Boycott the Hilton Anchorage!

Staff Say Hilton and Safety Agency Slow To Respond to Mold Concerns

As investigation continues, workers remain in the dark about mold

Boycott the Hilton Anchorage!Hotel workers wearing lab coats, rubber gloves, dust masks, and safety goggles demonstrated outside the Hilton Anchorage Wednesday afternoon to protest what they consider to be an insufficient response by the Hilton to their concerns about mold. Workers, through their union, also submitted a letter to the Hilton asking for an update on management’s own program to remediate mold and moisture in the hotel. 

Employees filed a state health and safety complaint in May alleging they worked around mold without adequate training or protective gear. Five months later, the state’s investigation is ongoing, but workers say the Hilton has still not provided the training and equipment they are seeking.

Ralliers asked guests to add their own observations of mold or moisture to help gather data for the state investigation.

In April 2014, some Hilton Anchorage employees reported symptoms they think may have been caused by working around mold at the hotel. The hotel reported May 6 that it had found mold or possible water damage in 48 guest rooms. At the time, the hotel advised workers to seek proper medical diagnosis and treatment if they have health concerns regarding mold exposure.

Hilton employees submitted a complaint on May 13 to the Alaska workplace safety administration alleging insufficient safety equipment, training, and knowledge of the issue to safeguard their health. The complaint remains under investigation. The Hilton has denied unsafe conditions.

The Hilton Anchorage has implemented what it calls an “aggressive” preventative maintenance program to address mold and moisture. Workers want to ensure that worker education and equipment are part of that program. Hilton documents show the hotel has been addressing leakage issues since 2012.

Senator Begich with Hilton employee Fale.

Hilton Anchorage Workers Demand Action on Workplace Health Investigation

Months after filing complaint and citing safety concerns, workers turn to Senator Begich 

Senator Begich with Hilton employee Fale.For Immediate Release: Friday, August 22, 2014

Workers at the Anchorage Hilton brought an atypical election-season issue to the attention of Senator Mark Begich as he visited their employee cafeteria Friday.

 A group of maids, bell hops, and other hotel workers are seeking resolution of a complaint they filed with the state’s workplace safety agency May 13.  In that complaint, workers alleged that they lacked adequate training and protective equipment when working around mold at the hotel. Some workers reported allergy-like and other symptoms that they were concerned may be related to mold.  

“No one should have to worry about their health when they come to work. I take these concerns very seriously,” said Senator Begich.

After the Anchorage Hilton reported on May 6 that it had found mold or possible water damage conducive to mold growth in 48 guest rooms, Hilton employees submitted a complaint on May 13 to the Alaska workplace safety administration, Occupational Safety and Health, alleging insufficient safety equipment, training, and knowledge of the issue to safeguard their health when they worked around mold.

More than 12 weeks after filing their state complaint, workers were frustrated with what they say is a slow response.

“We want Occupational Safety and Health to get documentation from the hotel of repair work they’ve done,” said Marvin Jones, President of UNITE HERE Local 878, the union that represents the majority of Hilton Anchorage employees. “We want them to interview the maintenance workers involved in repairs that are due to mold or moisture problems.” 

While the Anchorage Hilton has implemented what it calls an “aggressive” preventative maintenance program to address mold and moisture, workers want to ensure that proper training and protective equipment is included in that program. 

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UNITE HERE Local 878 represents 1,100 workers in the hospitality industries of Alaska.
Local 878 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service outlets, and laundries.

Mold photo courtesy of EPA

Alaska OSHA Inspectors Scrutinize Worker Exposure to Mold at Anchorage Hilton

Citing health concerns, workers turn to state regulator to assure the Hotel provides them proper training and equipment

The Hilton Anchorage Hotel was the site of an inspection on Monday June 23 by the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Department (AKOSH) to investigate a complaint by Hilton workers who allege that they have been exposed to mold at the Hotel without adequate training and protective equipment. 

On April 4, 2014, the Hilton identified three strains of mold in three out-of-service guest rooms:  aspergillus/penicillium; chaetomium; and ulocladium.  All three grow on materials such as damp sheetrock and wallboard.  Leaking pipes was identified as the source of the moisture. 

During the spring, the Hilton conducted air sampling on various guest rooms.  On April 1, the Hilton found that one room had a total mold spore/fragment count of 3,800 per cubic meter.  On April 25, the Hilton found that a different room had a total mold spore/fragment count of 1,800 per cubic meter.  Both of these rooms were closed to the public while the mold was being remediated. 

