Union Negotiating Emergency Safety Protocols Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

March 20, 2020 4:30 PM

The Union is negotiating, company by company, a special emergency agreement with the hotel industry to address pressing concerns to our members caused by the Coronavirus Crisis. We are calling the agreement the “Coronavirus Hotel Safety Protocol,” and most of the major hotel operators have already signed on to it (see below for a current list). We are in urgent and energetic discussions with those companies who, as of yet, have not signed.

Coronavirus Hotel Safety Protocol – Basic Summary

This protocol is designed to help protect the employees, guests and general public from the spread of the disease by enacting common sense practices. These include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces and guest rooms using EPA registered antimicrobial agents. This will have the beneficial effect of creating additional work (and therefore wages and, more importantly, health benefits) that can be offered to workers who have been laid off as a result of the dramatic downturn in business as a result of Coronavirus fears.

The protocol also requires other common sense precautions, like making appropriate hand sanitizer generally available throughout the hotel, replacing soap in bathrooms with EPA registered anti-microbial soap, training employees on how to protect themselves and others from exposure to the virus, and training front desk and front service employees to direct guests who are concerned they may have been exposed, to appropriate resources.

“The Union not only makes our jobs safer, the Union is also better for the guests. When this crisis passes and people begin to travel to New York City again, they’ll be able to sleep soundly at a Union hotel because they know that we have safety protocols, the right equipment and sanitizers, and most importantly, we’re not rushing when we clean their rooms, “said member Miguel Torres at the Intercontinental Times Square hotel.

Importantly, the protocol also gives employees far more flexibility in taking time off. It allows employees to use any paid time off (whether sick days, personal days, or vacation days) as well as the holidays yet to come this year, for any reason related to the crisis, including, to self-quarantine, to care for a family member who becomes ill, to care for a child who’s school is closed, or simply because the worker is concerned about exposing themselves at or on the way to work. Employees may also take protected, unpaid time off for those reasons.

The Union takes its responsibility not only to its members, but to the health of the community and to the health of the industry seriously and continues to work towards doing all that it can to allay the impact that this health crisis has on all of us.

Coronavirus Hotel Safety Protocol is Extended 

Our Union has negotiated an agreement that extends the “Coronavirus Hotel Safety Protocol” through August 1st, 2020 and adds important new protections for our members as they return to work, takes steps to prevent outbreaks at a workplace, and makes sure members who contract the Coronavirus are able to take the time they need, with pay, to recover. To read more about the agreement and see a list of hotels that have signed on, click here.