New York gets more new Muppets

New York gets more new Muppets

I love the Muppets. Who doesn’t? My kids grew up with Kermit and the gang. We all can probably list a dozen or more characters. A few weeks ago, Goldman Sachs was roasted for referring to their clients as “Muppets.” This reference, leaked to the press by a disgruntled employee, was played up briefly in the news.

It would surprise no one if the New York Hotel Trades Council, AFL-CIO referred to the negotiating members of the Hotel Association of New York City similarly. And, if this is the case, it will not surprise me to see Miss Piggy and Gonzo make an appearance at the annual Association Gala.

For those who missed any of my earlier notes on this historic relationship, here’s a snapshot recap. When the new hotel union contract expires in seven years, every hotel worker, no matter the job, will be earning a minimum of US$60,000 in base salary for a 35-hour work week. Benefits easily take that number over US$90,000. These workers will have a pension fully paid for by their employers and medical benefits that do not even require a single dollar in copay! Think about it for a minute: Your room attendant will earn more than many of your guests.

Should we be outraged? Let’s make some comparisons.

I visited a fascinating site called to examine the salaries of different industries. The salaries researched were current. For appropriate comparisons, I examined the salaries of teachers and policemen, comparing them to hotel salaries. For simplicity, let’s use the salaries of hotel room attendants in the comparison.

There are no real requirements to becoming a room attendant. There are no tests. You do not even need to speak or write English. In addition, the way the hotel disciplinary system now works, it is incredibly difficult to be fired. You work seven hours a day and will need to clean — at most — two standard bedrooms and baths an hour. For this, you will be receiving US$60,000 annually. tells us that the average salary in New York City for all K-12 teachers is US$50,302. There are certainly some exacting tests to becoming a teacher. You need educational credentials and, of course, you must be fluent in English. You are also responsible for teaching and exciting the minds of our children. Shall we all agree this has a higher degree of responsibility than changing linen? Teachers also contribute to their own pension and medical benefits. True, teachers get summers off, but any teacher will tell you about the many hours they work during the school year and beyond. No one begrudges our teachers’ rights to appropriate remuneration. also provided some interesting data on policemen. Certainly a policeman earns more than a room attendant? After all, what could compare to risking your life every day and making the world safe from criminals and terrorism? tells us that until a New York City policeman enters his/her fifth year of service, they earn less than US$60,000. Somehow getting paid more for navigating a vacuum around a bedframe than chasing criminals is utterly ridiculous.

But what can we do about this? Maybe we have it all wrong, sending our kids to college to become one of the 8%+ unemployed. Rather, we should have them run (not walk!) to the New York Hotel Trades Council to apply for jobs. A lifetime of financial security is only a vacuum or a paintbrush away. 

For those of you reading this who are hoteliers in New York, perhaps a call to the mayor’s office is in order to express your outrage and explain the higher room rates that will eventually result, causing the Big Apple to become too expensive a destination. It is up to you to act. It is clear that no one else will.