US Catholic Faith in Real Life

A major victory for hotel workers

By Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Those who labor in the hotel industry might be getting a better night's rest with the news that the union UNITE HERE has reached a deal with HEI Hotels & Resorts, bringing an end to a long battle between the two sides. Though the details of the agreement were not made public, a press release announced the formation of "a long-term partnership focused on generating mutual growth and improving industry-wide labor relations through communication."

It is no secret that the workers who clean the rooms, wash the dishes, and serve the guests of some high-cost hotels aren't always treated fairly by their employers (Hyatt is known for being particularly guilty of this). They are among the workers that Catholic and interfaith labor groups have been helping to defend in hopes of providing just wages and improved working conditions that respect the dignity of these employees. Hopefully this new agreement will make that a possibility for many of these workers.

The hotel deal comes on the heels of last week's strike by fast food workers nationwide, another group that has been fighting for a living wage. And as the Economic Policy Institute notes, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour isn't enough to keep a full-time working parent above the poverty line today. And as Kevin Clarke writes in our November issue, Catholic teaching calls not only for a living wage, but a "just wage" that is "adequate to provide not only for their families’ daily needs, but ample enough to fund recreation and saving for the future."

For some tips on how you can help support workers, check out our interview with Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice and some of her practical advice on how consumers can combat common employer abuses.

Flickr image cc by Caelie_Frampton