“These customers think they can use us for anything they want, because we don’t have the power that they have or the money that they have” : Housekeepers speak out on rampant sexual assault in Hotels across the US
03.06.2011 § Leave a comment
“These customers think they can use us for anything they want, because we don’t have the power that they have or the money that they have,” said Yazmin Vazquez, a Chicago room attendant.
Hotel workers face injuries from the physical stress of their work, including the awkward lifting of heavy mattresses hundreds of times a day. But the hidden hazard of hotel work, housekeepers say, is customers’ assaults on their dignity and physical integrity.
Workers report that male customers expose themselves, attempt to buy sexual services, grab and grope them and, in some cases, attempt to rape them.
Cecily Phillips, at the speak-out in Toronto, said she felt “humiliated, dirty, and nervous” after a customer groped her while she was making a bed.
“Customers offer money for massage—but they don’t want massage, they want something else,” said Elizabeth Moreno, an 18-year Chicago hotel worker. When she delivers room service items, male guests occasionally come to the door naked, she said.
The problem is so prevalent that hotel workers in Hawaii and San Francisco have resisted management efforts to make them wear skirts. Workers said the uniforms make them more vulnerable to groping in a job that requires bending over beds, tubs, and floors.
One worker reported wearing extra layers as a deterrent after a guest barged into a bathroom she was cleaning and exposed his genitals.
At the New York Sofitel, where Strauss-Kahn occupied a $3,000-a-night room, management has now changed the skirt uniform to pants and tunic, according to a union representative.
Room attendants’ safety is compromised by staff cuts that leave women isolated as they work. Some Hawaiian hotel workers on “turn down duty,” which involves entering rooms in the evening to draw drapes and turn down covers, used to work in pairs. Now management is asking them to work alone, and they say it makes them feel unsafe…
A 30-year hotel worker in Indianapolis, a “guest runner” on the evening shift, brings towels and shampoo to customers who request them. She said that twice a week she confronts men who come to the door naked, proposition her, or worse. Managers know about this, she said, but most laugh it off.
Toronto hotel worker Andria Babbington also said managers laughed at her when she complained about a naked guest who asked to be tucked in…
If workers do report a guest’s behavior, the police are rarely called. “This needs to stay confidential,” workers in a Texas hotel were told several years ago after a worker delivering a razor late at night was grabbed and groped by the naked guest who requested it.
Great article over at Labor notes, do read teh whole thing HERE, but as always, a tepid, dubious, victim-blaming conclusion:
It’s not enough, say union staffers. Management has to “make sure they train people more so they understand they have a right to speak up,” said Babbington, a union health and safety officer in Toronto, to a reporter. “Make sure you’re sending the message out that guests won’t get away with it.”