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Working In These Times

Friday, Jun 10, 2011, 1:21 pm

This Week In Labor: Housekeepers Speak Out, and N.Y. Legislators Respond

BY Lindsay Beyerstein

At the end of each week, Working In These Times rounds up labor newswe've missed during the past week, with a focus on new and ongoing campaigns and protests. For all our other headlines from this week, go here.

—On the day of Dominique Strauss-Khan's arraignment for allegedly sexually assaulting a housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel, 125 housekeepers in uniform showed up to show their solidarity. Housekeepers in Toronto, Chicago, San Antonio, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Los Angeles held coordinated speakouts to educate the public about their difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs. (The UNITE HERE union rounds up coverage of hotel workers' protests here.)

Five days later, on Tuesday, New York legislators introduced legislation to require hotel owners in the state to provide employees with "a clear system for reporting episodes of sexual abuse," as Steven Greenhouse reports for the New York Times. "The bill would also establish a hotel employees’ bill of rights and would protect hotel workers from retaliation if they speak out about or report cases of sexual harassment or abuse. ... Employers would also be required to post a worker’s bill of rights and provide employees with a “know your rights” pamphlet. "

—The stagehands' union and the producers of the Tony Awards reached an eleventh hour agreement, Friday, that will allow the show to go on. Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees were outraged that the producers were allowing nonunion workers to set up the red carpet for Sunday's awards ceremony. No details of the deal have been released, beyond the fact that union workers will be laying the red carpet.

—State legislators in Connecticut approved paid sick days for hundreds of thousands of service-sector workers last Saturday. The new law, vigorously opposed by big business, allows hourly-wage service sector employees to earn up to five paid sick days a year, accrued at a rate of 1 hour of sick leave per 40 hours worked.

—The NBA concedes that, with less than three weeks left in their contract, the players and the league are still "very far apart." NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters Tuesday that the players' association and the league weren't "anyplace close to a deal." The vice president of the Players' Association, Roger Mason, agrees. He says the players oppose the league's proposed hard salary cap and object to the league's proposal for revenue sharing.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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