“I didn’t really say goodbye. I didn’t empty my drawer because I thought it was going to last a few weeks. And then a few weeks turned into a few days, a few months, then a year, then colleagues started to die, ”said Matthew moved in front of town hall.
She never imagined that after more than 20 years of welcoming Midtown hotel guests, the job she loves would be put on the back burner with an unknown future.
“I was literally there the last day when they closed the door,” Matthew said.
What would you like to know
- This month, new legislation signed by Mayor de Blasio would require hotels to pay severance pay to workers if they don’t reopen by November 1
- Under the new law, a hotel with more than 100 rooms that laid off more than 75% of its employees or closed during the pandemic would be required to pay a weekly indemnity of $ 500 for up to 30 weeks if it does not reopen
- Over the past two years, Denise Matthew has said she was fired from her job at the hotel, lost her health insurance, and now sells beauty products to supplement her income.
Like many hotel workers across town, she has been laid off for almost two years. But this month, the new legislation signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio could be the relief many hotel workers have been waiting for. A hotel with more than 100 rooms that has laid off more than 75% of its employees, or closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, would be required to pay a weekly indemnity of $ 500 for 30 weeks if it does not reopen by the 1st. November.
Richard Maroko, president of the Hospitality Trades Council, says it’s happening at a time when workers really need it.
“What I heard from my members is that they are desperately looking for work,” said Maroko. “I hope this will prompt hotels to reopen and call back employees so they can return to work. “
To help supplement her income, Denise now sells Avon products from her home in the Bronx.
“After unemployment ended, I needed to find something that would allow me to start making money,” Matthew said while showing products. “So it was either Uber Eats, DoorDash. “
She said that during this time she also lost her health insurance and struggled to motivate herself.
“Depression, anxiety. Like, some days I wake up and I’m fine; some days I get up and sit on the couch until my sister comes home from work, ”Matthew said.
“Once I heard about this bill I had a kind of excitement that something was going to happen and it happened: I was called back yesterday to go back to work. She added.
The Hotel Association of New York City points out that the hospitality industry has also suffered. The organization filed a complaint to overturn the bill. A statement provided by President and CEO Vijay Dandapani said: “The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by COVID 19, closing hundreds of hotels, many of which are on the verge of bankruptcy. We are disappointed that the City has chosen to risk future tourism and our local economy by passing this law which forces hotels to pay money they do not have. Ultimately, this bill could force homeowners to shut down and move out of New York altogether. “
For Matthew, she is happy to return to work and to see colleagues for whom she has called her family for all these years.
But it’s bittersweet.
“I’m sad for those who are still not here and still waiting and hoping,” Matthew said.
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