Hotel Workers Would Get Panic Alarm Buttons Under Proposed Contract
By Patrick McGeehan
Nine months after a hotel housekeeper accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French politician, of sexually assaulting her in his suite in Manhattan, hotels across the city have agreed to equip their employees with panic buttons that will summon help immediately.
That provision, scheduled to be put in place within a year, is included in a new seven-year labor contract that the Hotel Association of New York City approved last week. The agreement was presented to the 30,000 members of the hotel workers’ union, the New York Hotel Trades Council, A.F.L.-C.I.O., on Tuesday afternoon, and is scheduled for ratification on Feb. 13.
Neither union officials nor representatives of the hotel owners said the Strauss-Kahn case had spurred the provision. The charges against Strauss-Kahn, the former director of the International Monetary Fund, were eventually dropped.
But the heavily publicized case shined a bright light on the danger faced by housekeepers and other employees who frequently enter guest rooms alone. The provision calls for the hotels to equip certain employees with “devices to be carried on their persons at work that they can quickly and easily activate to effectively summon prompt assistance to their location.”
The devices would be distributed to housekeepers, room-service waiters and the attendants who stock the mini-bars, according to the agreement.