Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s gonna be a long, long, long strike

It never fails to amaze me the degree to which some people have no respect for those individuals amongst us who actually have to work for a living. 
Picketers could be in for a long-drawn-out dispute over insurance benefits for hotel workers. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
As in doing forms of labor that are tiring, grueling and are the kind of jobs that nobody really willingly takes on for themselves.

I’M REFERRING TO the people who are part of the UNITE HERE Local 1, the union the represents hotel workers at various establishments around Chicago.

They’re the ones who have been picketing for the past 10 days outside all of the upper-crust hotels, trying to make a nuisance of themselves in hopes that they’ll shame the hotel owners into meeting their demands.

Yet I get a sense from the complaints I have been reading in recent days that most people who stay at those hotels are going to be merely appalled by whatever amenities are being tampered with as a result of the striking workers.

Heaven forbid that some hotel patron who was too lazy to go outside missed a meal because they couldn’t get room service. Or that someone had to wait a little while longer while checking in to their hotel because the short-staffed businesses are behind on having their rooms ready for them.

YOU’D THINK HOTEL management would see the activity of the past week-and-a-half and come to the realization that their staffs are essential parts of being able to provide the quality of service they think they offer – and ought to be offering for the absurd rates they often charge for a room there.

Instead, they’re more than willing to try to shift blame to those workers for not doing work.
Did any of these people care at all about the picketing taking place just blocks away?
Which may be appropriate since we’re now in an Age of Trump, with a president who made his personal fortune by building all those allegedly-upscale hotels that egotistically bear his name.

I don't doubt that Donald Trump himself views the staffs of all his Trump Hotels as being totally-replaceable minions who ought to be grateful to wear work uniforms bearing the “T” (for Trump) and think their affiliation (no matter how superficial) with his name is compensation enough for their grueling labor.

I FULLY EXPECT it’s just a matter of time before the public turns on those hotel workers who are now making a racket outside the so-called elite hotels.

Just as how whenever the issue of the minimum wage and the notion of raising it to $15 per hour comes up, some people are quick to go on rants about the unmitigated gall those people have thinking their labor ought to be compensated appropriately.

We’ll also hear arguments made about how keeping employee wages and other compensation is absolutely essential to maintaining the current status of the economy. Almost as though they think underpaying the hired help is essential to preserving the “American Way” of life.

Personally, I’ve always felt companies that manage to keep their employees satisfied are the ones that have the most productive workforces – and often have people wanting to work for them.

NO COMPANY THAT thinks its workers ought to be thankful anybody bothers to employ them in any capacity is going to achieve much in the way of success. Of course, their management later will “blame the workers” for not properly producing.
What if Trump workers tried striking?

Part of the reason I can sympathize with these hotel workers is because this particular strike isn’t about salaries (although I’m sure they wouldn’t object to a raise). It’s about health insurance – as in many of these hotel companies like to lay off staff during the winter months, which results in them losing health coverage.

You’d think that management would want to have a healthy workforce. At the very least, they wouldn’t want to encourage concepts that their workers could be carrying something that could be passed on to their customers.

And in the end, it’s the notion of serving those customers properly that is the reason those hotels are in business to begin with. Particularly at a place like the Palmer House hotel downtown – where the absolute cheapest room one can get there is $169 per night. Because if one is just looking for a night’s sleep that isn’t on a park bench, there’s always Motel 6.


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