UNITE HERE Local 26 Guidelines to Reopening the Hotel Industry

 

REGARDING THE REOPENING OF THE BOSTON HOTEL INDUSTRY

Carlos Aramayo, President, UNITE HERE Local 26

 

The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted UNITE HERE Local 26’s members and their families. As the union representing over 12,000 mostly black and brown members in the hospitality industry, we have suffered the human and financial costs of this pandemic. Almost all of our members are laid off from their jobs at the city’s hotels, universities, airport, and casino. The few members who are still at work face a dangerous environment on the front lines, with dozens becoming ill and at least one having died.

As the hotel industry contemplates reopening in Boston, UNITE HERE Local 26 believes the lives of our members, their families, and the public are more valuable than the bottom line of hotel owners. Today, in line with this conviction, we are issuing three principles for reopening. They are:

  • No hotel should call employees back to work until Governor Baker rescinds COVID-19 Order No. 13 and No. 21 as they relate to hotels;
  • To protect workers and family members who are vulnerable to the virus, and to ensure that they do not have to choose between their health and the unemployment benefits they are receiving, no worker should be forced to return to work until the Massachusetts State of Emergency is lifted, and;
  • Hotels must meet UNITE HERE Local 26’s COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Standards to protect the public from this virus.

The Boston hotel industry is not capable of policing itself during this crisis. The Biogen conference at the Marriott Long Wharf contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in Boston and across the United States. Despite this, some hotels remained open weeks after known Covid-19 positive guests stayed at their properties. Only the shut-down interventions by Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker prevented many more of our family members from getting sick. Now, as the industry contemplates returning to work, we need to put the health of our members, families, and the travelling public ahead of corporate profits.

By following these standards, we can protect our members’ and the public’s health and begin the process of reopening our economy.

 

UNITE HERE LOCAL 26 COVID-19 HEALTH AND SAFETY STANDARDS

Cleaning standards – Each hotel shall establish, implement, and maintain written cleaning standards designed to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.  The standards shall provide for disinfection of porous and non-porous materials using appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2. Standards should include but not be limited to:

(1). High-contact Public Areas – areas such as door and door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, countertops, furniture, ice and vending machines should be cleaned after every guest use.

(2). Guest rooms – All surfaces in guest rooms shall be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis. In order to ensure thorough cleaning of guest rooms operators should provide ample time for room cleaners to clean each room and should not offer any incentive to any guest for declining guest room cleaning per World Health Organization guidance.

(3). Front desk – Plexiglass shields or other appropriate barriers shall be installed at the front desk in order physically to separate guests and employees.

 

Controls for preventing transmission of SARS-CoV

(1). Employees and guests remain at least six feet apart from other employees and guests while performing their assigned work and during breaks.  In no event shall any employee be required to work within six feet of, or in the same guest room as, any guest.

(2). Paid handwashing breaks shall be scheduled for employees at least every hour at a washing facility supplied with soap.  At other times, employees shall have access to hand sanitizer in proximity to their work area such that they do not have to interrupt their normal duties to access it.

(3). N-95 masks and latex gloves masks shall be provided to employees, at no cost to the employee. N-95 and latex gloves shall be made available to guests.

(4). Time-keeping mechanisms shall not require a direct contact between an employee and the mechanism, such as finger swipe identification systems.

(5). Employees scheduled in teams that will operate separately from each other, without any shift overlap.  Once assigned to a team, the hotel shall not switch employees to a different team or shift.

(6). Any employee shall receive paid time to undergo testing. Any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 shall be entitled to take an additional 24 days off with pay.

 

No Retaliation – No person shall discharge, reduce in compensation, increase workload, impose fees or charges, change duties or otherwise take adverse action against any employee for following any practice proscribed here

 

Training – All employees shall receive training in the above

Donate to Support Boston and Rhode Island Hospitality Workers During COVID-19

The COVID–19 pandemic is hitting hospitality workers especially hard. As business pauses in sports and event venues, airports, hotels, universities, and convention centers, working families are facing layoffs and uncertainty. You can help by making a donation today.