Some workers have reported to management allergy-like and other symptoms that they are concerned are a consequence of exposure to mold in areas where they work.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that:  “Some people are sensitive to molds.  For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.  Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions.”   

Workers want AKOSH to ensure that they are not exposed to unsafe conditions and that they receive adequate protective equipment and training when they work around mold.  On April 15, UNITE HERE Local 878 requested the Hilton to describe all training and protective equipment that the Hotel has provided to these employees, but the Hotel did not provide that information. 

On April 25, Hilton reported that it had found 29 rooms with “possible mold issues” and on May 6, it reported that 48 rooms had the “possibility of water damage,” which it reported it had either repaired or was working on as of that time.  The Hotel has implemented what it calls “an aggressive preventative maintenance program for all guest rooms to ensure there are not unsafe levels of mold.”  It has denied that its employees are exposed to unsafe conditions.       

If AKOSH determines that the Hilton has violated any worker safety regulations, it will issue a citation.  The Hilton will have the opportunity to contest it.  There has been no determination of wrongdoing to date. 

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KENTUCKY-BASED COLUMBIA SUSSEX CONTINUES TO HURT ALASKA WORKING FAMILIES

For Immediate Release: June 5, 2013

KENTUCKY-BASED COLUMBIA SUSSEX CONTINUES TO HURT ALASKA WORKING FAMILIES

Monday June 3rd Alaskan workers of the Anchorage Hilton met with management and representatives of the Kentucky-based Corporation, Columbia Sussex, who owns the hotel. For five years workers have been fighting for affordable healthcare, safe workloads, job security protections, and reasonable wage increases in the face of out-of-state corporate employers. At Monday’s meeting the corporation again insulted Anchorage workers and refused to provide workers a wage increase for the fifth year in a row.

The Anchorage Hilton at one time was locally owned and was a cornerstone in the Community. It was a place where workers were treated with dignity and respect. Once upon a time, for 30 years, the Hilton was good to its workers and helped make and keep Anchorage a vibrant community. That all changed when Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex bought the hotel and has been driving down Alaskan families and their ability to survive in our great State.

Columbia Sussex, owned by William J. Young III, continues to hurt Alaska middle class families by imposing unsafe workloads on workers at the Anchorage Hilton, especially in housekeeping; a profession with higher injury rates than coal miners. Cuts to healthcare coverage of workers and increasing employee contributions further burdens Alaska workers. This five year wage increase refusal is yet another blow to Alaskan workers and their ability to provide for their families.

Anchorage Hilton workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 878, have been attempting to negotiate with their employer, Columbia Sussex, since July of 2008. These Alaskan workers have simply been asking to maintain the same working conditions and benefits listed in their long expired contract which guaranteed safe workloads, job security protections, regular wage increases, and affordable family medical insurance. In May of 2009, Hilton workers overwhelmingly voted to place a boycott on their hotel.  Workers are asking potential guests, and fellow Alaskans, to support their fight by not eating, sleeping, or attending meetings/events the outside-owned Anchorage Hilton until the boycott is over.

Outside the Sheraton

Federal Labor Board Rules for Sheraton Anchorage Hotel Union

The National Labor Relations Board has largely sided with union workers at a Downtown Anchorage hotel in a long-running labor dispute, ordering its Texas-based management company to implement a series of reforms.

According to a 74-page Wednesday decision posted on the NLRB’s website (PDF), the board has decided to uphold administrative law judge Gregory Meyerson’s August 2011 findings that Sheraton Anchorage Hotel owners Remington Lodging and Hospitality unfairly infringed on the rights of UNITE HERE Local 878 members…

Read Full Story at:

http://www.ktuu.com/news/federal-labor-board-rules-for-sheraton-anchorage-hotel-union-043013,0,969079.story

National Labor Relations Board finds overwhelming merit to federal charges brought against Sheraton Anchorage

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2013

On April 24, 2013, the three-person Board that governs the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, the federal labor law that governs most private-sector workers, issued its Decision and Order in a federal case brought by that agency against Texas-based Remington Lodging & Hospitality (“Remington”), the corporation that operates the Sheraton Hotel & Spa in Anchorage. The case stems from a long-running dispute between the Sheraton and its workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 878.

