They May Need to Rename it Chateau Skeleton Crew

You may still be able to get a room at the famed Chateau Marmont, frequent sojourning spot for Hollywood’s celebs, but chances are the glitterati won’t be in abundant supply. And good luck finding any staff to handle your bags or bring you a drink.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the hospitality industry with individuals largely eliminating travel. The Chateau Marmont’s website notes that the hotel is still “open for the time being,” but operating on a smaller scale and with an even greater focus on health” and has closed its restaurant in accordance with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s directive that all restaurants must eliminate in-restaurant dining.

Nearly all of the workers have been laid off, according to UNITE HERE Local 11, the union representing the workers. The employees were given barely 24 hours notice and were not offered severance pay, continued health coverage or any assurance that they would be rehired once business improved.

“In the middle of this pandemic, I’m now unemployed and will soon lose health insurance for my entire family,” said Walter Almendarez, a 23-year employee said in the UNITE HERE news release. “It’s completely unjust for the hotel to fire me and my coworkers without anything to keep us on our feet.”

“It was incredibly devastating to have gone from full time, to temporarily losing my hours but still being eligible for health insurance, to terminated with no health insurance in the midst of a pandemic,” added Michael Racanelli, who worked at the hotel for five years.  “It’s absolutely shameful to do this to employees who have given so much of their lives to make a profit for the owner of the hotel, who is already worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

An estimated 125,000 hotel workers in California will lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles City Council is considering policies that would require hospitality industry employers, to conduct layoffs and recall workers by seniority.

In response to a request from the California hotel industry, Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order suspending the requirements of reporting COVID-19 related layoffs under the state’s WARN Act through the end of the emergency. The act requires employers with 75 or more employees to give a 60-day notice before layoffs occur to help employees and communities adjust and prepare.

Anand Singh, a representative of UNITE HERE Local 2, which represents workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, had some choice remarks for the San Francisco Business Journal:

“We believe the real metric of a company’s success during this downturn ought not to be the value of its stock, but whether or not it delivers for its employees and impacted communities in real and measurable ways,” Singh said. “Our union is doing everything we can to make sure hotel and hospitality workers are not left behind. We expect the hotel industry will join us and do the same — especially on a day when industry executives lobbied the Trump administration for $150 billion in assistance.”

Read more here.

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