Fitted vs Flat: Housekeepers at Boston hotel celebrate safe bed making practices

loews-outside-2014Housekeepers at the Loews Boston Hotel are celebrating an agreement with the Back Bay hotel that will protect housekeepers’ bodies from pain and injury. The hotel brought in new mattresses to keep to industry standards, but heavier mattresses were a concern to housekeepers who have to lift them an estimated 150 times a day.

After experiencing back pain, they noticed that they were reporting more pain than previously. Housekeepers organized and bargained with the hotel, which agreed to change bed linens from flat to fitted sheets, provide tools, and to modify the procedures for tucking sheets under the heavy mattresses.

Washington Post: What a housekeeper at Harvard’s hotel tells us about inequality

“I see Harvard as a financial institution first, and they do some educational work on the side,” says Lang, of UNITE-HERE. “At least dealing with a private equity company, they’ll say it’s a matter of the bottom line.”

“They do whatever Harvard says, because Harvard is the big boss,” Lemus said. “So why they do this? They are hiding. They don’t want to show their face.”

DoubleTree Housekeepers Strike, Rally Attracts Hundreds

“Whenever I hear these workers’ stories, it’s kind of the same deal,” Osorio said over the beating drums and whistles of the rally. “Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to be a housekeeper and experience this pain, but I know what it’s like for their children and their families, and I don’t think anyone deserves that.”

Harvard Hotel Housekeepers on Strike Today in First Housekeeper Strike in Boston History

Housekeepers at the Harvard-owned Doubletree by Hilton Boston-Cambridge in Allston are on strike today. It is the first strike of housekeepers in Boston’s history.

Harvard housekeepers say they have confronted pain and sometimes life-altering injuries working at the hotel. They will speak at a public event with Harvard dining hall workers at 9:30am. Later, at 5:00pm, over 800 supporters from the Cambridge and Boston communities, including Harvard students, will join the housekeepers for a speak out.

Students and City Councilors Stand With Harvard DoubleTree Protestors Employees at the Harvard-owned DoubleTree Suites have picketed, protested, and demanded fair process for the past year and a half. This means that they would like to consider unionizing without losing their jobs. Hilton Hotels manages the property, and has refused to listen to workers’ petitions, employees say. DoubleTree employees have called on Harvard to intercede. The university essentially replied ‘thanks but no thanks’ in a letter last May, despite the fact that all hotel workers who have chosen to join a union in Boston or Cambridge since 1999 have used a similar process.