Taylor Swift has been proven to be a hot commodity, not just to her fans but also to the American economy. As a result, the music icon’s support is being sought by local hotel worker union Unite Here Local 11 in its strike for better wages and against “junk fees,” which are extra charges added on to room rates that help the companies, not the workers.
“We want Taylor Swift to postpone her upcoming concert until our employers agree to a fair wage and our demands that we have already requested for over a month, or past the deadline of our contract,” said Alaink Temple, personal concierge of the Waldorf Astoria.
The singer-songwriter was featured in Time magazine’s 2017 “Person of the Year” issue, which dubbed several women pushing for change (including prominent voices of the MeToo movement) as “Silence Breakers, alongside hotel employees Juana Melara and Sandra Pezqueda.
“You know, we actually worked together in 2017, where two of our housekeepers, Juana Malara and Sandra Pezqueda, joined Taylor as ‘silence breakers’ for Time magazine. And so, we know she’s always been a fierce advocate for women,” said Unite Here Local 11 member and self-described “Swiftie” Maria Hernandez. “Taylor Swift has stood by women throughout her career. She, herself, was a silence breaker.”
In an open letter to the singer published via an ad in the Los Angeles Times, housekeepers are asking Swift to postpone her SoFi Stadium concerts kicking off next week in Inglewood to support fair wages for the workers.
“We are hotel housekeepers across Los Angeles. We make beds, clean bathrooms, and take care of every guest’s needs,” the workers say in the letter. They also say that when Swift comes to town, the hotels make huge profits comparable to the Super Bowl, also known as a “Swift Lift,” yet the employees and staff do not personally see any financial gain.
“Your shows make our hotels a lot of money. In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming. They also add junk fees on rooms, just like Ticketmaster does. But we see none of it,” the group says.
Some of the workers say they have even been forced to live in their cars. “People are complaining about homelessness; like, seriously, this is America. This is not supposed to happen,” Temple says.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Swift pumps up the hotel economy in whichever city she’s performing in, while market research firm QuestionPro estimates that her Eras tour could boost the global economy by a whopping $5 billion.
“A lot of these hotels are going to double, sometimes triple, their rates next week when Taylor comes into town because they’re trying to line their pockets,” Hernandez said.
When Swift made a three-day tour stop at Soldier Field in Chicago, the city boasted an all-time record of hotel bookings and profits for the weekend, with more than 44,000 rooms booked every night the singer was there for a total of $39 million in hotel revenue. Occupancy rates reportedly averaged 96.8 percent.
As of now, negotiations on a new contract for the hotel works have not gone well for either side, Hernandez said.
“We had negotiations last week, and they went backwards,” she said, adding: “You know, they represent the man. They chose to, instead of listening to their workers, they chose to walk out of the room and not come back.”
Workers like Ana Cortes, a housekeeper and letter signer for the Beverly Hilton, also want Swift to support the striking workers in their fight for benefits and retirement payouts.
“Support all room attendants because now we [are on] strike because [we] want to demand good benefits, for the salaries and the pension and medical insurance,” Cortes said, adding that the workers’ pay rate is simply not livable. “The salaries that we have allowed [cannot] support the families and pay the rent.”
Temple believes that the singer should be there for her “Swifties” who are under the thumb of hotel management. “Taylor Swift has always been a person who stands up for justice, and we are asking for justice for all of us,” Temple said.
A rep for Swift did not respond to a request for comment.