Funds are used to help hospitality workers:

  • maintain family health insurance coverage during layoffs or reduced hours
  • pay for food, rent, and utilities
  • replace wages lost due to reduced hours and tips
  • retrain for new jobs during the business downturn

Recent Local 26 Victories

Local 26 COVID-19 Crisis Hotline is Up and Running

Local 26 members can call 339-215-3579 to receive support with applying for unemployment or other state aid. Other resources are also available at https://www.local26.org/2020/03/covid-19-resources/.

MIT, Tufts, and Harvard Agree to Pay Dining Hall Workers during COVID-19 Crisis

Red Sox include Fenway Concessions Workers in Support Package

RAFT Program

The RAFT program can be of help in paying rent, moving costs or utilities and just got a $5 million infusion from the state. To access it call 1-800-224-5124

Here is more info:

RAFT offers flexible financial assistance designed to meet each family’s particular needs. Eligible uses include:

  • moving cost assistance
  • rent and utility arrears
  • rental stipends
  • utility bills.
  • helps families who must move but do not have enough money to pay a security deposit, utility startup costs, or first/last month’s rent, and furniture (no more than $1000 of the family’s can be paid for furniture).
  • Families cannot get more than $4000 within a 12-month period.

Who is eligible for RAFT?

To be eligible for RAFT:

  • A family must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
  • The household must be income eligible using the following guideline:
    • Not less than 50 percent of the funding will be available for families with an income at or below 30% of Area Media Income (AMI), and a maximum of 50 percent for families between 30-50% AMI.
  • Meet the basic criteria of an assessment targeting tool (RAFT Screen) developed by DHCD.
    • Agency staff are allowed flexibility in applying the tool to determine eligibility.
  • The RAFT eligibility process will consider the reasons for which someone is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, including:
    • loss of income
    • and increased expenses for those with incomes between 30 and 50 percent of AMI

In addition:

  • A family must show that RAFT assistance will stabilize the current housing situation. This means a household must have enough income after receiving RAFT to be able to stay in their current housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid homelessness.

How can RAFT be accessed?

Completing a Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) Intake Assessment is the first step to accessing RAFT. Any family can walk into or call the HCEC Resource Center to complete the Intake Assessment form. Agencies do not require an in-person appointment to complete an intake assessment but will be available if a family requires in-person assistance to complete it.

When you apply, you will need:

  • Identification such as a driver’s license, other picture ID, or MassHealth card
  • Proof of current income for all adult household members (pay stubs, TAFDC or EAEDC award letters, proof of unemployment or child support payments, Social Security Income SSI statement, etc.)

Additionally, you may need:

  • A copy of your lease
  • Proof that you need help and the amount of money you need (eviction notice, utility shutoff notice, overdue utility bills, rental startup costs, etc.)
  • A participation agreement from your landlord, if you are a renter who is using RAFT to pay for back rent, first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, or monthly rent stipend.

Families should be informed that there may be up to a couple of weeks delay in arranging an appointment or reviewing an intake depending on the volume of families seeking assistance.

After the family has completed the HCEC Intake Assessment HCEC staff will review it to determine individual needs and resources.

About the RAFT Screen (the tool DHCD uses to determine eligibility)

The RAFT screen has three parts:

  • Part I asks only about the triggering event/housing crisis for which a family is seeking RAFT assistance.
  • Part II asks about income, and
  • Part III asks a series of questions that describe the level of risk for each family.

Part I and Part II do not have points attached to the questions, whereas Part III does. A family must be eligible through all parts of the Screen (I, II, and III) in order to qualify for RAFT. If a family does not meet any criteria in Part I or Part II they will not need to complete Part III.  DHCD anticipates that most families referred to RAFT will pass Parts I and II, but that some families will not be prioritized or determined eligible for RAFT based on Part III.

