Union Calls on D.C. Hotels to Shut Down Ahead of Inauguration

UNITE HERE Local 25, which represents 7,200 hotel workers in the region, wants hotels to shut down unless they are hosting security personnel.
January 15, 2021, 2:00pm
Union Calls on D.C. Hotels to Shut Down Ahead of Inauguration
Stefani Reynolds / Stringer

UNITE HERE Local 25—which represents thousands of hotel, restaurant, and casino workers in Washington, D.C.—is calling on hotels in the region to shut down in advance of Biden's inauguration except for use by security personnel. 

After the January 6 Capitol riot, Local 25 requested all its members be evacuated from the downtown area. Benjy Cannon, a spokesperson for the union, told The Washington Post that “at least 12 hotels in the area either let employees leave early or stay overnight if they kept working.” Hotels in the region struggled that night and the days after with members of the mob who began to return after a 6 p.m. curfew was instituted. 

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Now, the union is worried by reports that another riot may be planned in the days leading up to January 20 and on Wednesday issued a statement on Twitter to shut down hotels to the public. 

“[T]the threat has not dissipated, as we continue to hear reports of armed, far-right militias planning to threaten Washington in the days ahead,” said John Boardman, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Local 25, in a statement. “Given the danger and fluidity of this situation, the best way to guarantee the safety of hotel workers and District residents is to keep these groups out of the city and out of its hotels. That is why, unless hotels in the immediate Metro Area are hosting the National Guard or other security personnel, they should close immediately."

Local 25 isn’t alone in wanting to take precautions in case another mob of Trump supporters try something in the coming week. 

Airbnb has announced it will be canceling all bookings in the D.C. metro area during inauguration week, days after it began identifying and canceling bookings made by members of hate groups. The Transportation Communications Union, the largest union of Amtrak workers, also called on Amtrak to step up security measures after the Capitol riot—namely by banning people placed on the federal no-fly list from purchasing tickets.

"No worker, Union or non-Union, should have to risk their life to go into work," Boardman said in his statement. "Unfortunately that is the situation we are now faced with. When workers are safe, the public is safe. That is why we urge every hotel in the region to do their part in protecting us all."