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Unemployed in a pandemic: a time of difficulty, uncertainty

Paulina Bastidas (center), who was laid off from her job as an office cleaner downtown during the pandemic, volunteers at the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen.
Paulina Bastidas (center), who was laid off from her job as an office cleaner downtown during the pandemic, volunteers at the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Workers need peace of mind that their jobs won’t disappear

I couldn’t help but see myself in Katie Johnston’s profiles of unemployed workers (“ ‘I fear it’s going to be a battle to find a job’: The strain and uncertainty of being unemployed in a pandemic,” Page A12, Oct. 18). I’ve worked at the Ritz-Carlton as a banquet server for 19 years. I’ve worked hard. I’ve done everything right. And now, after decades of service, I could lose my job for good.

The stress keeps me up at night. I always saw myself eventually retiring from my hotel job. If my job is not protected, I’m not sure who will hire me or what the future will bring.


I know there are thousands of other Massachusetts hotel workers who face the same dilemma and ask themselves: Will I get my job back? What will happen to me if I can’t go back to work? Will my unemployment run out? Will I lose my house?

At least in this moment of chaos, we deserve peace of mind to know that when this is all over, we can return to the jobs we have served so vigilantly for decades.

Maryann Silva


The writer is a member of UNITE HERE Local 26.

Cruelly, pandemic has taken jobs from those who need them most

Mike Geoghegan, in telling his story to Katie Johnston, described it well: “It’s the tale of two recoveries: Those who can work distantly are doing fine and those who have to report to a job site, especially one that depends on the public, are not.”

At BEST Hospitality Training Center, we see the impact of the pandemic on workers who cannot do their jobs remotely. Most of the hotels, the convention center, airport shops, and university dining halls remain closed, and 8,000 Local 26 workers are unemployed. Many of these workers have been cleaning hotel rooms for decades.


With grants from the United Way, the Boston Resiliency Fund, Eastern Bank, and Phil and Liz Gross, BEST recently provided grocery cards to nearly 1,000 unemployed workers. The need is heartbreaking and the gratitude immense: “I didn’t know when I would be able to go food shopping again.” “My entire family contracted COVID.” “My income from [unemployment] is $189 a week, my rent is $750 per month. I go from pantry to pantry for food.” “I was getting tired of beans.”

Most of these people are receiving significantly less on unemployment than they used to earn, and it’s not enough to pay the bills. We know these people. We know their work ethic and their dedication to their jobs. What a cruel coincidence that the pandemic has taken away jobs for those who need them most.

We need to remember these workers who change our beds, serve our food, and pour us a drink when deciding who gets relief money. It’s our turn to take care of them.

Joan M. Abbot

Assistant director

BEST Hospitality Training


After years of professional employment, he’s struggling to find work

Thank you to Katie Johnston and the Globe for her article on Sunday. My department moved to Bangalore, India, and my job ended, along with those of many of my colleagues, on Dec. 20, 2019.

The pandemic is making it difficult for me to find a job, and it may be impossible. This situation has created a new class of haves and have-nots.


Those with college degrees have been less adversely affected than those without degrees. Therefore, those of us with degrees who are looking for work get the side-eye. From my interviews, it seems that hiring personnel, feeling additional pressure to protect their own jobs, are highly selective, and they have a lot more people to choose from.

I also think there is a new kind of video bias, with more people involved in the hiring process. I wonder whether they are rejecting people for things that do not even matter, such as what the interior of the applicant’s house looks like.

My experience still puts me as too “old” for companies that engage in so-called title inflation. People in their mid-20s to early 40s with titles such as “senior manager” are not interested in having someone with more experience around them.

Moving jobs overseas has been going on for decades, and after many years of professional employment, I guess my number came up. I never thought my career would end like this.

Lawrence Bentley