Frequently Ask Questions about RAFT

  • How long does this benefit last?
    • The timing and use of the benefit may vary but cannot exceed 12 months from the first payment.
  • Can a family living in an EA Shelter be eligible for RAFT?
    • No, RAFT is a homelessness prevention program.
  • What is the deadline to use RAFT once I apply?
    • The first payment of the benefit must be used within 60 days of being determined eligible unless there is a documented administrative delay or extenuating circumstances.
  • What happens if a family receives $4,000 through RAFT but ends up homeless again within 12 months, are they eligible for more money?
    • No, they cannot receive additional RAFT support for 12 months from the date of the first payment they received.  If they are at risk of homelessness, we ask that you refer them to other community resources. The family may, however, apply for Emergency Assistance.
  • If there is new information or the family’s circumstances change, may they re-apply for RAFT?
    • A family may reapply for RAFT after 30 days if they were determined ineligible. If there are new circumstances or new information, they can contact their local Home Consumer Education Center.
  • Can a person use RAFT to move out-of-state?
    • Yes, but only for moving expenses and start-up costs.  No ongoing funds (rent stipends, childcare payments, etc.) can be paid through this program.
  • Can a person who has a Section 8 and is moving from one unit to another unit receive RAFT?
    • Only if they are being evicted and have a “Writ of Summary Process”.  DHCD does not provide relocation money for families who are already in the Section 8 program.

COVID-19 Resources

MASSACHUSETTS RESOURCES AS OF MAY 1, 2020

 

General Assistance Updates: For general public assistance questions call 211

 

Unemployment Updates: 

To apply for unemployment go here: https://www.mass.gov/guides/what-to-do-if-youve-become-unemployed-in-massachusetts and if you need help here is a handbook: https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-unemployment-handbook-initial-claims-filed-on-or-after-march-15-2020/download New regulations loosen the 1 week waiting period and “work search” requirements. If you have questions about these or other changes, call 617-626-6422

Spanish language unemployment website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/informacion-de-desempleo-de-massachusetts-sobre-el-virus-covid-19

 

FOOD ASSISTANCE:

  1. Apply for SNAP/Food stamps. (877) 382-2363 or go online https://www.mass.gov/snap-benefits-food-stamps
  2. Look for a food resource in your neighborhood at the City of Boston Food Map: City food https://www.boston.gov/departments/food-access#food-resources-maps
    1. Healthy Incentives Program earn money when buying healthy food
    2.  WIC: https://www.mass.gov/wic-information-for-participants
    3. Find a food bank: https://www.gbfb.org/need-food

Boston residents of any age can now get free food at these times and locations. Residents should go to the location closest to where they live:

  • East Boston YMCA, 215 Breman St., 8 a.m. to noon.
  • Leahy Holloran Community Center, 1 Worrell St., 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Mary Ellen McCormack, Sterling Square, 10 a.m. to noon.
  • YMCA at Egleston Square, 3134 Washington St., 8 a.m. to noon.
  • BCYF Mattahunt, 100 Hebron St., 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Oak Square YMCA, 615 Washington St., 8 a.m. to noon.

 

HEAT ASSISTANCE

NATIONAL GRID IS SUSPENDING ALL COLLECTIONS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE EVERSOURCE IS SUSPENDING ALL DISCONNECTIONS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

  1. Apply for Fuel Assistance. (800) 632-8175https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-home-heating-and-energy-assistance
  2. City of Boston resources:https://www.boston.gov/departments/311/home-heating-help-tenants
  3. Other cities and towns: Service Providers by Town
P-EBT – This May, Massachusetts will be launching the federal Pandemic EBT program, providing food support to all families with children who were receiving free or reduced-price meals in school. Since schools have now been closed for the remainder of the school year, P-EBT will allocate extra resources for families to feed their children. DTA will be mailing all eligible families a letter in May to begin the process. For more information, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/pandemic-ebt-p-ebt
Frontline Worker Resources – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched a new site for Frontline workers (meaning all our members who are currently working). Many of these resources are already out there but there is a link for free emergency child care if a member cannot find child care anywhere else: https://www.frontlinema.org/

 

United Way Fund: 

If members need immediate money, call 211 and ask for the United Way Fund.  They are offering cash assistance to Massachusetts residents. For more info go to: https://unitedwaymassbay.org/get-involved/covid-19-family-fund/

 

UNION CAPITAL Fund:

is offering gift cards, to apply click here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScoIROjCAZrjNOxacVg0CBAfKSMpQ7wY2eVZsA9QmB8__zTlg/viewform

 

The RAFT Program
The RAFT program can be of help in paying rent, moving costs or utilities and just got a $5 million infusion from the state. To see if you are eligible, click here. To access it call 1-800-224-5124.
Here is more info:

RAFT offers flexible financial assistance designed to meet each family’s particular needs. Eligible uses include:

  • moving cost assistance
  • rent and utility arrears
  • rental stipends
  • utility bills
  • helps families who must move but do not have enough money to pay a security deposit, utility startup costs, or first/last month’s rent, and furniture (no more than $1000 of the family’s can be paid for furniture).
  • Families cannot get more than $4000 within a 12-month period.

