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  • Labor & EconomyOctober 2, 2012

    Found in Translation: A Union Contract's Strengths

    A couple of weeks ago I sat in on a meeting of the leadership of some local hotels. These were not the hotel managers, but the leaders among the workers who clean the rooms, clear the tables, chop the vegetables in the kitchen, vacuum the rugs in the lobby and perform all the other back-breaking tasks that make a hotel comfortable for guests.These people – all from hotels with union contracts – face tough negotiations going into the fall and their workplaces could face serious competition from several proposed downtown hotel projects.

    Nearly all these men and women, many of whom arrived wearing the uniforms of their hotels, spoke Spanish. This put me at a serious disadvantage because despite my efforts to learn this beautiful language, I can’t seem to speak it and I can hardly understand the rapid sentences thrown back and forth between people who all know one another and have worked together for years.

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