Working Girls Aren’t the Only Ones Suffering in Labor Dispute
Northeast Bronx Hot-Sheet Motel Battle Over Wages, Bedbugs, and Posting Pix on Internet
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 23- Workers continue to picket a local hot-sheet motel as a labor dispute will soon enter a fifth-month.
The 18 employees of the Capri Whitestone Hotel along the Hutchinson River Parkway near Ferry Point Park, have been demonstrating outside the hotel since early January after their contract expired.
Workers charge that on March 3, the owner slashed the housekeepers’ pay from $24.80 to $10.92 an hour and eliminated their health and retirement benefits.
(A hotel guest hides the face of his date as they arrive at the Capri Whitestone Hotel.--Photo courtesy of the New York Hotel and Motel Trade Council) The workers clean and maintain 95 rooms that can be rented for a 4-hour stay or by the night. Rooms can cost as little as $55 for a four-hour stay and as much as $120 per night.
With the blessing of organizers at the New York Hotel and Motel Trade Council, on March 20 union members began the unusual step of snapping photos of patrons who crossed their picket line and posting those pictures at the website www.Dontcrosstheline.com.
Fellow union members who have joined the picket line in solidarity with Capri Whitestone workers, are also armed with an air horn and bullhorn to disturb the peace and quiet that those who decided to cross the picket line, had sought.
The union has filed several grievances with the National Labor
Relations Board, including management cutting pay of unionized workers and workers charge-- are violating the National Labor Relations Act.
Those charges are still being investigated.
On April 9 an arbitrator ruled that management must protect workers with hazmat suits to protect them from a bedbug infestation at the hotel.
Workers claim that the bedbug outbreak was caused by management’s refusal of washing the bedspreads after every visit.
Room attendant Venus Burgos, a 12-year employee at the Capri Whitestone, said of her plight, "I'm a single mom. I have three kids to support. I've always known the most important things I can give me children are love and education."
Burgos added, "But with an almost $14 an hour wage cut and no medical, I'm not sure I can even pay for my rent, let alone my children’s education."
Workers and union officials say they are prepared to stick it out for as long as the battle takes.
Calls for comment from the management of the Capri Whitestone Hotel were not immediately returned.