More than 100 people, including Jews from the local community and New York City, gathered outside a Hilton hotel in Stamford, Connecticut to support newly-unionized hotel employees in the fight for their first contract.
The rally on Sunday outside the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center was organized by the Jewish Labor Committee and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. The groups were encouraged to step in when they heard learned the hotel’s staff was being pressured into not joining the union they had formed with the help of alumni from Yeshivat Hadar, a New York-based egalitarian yeshiva that had frequently booked the Hilton for retreats.
The employees are fighting for affordable healthcare and a living wage. Some employees say they receive insurance bills costing more than their paychecks, and many are overworked; housekeepers, for instance, claim they are required to clean 35 rooms in an eight-hour shift.
The rally featured singing of Hebrew and Yiddish songs and prayers, picketing, and speeches by the members of the Stamford Jewish community, many of whom are past Jewish clients of the hotel.
“I am appalled to hear about conditions at this luxury hotel,” Stamford resident Marcia Kosstrin said in a statement. “Our jobs as Jews and as human beings is to fulfill the ideals of loving kindness, justice and good deeds.”
Rabbi Eli Kohl of Young Israel of Stamford and Cantor Nancy Abramson, dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary Cantorial School, have attended negotiations in support of workers, as have rabbinic students from Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Theological Seminary.