Hotels banned from outsourcing housekeeping

An initiative by the municipal government of Cambridge, Massachusetts is set to ban hotels from outsourcing housekeeping labor within the city.

An ordinance passed the city’s licensing commission on Tuesday requiring hotels to hold a license that proves its employees that regularly enter guestrooms are directly employed by the hotel and not a third-party agency.

The move comes after several years of labor protests against Hyatt Hotels Corp. in the Boston area and elsewhere in the U.S. by people angered about the company’s policy of outsourcing its housekeeping staff. It represents the first time political action has been taken by the government to stop the practice.

Whether the license ordinance will be replicated elsewhere remains to be seen.

“It’s one more example of how sophisticated union organizers have become in not only making the politicians beholden to them through massive contributions to their campaigns but also how they call in their chips,” said James Butler, an attorney specializing in the hospitality industry. “These kinds of things tend to be created and spawned by the unions and if it is successful in Cambridge, we could see it happen elsewhere. The same political chips are held in other cities. I think we can call this a new tactic, and if this is successful I think they will use it everywhere they can.”