Holiday Layoff Fears Spark Chicago Hotel Housekeepers to Protest “Fake” Green Program

Reporting workplace injuries and lost hours, local housekeepers join actions in 30 countries for “Global Week of Action for Dignity & Safe Work” 

This holiday season, Chicago’s hotel housekeepers say a new initiative billed as eco-friendly could instead cost them their jobs. Housekeepers report that Starwood​ Hotel’s controversial “Make a Green Choice” program has led to workplace injuries, lost hours and income for their families, and more chemicals being used on the job. 

The program, which housekeepers in other cities have already dubbed “Fake Green”, rewards guests​ for going for days without cleaning their rooms by providing various small incentives at the hotels such as a $5 credit at the bar or restaurant. When guests check out, housekeepers have to clean rooms that have not been cleaned for days. 

The “Green Choice” program has been widely seen as a way for hotels to cut labor costs rather than conserve energy. Not only do housekeepers get reduced hours when guests use it, but they are forced to work much faster to maintain the same room quota when those rooms are ready to be cleaned. Where an average room might usually take 30 minutes to clean, after three days of no service that same room can take an hour and a half – often times using three times the amount of cleaning products. 

Local 1 represents 3,000 housekeepers in the city. This is the first time the program has been publicly denounced in Chicago. 

Chicago housekeeper actions are being organized in conjunction with housekeeper actions thirty other countries across Europe, Africa, Asia/Pacific Islands, and North America, as part of a “Global Week of Action for Dignity & Safe Work” between Dec. 3-10.  The events will culminate in an international press conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil on December 12th.