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Nine Zero hotel to reinstate terminated workers, union says

Nine Zero hotel workers gathered outside of the Downtown Boston hotel in March to demand their jobs back.
Nine Zero hotel workers gathered outside of the Downtown Boston hotel in March to demand their jobs back.Erin Clark/Globe Staff//File

The Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel is reinstating the 52 workers it terminated last month and has agreed to extend laid-off employees’ right to be recalled with full seniority for up to 30 months, according to the union representing the workers.

The workers had been furloughed since last March but were recently told they would not be brought back even when business returned.

Unite Here Local 26 said the terminations violated the contract, which allow workers to be fired only for just cause, such as stealing. The union had declared the cuts an “act of war” and has been holding protests and appealing to politicians. Before being notified Wednesday afternoon that they were getting their jobs back, three of the workers and union president Carlos Aramayo met with Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who noted that 70 percent of Boston’s hospitality workers were people of color and that the job cuts were a “racial justice issue.”

Aramayo said he was pleased the fight was over at Nine Zero and that the union could get back to working with the hotel to help the industry recover.

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“We’re moving on,” he said. “I really want to focus on actually getting folks back to work.”

Thays Ferreira, a room service attendant at the Nine Zero for 14 years, said she was surprised and happy to be getting her job back, although it’s unclear when she will actually return to work, given that few people are traveling. Ferreira, 37, who is originally from Brazil and has two children, said that without her hotel job, “I have no idea what I can do in life.” She said she has mixed feelings toward the hotel but is thrilled to be going back. “If we keep our jobs, that’s the most important thing,” she said.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kimpton operates 74 hotels around the world, including two others in the Boston area: the Marlowe in Cambridge and the Onyx near Faneuil Hall, which are not unionized.

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The lodging market in Boston and Cambridge was devastated by the pandemic, with the area’s occupancy rate plunging to less than 26 percent last year, driving revenue per available room down more than 80 percent, the second largest drop in the country, according to the hotel consultancy Pinnacle Advisory Group. An estimated 8,000 union and non-union hotel employees are still out of work around Boston.

A number of Boston hotels have terminated staffers during the pandemic, including the Four Seasons on Boylston Street (which later promised staffers who were let go they’d be first in line for their jobs once business returns), Boston Marriott Copley Place, and Revere Hotel Boston Common, but the Nine Zero has been the only union hotel to permanently cut workers.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.