We’re all in this bed together
About once a month, I travel for my job. Most of the time, I stay in places that're one or two steps above a Motel 6, but about two or three times a year, I'm lucky enough to get put up in a really nice hotel. You know, the kind of place where you can't find the hair dryer right away. Or it takes you a while to figure out how to turn the shower on. The kind of place with a flat screen tv and free wireless internet access, and lavender spray for the pillows.
I had such an opportunity last week, and it reminded me of something I've been meaning to blog about, a campaign that the hotel workers' union is running called Hotel Workers Rising. You may have seen something about their campaign kickoff, a tour that featured Danny Glover and John Edwards.
One of the best things about those luxury rooms, of course are the beds. Beds with five and six pillows, with 300-thread-count sheets, with heavy duvets. The union's campaign is focusing on those beds, because while the beds (and the rooms) have become more and more luxurious, the housekeeping staff hasn't had an easy time of it. The housekeepers who have to make these beds still have the same number of rooms to clean, but the work of cleaning them has gotten much more complicated. The bedding is much heavier, and the mattresses are hard to lift. Housekeepers suffer a higher than average rate of work-related-injury, because they're trying to do more work in the same amount of time.
The hotel workers' union, UNITE HERE!, isn't trying to get rid of the beds, but they are trying to make the jobs better for the housekeepers. That involves not only increasing the wages, but also making sure that they are able to work safely. They want ergonomic training, and a reduction of the quota of rooms, so that the housekeepers aren't rushing to get their jobs done, resulting in more injuries. The industry is experiencing record profits, they've bounced back after the losses of 9/11, but the staffing levels in the hotels haven't come back.
This is a women's issue, it's a mom's issue. We all know what it's like to have too much to clean, to be constantly rushing to get everything done. Every mother (and I assume every father) who reads this blog, whether she's a working mom or a SAHM, understands that struggle. Check out the website. Sign up for their email list. And most of all, when you're planning your summer vacation in the U.S. or Canada, don't stay at a hotel on their boycott list (or as they put it on their site, "Sleep with the Right People").