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Housekeepers Speak Out on Work Dangers on Thursday

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In light of the sexual assault report by a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York last week, and a similar report filed at the Pierre Hotel in New York, Hotel housekeepers are planning a press event on Thursday at the Andaz in West Hollywood to speak out about the dangers of their profession.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested in New York City and charged with the sexual assault of a housekeeper who entered his Sofitel hotel suite. Although Strauss-Kahn has not yet entered a plea, he has denied all charges.

The world of hotel work is largely a hidden world. The grittier aspects of this work—the work of scrubbing toilets, changing sheets, and encountering guests alone behind closed doors—are the hidden foundation on which an sphere of luxury and comfort are built.

But because of the controversy, other housekeepers now are coming forward with their own stories, which reveal a pervasive pattern of harassment and unsafe working conditions for the women—predominantly immigrants—who work as hotel housekeepers.

Together, housekeepers across North America are launching a campaign to break the silence, by encouraging women to share their stories and report sexual harassment and other forms of abuse, including injurious working conditions, when they occur. As part of the action, housekeepers are also calling on hotels to consider a number of common sense preventative measures to help workers stay safe.

Dozens of housekeepers in uniform will gather at the Andaz on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:30AM to speak to the press and sign a giant pledge to “end the silence” signed by housekeepers. The hotel housekeepers are members of UNITE HERE, the hotel workers union, as well as non-union housekeepers and supporters.

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