Hotel Workers Speak Out Against “Un Troussage De Domestique”

Having been involved in the Hyatt boycott here in Chicago, I’m familiar with the hotel chain’s increasingly abysmal record on worker safety. Now I’m learning that the issue of sexual assault against hotel workers in general has long been a serious problem, long predating the current unpleasantness with Dominique Strauss-Kahn:

On June 2, hotel workers held speak-outs on sexual harassment and assault by customers in eight cities. The events were organized by UNITE HERE, the hotel union.

“These customers think they can use us for anything they want, because we don’t have the power that they have or the money that they have,” said Yazmin Vazquez, a Chicago room attendant.

Hotel workers face injuries from the physical stress of their work, including the awkward lifting of heavy mattresses hundreds of times a day. But the hidden hazard of hotel work, housekeepers say, is customers’ assaults on their dignity and physical integrity.

Workers report that male customers expose themselves, attempt to buy sexual services, grab and grope them and, in some cases, attempt to rape them…

The management response has been “deafening silence,” (said Annemarie Strassel of UNITE HERE), adding that she’s aware of only one hotel in which a staff meeting was called around the issue.

(h/t: Susan Klonsky)

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