As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Hotel Workers’ Union Offers Meeting Planners Resources to Book Events Safely

July 2020

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Hotel Workers’ Union Offers Meeting Planners Resources to Book Events Safely

Union Will Consult with Meeting Planners on Sample Contract Language and Resources to Demand Safe Events

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout North America, the dangers to travelers and hospitality workers are coming to the surface. Through the “Clean Hospitality Checklist,” UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union in the U.S. and Canada, is actively working to help meeting and event planners secure strong safety protections during booking. Hotel workers said that being proactive and securing health and safety language in future contracts is essential to keeping events safe amidst the pandemic and will make the industry safer as a whole.

Event planners looking towards planning and negotiating events, whether a month or a year from now, need to take steps to ensure clients are protected, guests are protected, and that the workers who serve them are protected as well. Hotels are operating even though the number of positive cases continue to rise. In these dangerous conditions, flexibility may be a critical component of everyone’s safety, yet one major hotel owner raked in $32 million in cancellation fees from cancelled events and conferences so far in 2020. 

UNITE HERE asserted that the hospitality industry could both recover from the pandemic more quickly and protect workers and guests by embracing strong safety standards including cleaning, COVID-19 testing, and swift response to suspected outbreaks.

The union maintains a website for hotel guests and event planners, www.FairHotel.org, which was updated today to include:

  • The UNITE HERE Clean Hospitality Checklist, a set of five safety and cleanliness guidelines to ensure a baseline level of safety measures that all hotels should follow. They are:
  1. More frequent cleaning and disinfection, including daily hotel housekeeping;
  2. Personal protective equipment and social distancing for both workers and guests;
  3. COVID-19 testing and screening protocols to prevent illness;
  4. Rapid response to any suspected outbreak;
  5. No retaliation against workers who speak out about safety
  • Clean Hospitality Event Contract language to require safety measures at your event (available here)
  • Clean Hospitality Customer Survey with sample language for event attendees to reports safety concerns to allow planners to enforce contract language during and after the event
  • Important developments in hospitality industry reopening

Rachelle Grant, Director of Meetings and Travel at the AFL-CIO, said, “The well-being of attendees is of primary importance for every event that I plan. Safety regulations differ everywhere, adding complexity to the work of event industry professionals. I’m grateful that the hotel workers union is partnering with meeting planners and customers so we can travel and meet safely. One way of leading the conversation with partners and providers is to add a clause regarding strong safety and cleaning procedures into event contracts, before booking, to ensure safety is prioritized during events.”

UNITE HERE Customer Outreach Director Carrie Sallgren said, “As a union of frontline workers, we believe that what is safest for hospitality workers is also what’s best for customers. We want to work with meeting and event planners in making sure that the hotels they work with are safe for all.”

Over 98% of UNITE HERE’s 300,000 members were unemployed due to COVID-19, and many are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic due to health disparities caused by systemic racism, as reported by the CDC.

Contact: Meghan Cohorst, [email protected], 239-503-1533.

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UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents over 300,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada.