Remember when hotels were targeted by organized labor way back when. They were typically the larger major city hotels. For these hotels, unionization started with the skilled trades (electricians, plumbers and the like), who they already represented in many other sectors. This effort then morphed through the guest services classifications (bellmen, doormen, valets) and the Front Desk then culinary and finally, housekeeping. The Teamsters had a field day.
A stunning headline, but at least I have your attention.
Remember when hotels were targeted by organized labor way back when. They were typically the larger major city hotels. For these hotels, unionization started with the skilled trades (electricians, plumbers and the like), who they already represented in many other sectors. This effort then morphed through the guest services classifications (bellmen, doormen, valets) and the Front Desk then culinary and finally, housekeeping. The Teamsters had a field day. In my experience, they were a very squared away, disciplined organization. The other major player was the Hotel union which joined with the Needle Trade crowd to form UNITEHere. But, many other unions have fought for hotel representation, too. Remember, hotels cannot offshore their product; hotels are kind of stuck. And, restaurants that they operate are union represented.
It is not hard to see the next horizon for organizing – that expansive sector known as restaurants, whether a corporate brand or stand -alone independent. We are beginning to see some indications. Remember that one day strike in New York City last year, where the issue was a living wage. Plus, we are seeing more lawsuits being filed, regarding overtime and job duties definition, just as we tightened up our operations during the recent recession.
There is an interesting movement now being undertaken by a number of bakers, who work for a Michigan franchisee of Panera Bread, and it starts with a skilled trade element which was so powerful with hotels earlier on. These bakers have been referred to as skilled artisans, who undergo significant training to be considered a craftsman. Yet, in the Panera model they make just a bit over $11 and hour and have very expensive health care programs. They do not share the classification elements of a cashier, or waiter, or busser. They are craftsmen, going through almost an apprentice period.
According to the Huffington Post, "It takes a special type of person to dedicate their night to baking fresh bread," Panera says on its web site. The company has already effectively established quite a status for their bakers, for after all, the Brand is known for its breads and pastries.
The Michigan bakers are having a battle at their unionization attempts, but, as the article reports, “…restaurant chains remain a nearly union-free world. The Panera bakers' fight to unionize may shed light on what kind of future organized labor has in the modern service economy”. We need to be paying attention!
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