Oakland Joins Chicago, Seattle In Requiring Panic Buttons For Hotel Workers

Oakland Hotel Workers at City CouncilOakland Hotel Workers at City Council
(Last Updated On: November 8, 2018)

Oakland, CA – More than 74% of Oakland voters united on Tuesday night to pass Measure Z, which addresses sexual assault in the workplace by providing a panic button to every hotel room cleaner in Oakland and creating procedures to protect those who are assaulted or threatened on the job.

Measure Z also sets living wage and workload standards for hospitality workers, to help them earn fair wages for a fair day’s work and care for their families. And Measure Z protects ALL Oakland workers by creating a Department of Workplace and Employment Standards to enhance enforcement measures that ensure all low-wage workers in Oakland get paid at least the minimum wage.

“Last night, Oakland voters said Time’s Up to employers and managers who put the bottom line first and worker safety and dignity a distant second,” said Wei-Ling Huber, President of Unite Here Local 2850. “Measure Z will make hotel workers – and all Oakland workers – safer and better off.”

“Many of these workers experience low pay, wage theft and backbreaking workloads that leave them exhausted,” said Cynthia Morfin of EBASE, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy. “Last night’s vote is a step towards ending the exploitation of feminized labor, and adds momentum to the growing #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements. Women deserve to work in environments free from sexually threatening behavior – and today we are one step closer to that goal.”

According to a recent survey, more than half of Oakland’s hotel workers, who are primarily women of color, have experienced a guest opening the door naked or exposing himself, and 1 in 4 have felt threatened by hotel guests while working.

Blanca Smith, who works at the Oakland Airport Hilton, has experienced many instances of sexually threatening behavior during her 20 years on the job. She had this to say:

“Last night’s result represents a safer future for women like me. For too long, we’ve lived in fear and shame of guests exposing themselves to us — or worse — when we enter to clean their room or bring them food. It’s embarrassing and humiliating.

“Thanks to Measure Z, we will have panic buttons to press in situations such as these. I am more confident that people will believe us when we report this behavior, and it gives me hope that the problem won’t continue to be ignored. I’d like to thank Oakland’s voters for standing with us.”

Jane Dixon is new to blogging in Oakland, but loves The Town!

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Jane Dixon
Jane Dixon is new to blogging in Oakland, but loves The Town!