 

Grant and Hardship Fund:

CJP Warmline: https://www.cjpwarmline.org/

Modest Needs Grant: https://www.modestneeds.org/for-applicants/

Bartenders hardship fund: https://www.usbgfoundation.org/beap

Cambridge residents: https://www.cognitoforms.com/CambridgeCommunityFoundation/CambridgeCOVID19EmergencyFund2

 

OFW Fund: https://ofwemergencyfund.org/help

Boston Helps: Fill out form which will connect people to providers: https://www.boston.com/boston-helps/coronavirus-im-looking-for-help

 

Reducing internet/cable costs for members:

  • Comcast is offering 60 days of free service to new Internet Essentials customers and free remote installation. It’s also increasing service speeds for new and existing customers. 1-855-846-8376 or Apply for service.
  • Starry is offering free service until the end of May to all current Starry Connect subscribers and anyone who signs up for Starry Connect before the end of May. You must live in a building that is currently served by the Starry Connect program.
  • PCs for People offers low-cost Wi-Fi hotspots and computers to qualifying households

     

Health Care:  Insurers must cover COVID-19 related treatment and testing without requiring cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance – for testing and treatment. Additionally, insurers cannot require prior authorization for these services.

 

Free meals: The City of Boston and other regional partners will be providing free meals at various locations and times. Call Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at (800) 645-8333 to find the best location for the member

 

 

RHODE ISLAND RESOURCES AS OF MARCH 18, 2020

 

Unemployment

File an Unemployment claim: https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/UIClaims2013/intro/index.aspx?AC=yes

 

General Questions & Cash Assistance

For General Questions call: 211

To see what public assistance you qualify for go to:

https://healthyrhode.ri.gov/access/am-i-eligible?PAGE_ACTION=LoadWelcome&language=EN

For a full listing of public assistance programs go to:

http://www.economicprogressri.org/index.php/guide-to-assistance-full-listing-all-programs/

 

Paying mortgage or rent

Hardest hit fund for homeowners: hhfri.org or call (401) 277-1500

Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter – rent, mortgage, and foreclosure help: 401-457-1130 or https://www.rihousing.com/homeowner-assistance/

Housing Mediation, counseling, and other resources by bank: Read more.

 

Other housing assistance by location:

BLACKSTONE VALLEY COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM
401-723-4520-238
32 Goff Avenue
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860-2928

THE HOUSING NETWORK OF RHODE ISLAND
401-521-1461
1070 Main Street
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860

COMMUNITYWORKSRI
401-273-2330-109
693 Broad Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02907

OLNEYVILLE HOUSING CORPORATION
401-351-8719
66 Chaffee Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02909

PROVIDENCE HOUSING AUTHORITY
401-709-6400
100 Broad Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903-4129

RHODE ISLAND HOUSING
401-457-1130
44 Washington St
Providence, Rhode Island 02903-1721

 

Healthcare

RIte Care Assistance Program: (401) 462-5300

Prescription Drug Assistance Program from RIRx: https://rirx.com/

Child Care Assistance Program: (401) 462-5300RIte Share – Healthcare assistance program for families: (401) 462-0311or http://www.eohhs.ri.gov/Consumer/FamilieswithChildren/RIteShare.aspx

  

Food

Food pantries near Providence

SNAP, R.I. Works Program, Cash assistance, other programs: https://healthyrhode.ri.gov/access/am-i-eligible?PAGE_ACTION=LoadWelcome&language=EN

RI Food Banks: Read more.

 

Energy and Heating Assistance

RISEO Emergency Fuel Program
This Rhode Island program is a separate program from LIHEAP and it offers emergency assistance to households that are experiencing an energy-related crisis, and will help families pay utility and heating bills.

Good Neighbor Energy Fund: www.rhodeislandgoodneighbor.org.

UniBank assistance program: 508-754-1176

Heating assistance: https://www.ricommunityaction.org/member-services/default.aspx

 

County Specific assistance:

Kent County

Newport County

Providence County

Washington County