more when the COVID-19 pandemic led the hotel to close.

The hotel almost didn’t reopen. The hotel’s owner Aby Rosen had been considering an agreement to convert the property into a homeless shelter and supportive housing. However, the potential operator was refusing to sign our union contract, the Industry-Wide Agreement. This gave our Union a unique opening to fight against the conversion of the hotel.

“While the owner certainly had the right to convert the hotel, when the potential new operator refused to sign on to our contract, in our mind any deal was dead,” explains HTC General Counsel Amy Bokerman. “We are very proud that our Union was able to keep the Paramount a hotel and to see our members returning to work.”