Union Uses Political Influence to Propel Reopenings

Hotel Voice, Winter 2022

Since March of 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis decimated our industry, our Union has aggressively and tirelessly worked and fought to accomplish two objectives: 1) to push every possible lever to get as many of you back to work as quickly as possible and 2) to tap every resource to get financial relief for our members who remain laid off. Last Fall, we made progress on both of those fronts by working with our political allies in New York City and New York State.


With regard to New York City, while most of the union clubs and all union casinos reopened by this summer, as of September, there were still over 50 union hotels refusing to open their doors. Many were holding off, hoping that it would give them leverage in negotiations with our Union or with their lenders.

To address this problem, we first focused on the City level. We persuaded over 40 of our allies in the City Council and Mayor de Blasio to support Local Law 2397-A, which would require hotels with at least 100 guest rooms to either 1) reopen and recall 25% of their staff by November 1st or 2) pay $500 per week to laid off employees until they reopen (for up to 30 weeks).

The reason we pushed to get this law passed (against enormous pressure from the well-connected hotel industry, which worked hard to oppose it) was to get hotels to open up and start recalling members — not to do the impossible of supporting everyone who is laid off. Because once a hotel reopens, it will do everything it can to get more business, meaning more members will inevitably be brought back to work.

The new law has been incredibly successful. To date, 24 hotels have reopened, recalling over 2,000 members, and another 11 hotels have remained closed for now and are making weekly severance payments to 1,800 laid off members.

“Our hotel reopened on October 4th,” said Chris Lopez a Houseperson and Delegate at the New York Hilton. “We started with just over 400 employees, but by the time the holidays rolled around, the hotel had reopened most of food & beverage and recalled over 850 of us.”

Hotels that reopened due to the law:


Andaz Wall Street



Cachet Boutique

Cassa Times Square Hotel & Residences


Courtyard Times Square South


Grand Hyatt

Hotel @ Times Square

Hotel 46-Casa Tua


Martinique on Broadway


New York Hilton

Omni Berkshire Place

OYO Times Square

Residence Inn Times Square


The Tuscany

Thompson Central Park

Washington NYC

WestHouse Hotel at Park Central

Hotels that remain closed and are paying weekly severance:

AKA NoMad (formerly Roger)


Crowne Plaza Times Square

Doubletree Metropolitan

Four Seasons


Iberostar 70 Park Avenue


Plaza Athenee



While most hotels are following the new law, the Hotel Association of New York City has challenged it in court and there is a small group of hotels that are refusing to reopen or pay severance until the court issues a ruling. As of the date the Hotel Voice went to print, the lawsuit was still pending. We are continuing to work diligently on getting those hotels to do the right thing.


Turning from the City to the State, HTC President Rich Maroko worked with the new Governor Kathy Hochul, to secure a quarter of a billion dollars from New York State to help hotel workers and the ailing tourism industry. Just like the City law, the State’s initiative was designed to incentivize hotels to recall employees and provide some relief to those who remain unemployed or underemployed.

After speaking with President Maroko about the disproportionate and prolonged impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on our members and their employers, Governor Hochul secured and committed $275 million to help hotel workers. By Executive Order, Hochul set aside $100 million for $2,750 relief checks for unemployed and underemployed hotel workers, $100 million to be used toward grants to incentivize hotels to recall laid off workers for a minimum of six months, and $50 million for international advertising and to attract large convention center and hotel events to New York.

Kerri Duffy, a Painter at the Crowne Plaza Times Square hotel is one of the estimated 20,000 hotel workers who is eligible for the $2,750. “I never in a million years expected to be out of work this long,” said Kerri. “Ever since unemployment ended, it’s been a struggle just to pay my bills. I’ve been looking for work and have only been able to find a part-time job. The $2,750 check from the State helps a lot.”


This crisis has made it starkly clear how important it is to build and maintain our local political power. In addition to the most recent round of relief, our Union has utilized our political strength during this crisis to win 6 months of free COBRA, help thousands of our members navigate problems with unemployment, ensure hotel workers were classified as essential workers and as such got early access to vaccine, win pandemic safety legislation in New Jersey requiring minimum staffing levels and daily room cleanings, and secure enhanced protections in the event a hotel changes hands or files for bankruptcy in New York City and New Jersey.

“Every member who has knocked on doors, turned out to political rallies, or lobbied for legislation with our Union over the years should feel proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said President Maroko. “And every member who questions why the Union gets involved in politics should ask themselves why no other group or union anywhere has managed to win anything close to this.”