Remember when Joey DeFrancesco employed the What Cheer? Brigade to help him quit his job at the Providence Renaissance Hotel? “They treat us like shit here and I’m going to go in and quit right now with the help of my band mates the What Cheer? Brigade,” he said in the now-famous You Tube video that went viral and drew national attention to the downtown hotel.
Well the What Cheer? Brigade is at it again. And, evidently, so is management at the Renaissance. The band is again sticking up for oppressed hotel employees today at 5:30 when they picket outside of the downtown Providence hotel.
According to a press release:
The picket line follows a delegation on March 25 where Renaissance Hotel employees, political and community leaders and workers from other area hotels attempted to begin a dialogue with their employer to improve working conditions. The Hotel refused to listen to the delegation. The Hotel immediately responded by issuing two letters encouraging employees to back down and by scheduling housekeeping employees to attend mandatory meetings on two consecutive days where high level managers attempted to convince employees that they just needed more time. When employees requested copies of the Hotel’s OSHA injury logs late last week, Hotel management responded in a letter stating that they do not have the last five years’ records as required by Federal law. The employees are now considering legal action to obtain the records.
Workers say the Hotel has always treated them poorly, but that conditions further deteriorated since the Procaccianti Group, a national hotel management company, took over the hotel in December 2012. The Hotel’s top management remains the same. Employees say they have had enough. They are demanding a voice on the job.
Raquel Cruz a housekeeper, said: “When the new owners took over, they changed the chemicals we use to clean rooms. The new chemicals make it hard to breathe and most housekeepers have rashes up and down their arms. They never trained us how to use them properly. We are all worried about the longterm damage they will cause to our bodies.”
Renaissance workers currently make significantly lower wages and benefits than their counterparts in union hotels like the Omni.
The workers have already planned several more public events in coming days and pledge to continue their fight until management accepts their demands for respect.