Statement of Solidarity with Providence Hotel Workers

Bluestockings stands in solidarity with Providence hotel workers who are pushing the City of Providence to pass an ordinance to raise the minimum wage of hotel workers to $15 an hour. The majority of hotel workers in Providence are women, people of color, and working mothers, so securing this minimum wage would be a major labor victory and improve lower-income Providence communities as a whole.

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Providence City Council members are scheduled to vote soon on the ordinance, here is some information on what is at stake:

  • The average Providence hotel housekeeper currently lives below the poverty line. While a full data set is not available for all Providence hotels, the average wage of housekeepers at the Hilton Providence is $9.50. Assuming a forty-hour workweek, this wage is below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Line for a family of 3 (before taxes).
  • The current Rhode Island state minimum wage is $8.50.
  • Providence’s Hotel Industry is currently exceptionally prosperous:
    -Rhode Island’s occupancy rate has grown every year since the recession. According to the Boston Globe there is a routine hotel occupancy rate for Providence at 80 percent, well above the national average
    -Revenue per Available room increased by 3.7% last year (Source: New England Real Estate Journal)
    -Demand is outweighing supply – Rhode Island’s 0.6% increase in supply last year outweighed the 2.6% increase in demand (New England Real Estate Journal)
  • Hotel worker minimum wages have been passed elsewhere with positive results for local economies, in both Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA with zero loss of jobs reported an increased room occupancy rates

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The ordinance was supported by over 1,000 signatures and a poll conducted by Unite Here Local 217 shows that over 60% of Providence residence supports the ordinance. On Thursday May, 29th, working women packed the City Council meeting during which a vote on the bill was supposed to take place but never did. Hotel workers voiced their opinions on the bill (the following quotes are provided by WLNE-TV and Unite Here).

“I myself am a single mother trying to raise my 7-year-old son and we just need a livable wage,” said Adrienne Jones who has worked in the hotel industry for 6 year.

“If there’s one very important fact that I would like to deliver to the City Council it’s that if the wages are increased it would give workers an opportunity to become more successful and be able to provide for themselves and their families,” said Krystle Martin, a former hotel worker in Providence. Santa, a housekeeper at the Renaissance Hotel, said, “Right now I live paycheck to paycheck and can barely afford the bare necessities. With this new minimum wage, I will be able to shop and support small business in my neighborhood. No one on my block has any disposable income right now, so we suffer just like the business owners in our community.”

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We send our full support to the Providence hotel workers fighting for a fair and livable wage and recognize that the struggle of working women and mothers is one intricately embedded in the feminism of Bluestockings Magazine.

 By Bluestockings Magazine & Patricia Ekpo, Senior Blog Editor, with credit to Unite Here Local 217

Images Courtesy of Steve Ahlquist

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