HTC Negotiates New Coronavirus Safety Protocol!

July 6, 2021 5:23 PM

On June 28, 2021, our Union negotiated a new Coronavirus Safety Protocol (“CSP”) agreement with the Hotel Association.

In March of 2020, within just two weeks of the onset of the pandemic, our Union negotiated the first CSP agreement which established strict safety standards and protected our members on the job. As the scientific understanding behind the nature of the virus and how it spreads has evolved, our Union has continually updated and renegotiated the CSP agreement to reflect the latest research. Without a doubt, these groundbreaking agreements won by our Union have saved lives and saved jobs by preventing hotels from cutting corners over the last 16 months.

The newest CSP agreement, signed just last week by the Hotel Association, was negotiated amidst the gradual reopening of Union hotels. The agreement, which will remain in effect until April 1, 2022, maintains most of the safety protections from prior CSP agreements, and adds critical new safeguards to protect against airborne transmission of the virus.

The CSP addresses more than safety — it goes a step further to address job security by preserving the requirement for daily room cleaning.

To read a full text of the agreement, click here.

The New CSP Continues These Rights and Protections:

The June 2021 CSP extends many rights from the previous agreements, including the hotels’ obligation to regularly sanitize, provide PPE (including face masks) to employees and purchase vacuum cleaners with HEPA-filters, as well as the right of union employees to decline to work in a guest room when a) a guest is present, or b) has left the room less than 15 minutes before the employee would enter. The new CSP also requires management comply with CDC and government recommendations and hold guests to the same mask wearing policy as they have for the workers.

The new CSP also preserves daily room cleanings for both occupied guest rooms and checkouts. This keeps management from cutting corners and tangibly affects thousands of our members, who will be recalled to work in the coming months because of this continued protection in the CSP agreement.

Air Filtration Guidelines Introduced to Prevent Airborne Spread

Scientists and health officials have determined that COVID-19 is primarily an airborne virus. As such, our Union fought for and won strong air filtration guidelines in this newest CSP agreement. Under the agreement, employers must use particular, highly-rated air filter systems and install HEPA air filters in all employee cafeterias, locker rooms, kitchens, and other spaces where people may congregate without masks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), HEPA filters (which stand for High Efficiency Particulate Air [filter]) are known to trap at least 99.97% of air particles and receive some of the highest ratings possible in terms of air purification standards.

New Rules for PTO

In February of this year, our Union was able to persuade the Governors of New York and New Jersey to allow hotel workers to be vaccinated with other essential workers and get a supply of vaccines at our health centers. Since then, our health centers have vaccinated 12,000 individuals and counting.

Under the new CSP, employees who are back to work and get their first shot, second shot, or booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine during a scheduled shift will be paid during those hours.

In addition, there is extra paid time off for employees who have been recalled to work and who are fully vaccinated, in the process of getting vaccinated, attempting to schedule a vaccination, or have an EEOC-protected accommodation to not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those employees are granted up to 20 additional paid days if they've returned to work and contract COVID-19.

Workers may also take protected unpaid time off due to fear of exposure as a result of commuting or having to work, caring for an immediate family member who has COVID-19, or providing care due to school or childcare closures.

Safety Measures Secured Until April of Next Year

The new CSP will be in effect until at least April 1, 2022. Understanding that the state of the pandemic is fluid, starting this fall, the Union and the Hotel Association will meet every three months, or sooner if needed, to ensure the safety agreement is up-to-date with the best and most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OHSA, and state health authorities.

For the next many months, Union workers will have additional protections on top of the health and safety language in our contracts that cover not only their safety on the job, but also protect their work.

Has your hotel signed the new CSP?

As of June 28th, over 130 hotels have signed the new CSP. To see a complete list of employers who have signed onto the agreement, click here.