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NYC Hotel Workers Seize Political Influence at Key Moment for City’s Recovery

A union’s ability to wield influence over the reopening of hotels will have big consequences for the city’s $40 billion tourism industry.

A worker helps a guest at a hotel in New York in September 2020.

A worker helps a guest at a hotel in New York in September 2020.

Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of hotel workers in New York City are fighting to retain their political influence ahead of what will be a decisive moment for the recovery of the city’s $40 billion tourism industry.

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, the city’s hotel union, has spent the last 18 months pushing for Covid-19 safety protections and severance pay for its roughly 37,000 members in New York and New Jersey, while strategically backing politicians who it believes will prove future allies. It’s never been more politically potent, even as it comes off the worst period in its history.