It would be an understatement to say that hospitality workers have been impacted by the pandemic, especially in a tourist Mecca like Florida.
On Friday, over a hundred furloughed employees of the Diplomat Beach Resort gathered for a demonstration in front of the property in Hollywood.
The hotel has been closed for over a year as a result of the pandemic, but the workers who demonstrated said they are concerned about getting their jobs back whenever tourism returns to the area.
"We want to make sure that when the business comes back to the Diplomat, that these workers come back with the business,” said Wendi Walsh, secretary and treasurer of Unite Here Local 355.
The union represents 650 employees who temporarily lost their jobs last year. Many employees like Harry East, have over 20 years of experience working with the Diplomat.
“We want to make sure that they hire us back. The Diplomat is not this building. The Diplomat is us, because we’re the ones that have developed relationships with our guests and we understand our guests and we want to make our guests feel special. So we don’t want the Diplomat to go down, we want to raise it up again,” said East.
The union said they have been in talks with Brookfield Properties, who owns the 1,000-room hotel, but they said there’s been no official commitment that the workers will get their jobs back.
Several employees signed letters to Brookfield Properties and Aimbrige saying they are ready to come back to work whenever that might be and that they want to ensure that the company doesn’t hire cheaper, less qualified workers.
"They haven’t told us when they’re opening or how they’re opening. We are very happy to work with them to make it a smooth transition to reopen after being closed for a year, but the first fundamental thing they have to do is give these workers the security of knowing that they’re gonna come back to work,” said Walsh.
In a statemen, a spokesperson with the Diplomat said they don't know when they will be able to reopen the hotel.
"Unlike smaller, tourist-supported hotels, group hotels like the Diplomat cannot function without conventions and events operating at full or near-full capacity," the statement read. "It is an unfortunate reality for the Diplomat community and its workforce, as well as all of the local restaurants and businesses that rely on conventions and the people they bring."