The Revere Hotel Boston Common has fired more than 100 furloughed employees, telling them that they must reapply for their old jobs as new hires, according to Unite Here Local 26, which does not represent the workers but is assisting them. The workers, some of whom had worked at the property for decades, received no severance pay, the union said.
The move follows similar actions by the Boston Marriott Copley Place, which terminated half its staff in the fall and offered reduced severance packages, and the Four Seasons on Boylston Street. The Four Seasons soon reversed course — following a public outcry from prominent people — and offered workers full severance and the chance to be first in line for their old jobs.
The management group HEI Hotels & Resorts took over the Revere in May, and furloughed workers were told they would retain their seniority. But in November, they learned the hotel would not automatically rehire them, and they would have to reapply as new hires.
The Revere Hotel could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mirna Hernandez, a room attendant at the hotel for 35 years, told Local 26 she felt “discarded in the middle of the pandemic.” Hernandez and her coworkers have signed a petition calling on the Revere to recognize their years of service and give them their jobs back when business picks up.
“This is a growing crisis for Boston’s hospitality industry and protections must be put in place to stop this avalanche of devastation for Boston families,” Carlos Aramayo, president of Local 26, said in a statement.
Many of the workers being pushed out are older, more experienced employees whom hotels could be looking to replace with less expensive new hires, the union said.
Local 26 is pushing for legislation to be reintroduced that would allow Massachusetts cities to adopt a law giving hospitality workers who were laid off during the pandemic first dibs when their positions return. Similar ordinances have been passed in several cities around the country, including Providence.
Union hotel workers are guaranteed their old jobs back for up to a year, and Local 26 is working with individual hotels to extend the time period.
Meanwhile, Aramayo took aim at the Omni hotel chain by requesting that the Small Business Administration scrutinize Omni’s use of federal COVID-19 assistance loans.
Aramayo, acting in his role as executive vice president of the Unite Here International Union, sent a letter to the SBA on Tuesday noting that Omni affiliates have received 32 loans through the Paycheck Protection Program totaling about $76 million. Businesses can have PPP loans forgiven if they spend at least 60 percent of that money on payroll expenses, but Aramayo said Omni is falling short of that threshold at five of its hotels and possibly many others.
The SBA declined to comment about the letter. An Omni spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Aramayo said the union has direct knowledge of loan use at five Omni hotels, including $3.9 million that went to the Omni Parker House in Boston and $2.6 million that went to the Omni Providence. The other three are in New Haven, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. With these five, Aramayo said, it’s clear that the bulk of the PPP money is not being used for payroll expenses. He suggests that Omni may be failing to meet the forgiveness standard at other hotels; the vast majority of Omni’s hotels are not unionized.
Aramayo notes that the Omni Parker House has failed to bring back more than 80 percent of Unite Here’s members. The Providence hotel hasn’t even reopened yet, and none of his members have been rehired as a result at that location.
“We’re not against the PPP [but] we want to make sure there’s some hook in there that the money gets to the workers,” Aramayo said in an interview. “I know a lot of people who work at both of those hotels who could have used some of that cash in the last couple of months.”
Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston. Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.