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Working People

Dec 22, 2021

Hospitality workers around the country have faced some of the worst layoffs in any industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNITE HERE, a labor union representing over 300,000 workers, most of whom are in the hospitality, food service, and restaurant industries, reported that 98% of its members were out of work last year. At the five hotel properties in Virginia’s historic Colonial Williamsburg, however, workers who did get their jobs back are being chronically overworked and underpaid, resulting in injuries on the job and little to no ability to have a life outside of work.

What’s worse, according to a press release from UNITE HERE LOCAL 25, the union representing hospitality workers at Colonial Williamsburg, management with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation “has skipped seven bargaining sessions since August” and “has refused to meaningfully engage with workers’ demands to end forced overtime. Currently, Local 25 members in Colonial Williamsburg routinely work six- and seven-day weeks in the hotels and 10- and 12-hour days in the taverns, a practice workers are demanding an end to in the next contract.” In this mini-cast, we speak with Agatha Hilt, Willie Brown, and John Boardman of UNITE HERE Local 25 about what workers are going through and the status of the current contract fight. Agatha Hilt is a housekeeper at the Williamsburg Lodge and has worked there for the last 11 years, Willie Brown is a houseman at the Williamsburg Lodge and has worked at Colonial Williamsburg for seven years, and John Boardman is the executive secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 25.

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive:

  • Jules Taylor, "Working People Theme Song"