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  • Claudia’s Law Aimed At Ending Inhumane Workloads, Harassment Of Long Beach Hotel Workers
    Posted On: Sep 06, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, September 6, 2016:

    Faced with monumental workloads and frequent sexual harassment in the workplace, hotel workers and their allies in Long Beach, California are pushing for a measure which would address several workplace issues in the city’s booming hotel industry. Activists launched a campaign this week to advance the measure, dubbed “Claudia’s Law”.  Tonia Reyes Uranga is on the steering-committee of the Coalition for Good Jobs and Healthy Community:

    [Tonia Reyes Uranga]: “Claudia Sanchez was a dish washer at the Renaissance Hotel.  She was, I think, at that time, only nineteen years old.  After a fourteen-hour shift, she collapsed.  She had some heavy workloads all through her time at the Renaissance and…she was in a coma, she was rushed to the hospital…and consequently she’s going to need some assistance and support for the rest of her life.”

    Long Beach is a tourist city located between Disneyland and Downtown Los Angeles.  Reyes Uranga says the hotel industry has been growing rapidly over the last sixteen years while the number of workers per hotel has dropped:

    [Tonia Reyes Uranga]: “Really what that means is we have workers who are having increased workloads, leaving them exhausted and often results in them having to work through their legal breaks in order to meet their room quotas.  Especially the housekeepers, who sometimes have to work overtime or come in early just to meet those quotas.  We have this boom in hotels, but yet it’s on the backs of the workers, and it’s just leaving them exhausted and often times, in the case of Claudia, it’s leaving them affected for the rest of their lives.  You know, they’re breaking them.  They’re breaking them, and they need support.”

    With the vast majority of the housekeeping workforce composed of immigrant women, another focus of Claudia’s law is efforts to prevent sexual abuse and harassment:

    [Tonia Reyes Uranga]: “We have close to 68, 70 percent of the assaults go unreported.  That’s not unlike college campuses or other places, but because of this particular workforce, they don’t know that they can report it, that they should report it and that the hotels should do something about it, and we have some horrific stories about what’s happened to these women.”

    These aren’t the only issues facing hotel industry workers in Long Beach:

    [Tonia Reyes Uranga]: “There’s some instances where the housekeepers have to bring in their own supplies, where they have to go early and stock their cart before they actually can check in, which really in a sense to me is wage theft.  It’s crazy.  So, it’s a backwards industry that needs to come up to the times and, unfortunately, the people who suffer the most are the housekeepers who really need the money.”

    While Claudia’s law wouldn’t address all of these issues, it does take significant steps to improve the lives of hotel workers, including making the workload more reasonable and humane and efforts such as portable panic-buttons to help prevent abuse and harassment:

    [Tonia Reyes Uranga]: “You should have breaks, you should be able to say ‘I can’t work overtime’ without repercussions or fear of losing your job, you should be able to be on the job without being harassed sexually, and you should be able to get support on the job when you are.  It’s really imperative that we treat our workers with dignity and respect.”

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