In its ruling, the NLRB found that that Remington has committed numerous unfair labor practices against both the union and its workers, including (but not limited to) (1) in October of 2009, unlawfully imposing new requirements that housekeepers clean 17 rooms per shift, that employees clock in and out for lunch, and that employees who eat the food prepared in the cafeteria pay $1 for the meal; (2) in May of 2010, unlawfully taking away from the workers the Union health benefits plan; (3) unlawfully firing four workers and unlawfully disciplining many others for engaging in activities in support of their union; (4) maintaining and enforcing eight unlawful rules in its employee handbook; and (5) unlawfully withdrawing recognition from the Union as the bargaining representative of the workers based on signatures on a petition that Remington unlawfully obtained through threats and promises.

Remington now has to make all of the workers whole for all wages, benefits, and health care costs they lost or incurred as a result of these unlawful acts, plus interest, and (upon the Union’s request) return to the bargaining table and negotiate a new labor agreement with the Union.

Since 2009, Sheraton workers have been struggling to protect their benefits, their working conditions and their union from the employer’s egregious assaults.  To date, this high-profile labor dispute has been marked by the filing of over 40 unfair labor practice charges, two lengthy NLRB hearings (the first one of which has just resulted in the Decision and Order discussed above), with a third hearing scheduled for mid-July, two meritless federal lawsuits filed by the hotel (one against the Union, one against the NLRB itself), an ongoing boycott, frequent picket lines and an overwhelming amount of Anchorage community support. While workers are pleased with this new Board ruling in their favor, they want to remind the public that their struggle is not over and that they continue to ask the community to boycott the Sheraton until the dispute is resolved.

A copy of the complete text of the Decision and Order in this case, Remington Lodging & Hospitality, LLC, d/b/a The Sheraton Anchorage v. UNITE HERE! Local 878, AFL-CIO, 359 NLRB No. 95 (2013), can be found on-line at http://www.nlrb.gov/cases-decisions/board-decisions.

Sheraton workers demand NO MORE APPEALS!!

Anchorage Sheraton workers and Community supporters delivered a petition to Anchorage Sheraton Management, insisting the Texas-based Corporation Ashford/Remington who owns/manages the hotel to stop appealing NLRB court rulings  ‘on behalf of Anchorage workers’.

Break the RAT Rally!!!

 

Workers of the Sheraton Anchorage hotel line up to take a swing at the Remington rat.

“Thank you for joining us today in front of the rat, Remington, as we continue the good fight on behalf of the employees of this hotel and ALL Alaskans. We are making a difference, demanding fairness and respect in the workplace.

Please continue with the message and let our voices be heard. One day we will stand here united with a signed contract.

Until then, Remington knows, ‘We will be back!'”

-Fay – Sheraton Banquet Server since 1988

"We will not be defeated! We will fight one day longer! We will break the rat!"

 

And the rat did break that day, full money owed and empty promises. It stood no chance against united Alaskan workers.

Light the Night for Workers Rights Vigil

“We call upon this place of business to repent and be redeemed, to turn from selfish and greedy ways to a way of business that benefits all – guests, workers, managers, corporate executives and investors.

I stand and speak to remind us all that the choices we make and the actions we take in this life, on this earth, are of ultimate concern.  The way we live—as individuals, families, businesses, societies and nations—matters to God.  God cares.  God cares, intensely, about justice and righteousness in the workplace.  God judges the unjust; God judges the greedy corporate executives and business managers who treat their employees unjustly.  The Word of God calls out:

Do not heap up for yourselves piles of profits to satisfy your greed; rather, hear and heed
the voice of the prophets who speak the truth of God’s reign of justice for all.

We call upon this place of business to repent and be redeemed, to turn from selfish and greedy ways to a way of business that benefits all –investors, corporate executives, managers, workers, and guests.”  – Pastor Petersen at the boycott Hilton vigil

 

Over 50 community members, lit the street by candlelight, and endured single digit temps & biting wind to show support for good jobs in Alaska, Alaska workers & Alaska job standards.

“A Thousand candles can be lit from a single candle. The life of the candle will never be shorted by sharing its light."

 

A delegation of Anchorage housekeepers, community leaders and supporters move inside the Hilton hotel to deliver a letter about respecting Alaska job standards & treating Alaska workers with dignity and respect.