This opinion piece was written by Hilton Hawaiian Village housekeeper, Nely Reinante. If you would like to write for Local 5, contact us!
I was recalled back at work as a housekeeper at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on the third week of June 2021. Since coming back to work, I have had plenty of checkout rooms to clean and my energy is drained at the end of the day. I am having shortness of breath and trouble sleeping. I have constant headaches and my hands are in pain, so I need to take pain relievers several times of the day.
Hilton is only doing daily room cleaning upon request. Before I returned to work, I was imagining the filthy rooms not being cleaned every day. Now that I got recalled back at work, that became a reality! I witnessed with my own two eyes and my own body experienced the overwork caused by no daily room cleaning. The struggle is real!
Some bathtubs are black. Some toilets are brown. Instead of doing just a couple of strokes to clean, I need to put extra effort to scrub them. My work has tripled compared to before the pandemic. Dust and sand are piling up. You can’t vacuum fast because the vacuum can’t suck the piled-up sand at once. Sometimes I have to bring the linen cart all the way to the bathroom to collect the very heavy, wet towels piled up. Some are dripping. It’s terrible! Not to mention the overflowing trash cans! It’s a pretty nasty smell.
On my work days, my energy is all spent at work. No more is left for my home and family. It is so sad! I can no longer massage my husband, who is also tired at work. Before, we would take turns massaging each other. Now, I am the only one getting pampered. Even my 9-year-old daughter is massaging me, too. I feel so bad because I am supposed to be the one pampering her because of her health concerns, not the other way around. I wonder, is this how hard the impact is of not having daily room cleaning?
I am happy and grateful that I am back to work, but sad at the same time. It is so frustrating because if only there is daily room cleaning, these issues could be avoided. I have been working in the hospitality industry for more than a decade. I know what to expect with guest room conditions, especially if it is occupied by groups of guests with families.
It’s very clear that management is taking advantage of the pandemic and taking workers for granted! We aren’t given any consideration in the decisions they are making. If we, the Union, hadn’t taken any action, eliminating daily room cleaning would become the new standard in the hospitality industry. If this happens, it will leave behind many housekeepers who will be permanently laid off. Working housekeepers will have extra workload, pain, and agony. This will be an economic pain for the community and the government.
Summer is over: the peak season of the year! And many housekeepers like me have been put back on on-call status. I haven’t been back to work yet since August 24. We have to live with uncertainties again, knowing there is no assurance of our job security. If there is daily room cleaning, more workers will be called to work.
Nothing really is perfect in this world. It is like you have to choose: work to death, or starve to death? Do we really need to choose? Can’t we just work in a fair working environment, and everybody will have peace and harmony? Workers are motivated to go to work for our families, our employer, and our coworkers. Our workplace is our second home, and we are one big ohana, wherein nobody should be left behind. Bringing back daily room cleaning would help us take care of ourselves, our guests, and our coworkers.