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The PJ Tatler

by
Clarice Feldman

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July 2, 2011 - 8:50 am

The NY Post article discussed here indicates the maid who accused Srauss-Kahn of rape was part of a prostitution/illegal immigrant ring in which the union which placed members at the Sofitel was intimately (pardon the expression) involved. I assume that union is the New York Hotel Workers’ Union, which makes this editorial  titled ” New York is the wrong place to prey on hotel workers..” on their website too rich in irony.

Here’s a sample:

The management philosophy in this luxury service business expects employees to behave with extreme servility toward customers (“guests”). The watchword, “the customer is always right,” strongly influences the industry, at least in its attitude toward employees. This encourages an atmosphere in which workers are often virtually invisible to the public, except perhaps to some who see them as easy prey.

“Hospitality” companies, with the help of the politicians, lawyers, and publicists who serve them, work hard to keep employees stooped and subservient, while the industry’s public image sparkles.

These conditions exist all over the world, except in certain enclaves, like most of the hotel industry (but, unfortunately not most of the restaurant industry) in New York City, and portions of some of the other largest hotel markets in North America. That is because those are the places where hotel workers have strong unions. Even in Europe, most hotel workers do not.

In the worldwide hotel industry, New York City has the highest proportion of unionization (75%), and hotel employees here have the strongest union with the best contract. They enjoy the highest wages in the industry, excellent benefits, strong job security, good working conditions, and powerful grievance rights. They also have a militant union – their own organization, governed and funded not by wealthy donors but by themselves – that aggressively enforces those rights.

As a result, this island enclave is one of the only places on earth where most hotel workers are not afraid to speak up and demand justice.

Update: And don’t forget the union rallies in NY and elsewhere protesting after DSK’s arrest the sexual exploitation of hotel workers.

NEW YORK (PAI)—“There once was a union maid, who never was afraid,” begins the old song about activist union women. Well, members of Unite Here – real union maids – were not afraid when they spoke up the week of June 6-11 against sexual exploitation of maids and other hotel workers by hotel guests.

The immediate trigger for their campaign, Unite Here reported, was the June 6 arraignment in New York’s municipal court of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the multimillionaire former CEO of the International Monetary Fund.

Strauss-Kahn was charged with forcible rape, sexual abuse, forcible touching and unlawful imprisonment, among other counts. He forced the 32-year-old housekeeper/chambermaid at the fancy Sofitel in Manhattan to have oral sex and kept her in the suite until she yielded to his demands.

The arraignment brought more than 125 workers – union chambermaids in black-and-white uniforms led by New York hotel workers union leader Peter Ward — to protest in front of the courthouse. More would have come, but Unite Here’s buses were full.

“We expect equal justice for all, regardless of race, class, or wealth,” said Doris Kodie Osei, of the Pierre. Vivienne Morgan, from the Helmsley New York, added: “Here in New York, hotel workers stand up, stick together, and speak out, and we will not be silently victimized by anybody.”

Update 2 on the Union workers solidarity demos when DSK was arraigned.

Clarice Feldman is a retired litigation lawyer who lives in D.C. She's a news junkie addicted to the internet.
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