Hotel workers protest unsafe work conditions in Center City hotel

A small number of hotel workers gathered to make their voices heard in Center City Wednesday. They say they’re scared at work. They say not enough is being done to protect them from CVOID-19.

The hotel union workers gathered outside Philadelphia’s Sheraton Downtown holding up one letter each, spelling out the word “UNSAFE.”

“The sign speaks for itself,” said Tenekia Rollins.

Rollins is speaking, she says, for many more. She’s been working in housekeeping and food service at the Sheraton and other Philadelphia hotels more than 20 years.

Union members who took pictures over the weekend say they’re just small example of why, they claim, they’re not safe from hotel guests, especially now with the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re hanging out like it’s a club. Traffic in and out. Nobody’s wearing masks. At all,” Rollins explained.

“Have you guys complained to management?” asked FOX 29’s Joyce Evans.

“Yes. You see where we’re at right now, right?” replied Rollins.

Local hotel industry representatives, who would not go on camera, explain hotels that are operating are struggling to survive at less than a quarter occupancy. Virtually no business travelers. No conventions in town. Big events canceled for months and way fewer families are checking in to see the sights, with all the COVID-19 in place.

But, Unite Here Local 274 says that’s no excuse for not enforcing the rules and protecting workers. Only 200 of nearly 1,000 members in the Philadelphia region are on the job.

“The Governor’s order requires additional cleaning and that’s not what’s happening,” Katherine Cristani, Executive VP Unite Here Local 274, said. “They’re not able to complete their normal tasks – keeping rooms clean – and do sanitizing required to keep the public safe in the same amount of time. It’s just not possible.”

“I don’t see this getting any better. I see it getting worse. Sometimes, I’m scared to come to work. But, I have to feed my kids. Have to keep a roof over their heads,” Rollins added.