Outsourcing Hotel Jobs To Be Banned In Cambridge
September 29, 2011
The City of Cambridge, Mass., has moved to create an ordinance that will effectively bar hotels from outsourcing in-house jobs, the first ban of its kind in the country.
The ordinance will require any large hotel seeking a license to prove that its workers who regularly enter guest rooms are directly employed by the hotel and not by an outside labor agency. Although the regulation has not yet been written, the city's licensing commission voted 2-1 on Tuesday to move ahead with it at the behest of city council.
The commission purportedly based its decision on public health and safety concerns, saying that hotels should be accountable for the housekeepers and other employees who are near guests and their belongings.
But the real subtext for the ordinance is a controversial labor practice. In recent years, some hotel chains have been saving money by outsourcing traditional in-house jobs to temporary staffing agencies that pay workers lower wages and don't offer health benefits.
Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker says the impetus for the ordinance was the 2009 mass firing of housekeepers at Hyatt hotels in Cambridge and Boston. At the time, 100 housekeepers were let go and replaced with new workers who earned about half the pay and had no health benefits. The incident caused such an uproar that Gov. Deval Patrick (D) called for a boycott of Hyatt.