A motel in New York City recently experienced how devastating having bedbugs discovered can be for a business. The workers at the Capri Whitestone Hotel, located in the Bronx, were lucky enough to be part of an organized union. It was this union that stepped up to protect them from the bedbug infestation they had to work in and around but requiring the motel to supply them with hazmat suits and to have the motel be cleaned up.
The union is requiring the Capri Whitestone to offer its employees with protection from bedbugs hitching a ride home with them. The room attendants working there have had their wages slashed and lost all health and retirement benefits.
Approximately 20 employees are currently picketing in front of the Capri Whitestone and taking photographs of the short term guests to this motel that rents rooms out in 4-hour blocks of time. According to the union, they are picketing to protest the cut in pay and benefits.
The message is clearly delivered in a flash — an amateur paparazzi snaps pictures of customers who cross the picket line on their way to ignoring the lines of decency. A sign near the camera reads “Say Cheese!” with a towering inflatable rat hovering nearby in the motel parking lot. “Don’t be a dirty rat. Don’t cross our picket line.”
The photographs taken are posted on www.dontcrossthisline.com under the category of “Walk of Shame.” Richard Moroko, attorney for the New York Hotel and Motel Trade Council which represents thousands of workers across the city, said “I’ve never seen an employer take as aggressive and heartless an action as this.” “It is really stunning,” he continued. “To have your paycheck slashed by 60% overnight is hard enough. But to put on top of that the loss of your health benefits, that’s heartless.”
After a union rep explained their position and the shaming-photo policy car after car left the lot without checking into the hotel. Union officials say they have rarely used this tactic before. “Most people refuse to cross the line,” said union vice president George Padilla as he manned the camera. “It has been very effective. We’ve been turning away a massive amount of business.”
Six-year union veteran Paula Anmparo, 42, said the money crunch caused by the website photos should drive management back to the bargaining table. “This will force the owner to work with the union,” she said. “Business is way down.”
Hopefully, by then, they’ll have exterminated their bed bug problem, too.