Wage Theft in Music City: HOTELS SHOULDN’T HURT!


HOTELS SHOULDN’T HURT! is the new battle cry for Workers’ Dignity’s newest campaign against wage theft and working conditions in Nashville’s booming hospitality industry. The member-led workers’ center for Nashville’s low-wage workers, with support from researchers at Vanderbilt University, released a report last week detailing the harsh conditions of labor for the city’s hospitality workers. The Music City has experienced a huge boost to its hospitality industry in the recent years thanks to Nashville’s rise to prominence as an “it” city. However economic benefits have not reached the lowest paid workers in the industry – housekeepers, custodians, and laundry employees.

The findings of the report are saddening, though not shocking. The hospitality industry has a long history of wage theft and abuse among its lowest paid workers. Nashville is no exception. The report finds that nearly 10% of all hospitality workers in Nashville make less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. 89% of workers worked more than 40 hours a week without receiving fair overtime compensation. As housing and living costs sky-rocket in Nashville, the average wage of a hotel housekeeper, $8.36 an hour, falls far below the national median income. Who are the housekeepers? Overwhelmingly women of color.

In addition to criminally low and stolen wages, the industry is providing little in way of quality safety standards to the lowest paid workers. 39% of employees received no on the job training in handling toxic chemicals. 21% of workers reported that their employees did not provide protective materials such as masks or gloves. 27% of employees reported being injured on the job and 51% of employees are not provided sick days (paid or unpaid). Workers report constantly becoming ill due to long exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals, malfunctioning elevators that lead them to run flights of stairs as they are not permitted in the elevators with hotel patrons, and severe burns that received no attention from hotel management.

Wage theft anywhere cannot be tolerated, but in a city where prices, and buildings, continue to go up, it is crucial that every worker has access to a fair wage and safe working environments. As Workers’ Dignity claims, Nashville is in the midst of a crisis. You may donate to Workers’ Dignity here and remind the Music City that HOTELS SHOULDN’T HURT!

(Photo Credit: Workers’ Dignity) (Video Credit: You Tube / Zach Blumey / Workers’ Dignity)

Workers’ Radio Dignidad To Hit the Airwaves in Nashville

Workers Dignity

A worker-led, community radio station is coming to Nashville, Tennessee. Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera, a worker-led workers’ center based in Nashville, is currently fundraising to support Nashville’s first ever worker-led radio station, designed to be a mixtape of music and social justice, powered by the voices of those left out of Nashville’s recent rise to national prominence.

As low-wage workers continue to be priced out of their neighborhoods as a result of the massive development projects and gentrification occurring throughout Music City, it is important for outlets such as Radio Dignidad to exist so that our community does not lose sight of those struggling to survive in the quickly changing Nashville landscape.

Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera was founded in Nashville in 2010 in an effort to combat the epidemic of wage theft plaguing low-wage workers in Middle-Tennessee. Through organizing, fundraising, phone calls, visits to workplaces, and other acts of solidarity, Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera has helped workers recover over $200,000 in stolen wages.

Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera now has the opportunity to expand their efforts and ability to organize and empower low-wage workers in Nashville through their radio station. To do that, they need the support of the community and those in solidarity with workers. Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera plans to launch the radio station on 104.1 FM in 2016. They need to raise funds to purchase the expensive equipment needed to broadcast. Their current goal is to raise $10,000 by Thanksgiving. Together we can change the tide in Nashville, and bring power back to the voice of the people.

You can donate to their campaign here.

 

(Photo Credit: Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera) (Video Credit: Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera)