NYC Council Approves Hotel Worker Severance Bill 40 to 3

September 29, 2021 6:43 PM

On Thursday, September 23rd, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass the Hotel Worker Severance Bill. The bill requires closed hotels with at least 100 guest rooms that haven’t reopened before November 1st to either reopen and recall at least 25% of their staff or pay $500 per week to laid off employees for up to 30 weeks. The law will not apply to laid off workers employed by hotels that have reopened. The whole idea of the law is to incentivize closed hotels to reopen their doors as a major step in the industry’s recovery.

“There are a handful of hotels that are refusing to decide when and if they will reopen,” explained HTC President Rich Maroko. “That indecision is bad for hotel workers, bad for the industry, and bad for our city. Our Union hopes that this creative legislation will encourage these hotels to get off their hands, bring many of our members back to work immediately, and bring all of our members that much closer to being recalled.”

Already, three union-represented hotels have announced their reopenings since the City Council voted on the new law last week. The New York Hilton will reopen October 4th, the Grand Hyatt on November 1st, and the Residence Inn Times Square on October 7th. The bill will potentially help thousands more laid off hotel workers from closed hotels, including HTC Member Sandra Velez from the Roosevelt Hotel, who testified in support of the bill on September 15th. “Speaking for myself and thousands of my union brothers and sisters, we are ready and eager to return to work,” said Sandra. “We’re incredibly thankful to the New York City Council members for their support.”

While this bill can incentivize shuttered hotels to reopen and recall some members, make no mistake, many members at these properties will remain on layoff until business comes back. If you are not recalled, click here to help with your job search.

NYC Council Member Francisco Moya sponsored the bill. “NYC cannot have a fair and full economic recovery if it leaves behind out-of-work employees and families struggling to make ends meet,” remarked Moya.

He added, “This legislation is about protecting the livelihoods of these very workers, who are the backbone of NYC’s tourism economy, and incentivizing the revitalization of NYC’s hotel industry by getting workers back to work.”

The bill is not yet in effect – it now heads to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will either sign or reject the legislation. If the bill is signed, hotels will have to recall at least 25% of their employees and reopen by November 1st or begin paying $500 per week in severance to eligible employees. There are also rumors about hotels that plan to challenge the bill in court once signed, opting to spend money on lawyers rather than running their hotels or paying laid off workers. We will continue to keep you updated.