Hotel and restaurant workers in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, are demanding more wages and improved working conditions. On Saturday, around 100 hospitality workers demonstrated on S. England St. and Newport Ave.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the workers union are negotiating a new contract after the existing one expired on November 30.
“We still aren’t making enough money to take care of our families, barely,” said Linda Pusey, who has worked in the area’s hotel business for more than 30 years. She is one of many restaurant and hotel workers that gathered and marched during the Grand Illumination, one of the area’s most popular events.
According to John Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of LOCAL 25, employees are regularly scheduled for six- and seven-day workweeks, which were “exacerbated” during the epidemic.
“What we’re saying is there has to be a balance between work and life,” said Boardman.
Negotiations have been ongoing since May, as per Dana Tomlin, Chief of Staff for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and they are keen to achieve an agreement before the holidays.
“Colonial Williamsburg is dedicated to providing meaningful raises to our dedicated and hardworking employees,” Tomlin said.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation offered a proposal to the union last week that included 23.5 percent pay hikes for its lowest-paid employees, effective immediately if agreed upon.
Non-tipped employees will get a minimum of $15.50 per hour, or a $2.95 per hour raise, while tipped employees will receive a minimum of $7.37 per hour, or a $1.00 per hour increase. The minimum wage will be raised again in July 2022 and January 2023, as per the plan.
The pandemic’s impact on the hospitality industry is still being felt, as labor shortages pose a problem to businesses across the country. The purpose, according to Tomlin, is to offer staff relief.