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Hotels and hospitality union call for passage of COVID-19 relief bill

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Law360 (May 3, 2021, 10:01 p.m. EDT) – The American Hotel & Lodging Association and hotel workers union Unite Here have teamed up to call on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act, a measure designed to throw a lifeline to employees struggling to survive until the travel industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

US Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and US Representative Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Introduced bill to secure direct payroll subsidies for hotels to pass on to laid-off employees as well as recall rights ensuring that people who have lost their jobs due to the crisis can return to work when hotels restart, according to a statement released Thursday by the AHLA and Unite Here.

The Save Hotel Jobs Act also offers a personal protective equipment tax credit, which would promote worker safety measures and allow a payroll tax credit for 50% of the costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment. ‘PPE, increased testing for employees and improved cleaning protocols.

Unite Here, President D. Taylor said in a statement the need for direct subsidies is dire, with 98 percent of union members of 300,000 workers fired at the height of coronavirus-related shutdowns and more than 70 percent still out of office. work today.

“The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide important help in bringing back good jobs to the hospitality industry and ensuring that workers laid off during the pandemic are called back to work,” Taylor said.

A dollar amount for the relief requested was not immediately available. Representatives for the AHLA and Unite Here did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the leisure and hospitality sector lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have not yet returned, representing more than a third of all unemployed in the United States. United, according to the AHLA. And the expected job losses in the industry for 2021 show that hotels will end 2021 down 500,000 jobs, the trade group said on Monday.

Hotels are the only major hospitality and leisure segment not to have received direct aid, compared to airlines, which received $ 40 billion in targeted federal aid, and live events, which received $ 16 billion, the AHLA said.

The group also spoke about restaurants, which on March 11 gained early approval from President Joe Biden. a $ 28.6 billion package of COVID-19 relief funds in the first federal grant program available to help struggling restaurants and bars since the start of the pandemic.

Biden signed the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program, run by the Small Business Administration, after passing the United States House on a 220-211 vote a day earlier on the relief bill against the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus known as the US bailout.

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the AHLA, said in a statement Thursday that no industry has been more affected by the pandemic than the hospitality industry, and he thanked Schatz and Crist for introducing the measure relating to employment in hotels.

“Millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are at risk – not just hotels, but also the many businesses and workers hotels support in the community,” Rogers said. “Congress must step in now to support the hospitality industry workforce with targeted assistance.”

Groups said city hotels were hit particularly hard during the crisis as they rely on business and group travel and are more likely to host large events.

Room revenues at city hotels were down 66% in January compared to the same month in 2020, and that figure does not include lost revenue from groups, meetings and food and drink, they said. .

Recent reports show that New York City has lost a third of its hotel rooms, or about 42,000, due to the pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing permanently, the groups say.

“The pandemic has left millions of hotel workers out of work and many more are struggling to cope with fewer hours. They need help,” Schatz said in a statement. “Our bill creates a new subsidy program that will bring back hotel jobs, pay workers and help our economy recover.”

– Edited by Bruce Goldman.

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