Look, obviously, it’s ridiculous that your ability to get health care — to live — depends on the whims of your employer in this dumb, dumb country. But that’s the system we’re stuck with, and that’s why you might see piles of dead bodies outside the Hilton Seattle.
Yesterday dozens of Hilton workers staged a die-in outside the hotel, protesting Hilton’s decision to cut off their access to health care in the middle of a global pandemic. At the protest, a Grim Reaper walked the workers out to the sidewalk alongside a black casket. I can’t even imagine how stressful this must have been for the participants, for whom death isn’t just some abstract far-off possibility, but a very real threat now that their bosses have decided they shouldn’t be able to afford to go to the doctor.
Back in March, the workers’ union fund extended health coverage to workers who had been laid off. But that only lasted for three months, at which point the Hilton hotels had the option of continuing coverage through the end of the year at half the normal cost. Five Hilton hotels in the region decided that no, that’s okay, they’ll just let the coverage (and possibly lives) expire.
According to Unite Here Local 8, the hotels that decided not to extend health coverage are the Hilton Seattle, the Arctic Club Seattle, the Hilton and Doubletree near Seatac Airport, the Duniway Portland, and the Hilton Portland Downtown.
Meanwhile, in Houston, Hilton hotels will extend benefits through at least the end of September. How about that.
Included in the cuts to health care are employees who still work at the hotels, but had their hours cut and are no longer full-time. John Langdon, an engineer at the Seattle Hilton, said in a statement, “every day I go into work, I am risking contracting the virus and bringing it home to my family … Our hotel has been open and operating since this pandemic started, and we are risking exposure so that the hotel can keep its revenue coming in.”
Of course, this whole disaster isn’t entirely the hotel’s fault; we just happen to live in a bad country that would rather let tons of people die than provide even the most rudimentary of social programs. Enjoy your stay!