New ordinance brands hotel mold a public nuisance
ANCHORAGE, Alaska–UNITE HERE reminds hotel operators that a new city ordinance takes effect today that classifies hotel rooms with significant visible mold as a public nuisance. (Click here to read the full ordinance.)
The ordinance passed the Anchorage Assembly unanimously last month. Alaska’s climate can make buildings more susceptible to developing mold.
“Visitors spend over $798 million annually in Southcentral Alaska,” said Assemblymember Eric Croft, who sponsored the ordinance. “Hotels are one of our most important resources to get visitors to stay in Anchorage and keep them coming back.”
Marvin Jones, president of UNITE HERE Local 878, said the city’s hotel worker union supports the ordinance because it “protects local Alaskans who use the city’s hotels for meetings and special events, and helps ensure the success and sustained growth of the industry on which our livelihoods depend.”
The ordinance empowers the Municipality to protect the public’s health from mold using a complaint-driven process. This includes applying public building enforcement standards, assigning fees, ordering inspections, or issuing emergency orders. The Municipality will be able to order the removal of mold and the repair of sources of moisture and issue warnings or fines for initial violations. Hotels may be forced to stop operating if they continue to receive subsequent violations and fail to respond adequately.
According to the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, “It is safest to treat any indoor mold growth as a ‘potential health hazard’ that needs to be corrected. Molds should be removed and the moisture problem that led to mold growth should be fixed.”
The ordinance includes whistleblower protections for individuals who report mold, like hotel guests and hotel workers. Such protections may not have come soon enough for one employee at the Hilton Anchorage. One day before the ordinance passed, Norberto “Bill” Rosario was let go from his job of 10 years after he took pictures of mold in guest rooms and showed those pictures to his union. UNITE HERE Local 878 has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board demanding Mr. Rosario be reinstated with full back pay and benefits.
The public can report significant visible mold in public accommodations at www.muni.org/mold.