Letter: Downtown hotels should pay living wage

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I just read that the newly defined living wage in Buncombe County is $13.65 per hour ($12.15 with health insurance). It may be beyond the city’s power to enforce this wage (thanks to our dysfunctional parent, the state of North Carolina), but perhaps protests and group efforts could force at least the downtown hotels to pay all  their employees at least this amount.

All the talk about the benefits of tourism on Asheville is justified, as anyone who remembers Asheville of the 1990s can attest, but those benefits haven’t been distributed equally to residents. A living wage would go a long way to correct that.

And I believe the current room rates support this raise. If downtown hotels are getting $600 a night (a night!), then some of that money should trickle down to the workers supporting that establishment. I’m not commenting on the hotel moratorium; I’m focused here on the sharing of those proceeds — yes, a redistribution (however slight) of the wealth so that local workers can at least afford to live here.

As real estate prices climb and cost of living goes up and up, the only solution is to pay workers more. You can’t make the argument that this wage increase would cripple a hotel that’s getting $600 a night even part of the year. My two cents.

— Mark H. Bloom



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11 thoughts on “Letter: Downtown hotels should pay living wage

  1. Lulz

    That’s not a living wage. 15 is minimum. 20 is a living. For all their talk, people in this town should be ashamed that it really represents to what amounts as cheap slave labor. Blaming Raleigh as every crony corrupt leftist is good at is not an excuse.

  2. Mike

    Want to increase your wages? Organize a coalition of hotel workers. A “union”, of sorts. The purpose is to threaten the hotels with a large walkout of staff. A “strike”, of sorts. Have commitments from enough workers that they will indeed not report for work upon the appointed day unless wages are raised. Be prepared to have your “bluff called” and actually have to walk out.

    The risk is not having enough workers signed up to make the strike significant to the point that the hotels can’t operate. Someone or somebodies need to organize this effort and get a majority of workers from multiple hotels to sign up and commit to walking out should the hotels not raise wages.

    Start your wage increase demands high and expect to lower them and compromise with the hotels. If the hotels say they can’t pay any more in wages, ask them to provide their financial balance sheets that would show their income and expenses (including all wages and salaries) and what their bottom line is in net profit. If they refuse to provide this and won’t increase wages, then strike.

    You don’t need an “official union” to do this but you do need people that can organize and are leaders. Official unions became corrupt in the past and became more self serving (with high salaries to their leaders) than serving for the workers. Don’t let that happen again.

    Good luck.

    • Lulz

      Many in the industry are immigrants from down south. And many won’t unionize for fear of rocking the boat. Otherwise I agree. Policy around here is to ensure that a minority makes millions while being subsidized by the rest.

  3. Peter Robbins

    Say what? Capitalism is paying slave wages? Workers of the world, unite!

    • Lulz

      Better rethink that. Crony capitalism with a willing DEMOCRAT council that not only ensures that this continues. But also prevents COMPETITION from Airbnbs. And a county commission that refuses to rescind the room tax to the tourism board.

      • Peter Robbins

        What’s to rethink? Unions, strikes, workers committees, monopoly capitalism, discredited liberalism — you fellers have got it all. To the barricades, comrade! All power to the soviets!

      • Jay

        U fail to realize BOTH party are to blame for what u deem corrupt government… EVERYTHING i read u say about democrats go double for the republicans

    • Jay

      If workers of the workers of united; ud have government crackdowns all in the name of the war on terror.
      Thanx to the OBAMA implementation of The national Defense authorization act; it would be absolutely impossible for workers to unite as the government has given Themselves the right to monitor and access phone calls and emails. Our government would immediately deem the “united” as a domestic terrorist organization and would detain them indefinitely without due process…
      So YA!
      Good luck with that, But keep believing that we’re the freest country in the world! Lol

  4. C-Law

    Why stop at half-measures?

    Let’s go all out I say. If we can send 100s of billions to Ukraine, Israel, and elsewhere, surely Congress can put US citizens down for some kind of universal guaranteed income/stipend. I think I’d be good with about $50,000 a month for me and my family of 5. Hell, that was good enough for Hunter Biden, I can make it work with our household budget too, ha!

  5. Jay

    “As real estate prices climb and cost of living goes up and up, the only solution is to pay workers more. “

    Unfortunately, if someone willing (needing) to do The job for low pay that amount becomes the wage. That’s the way our SLAVE economy works; we are all slaves to the wealthy.

    • C-Law

      Exactly Jay.

      Congressional deficit spending and the Fed’s policies have stolen the wealth of all of us…doesn’t matter if you pull for team D or team R. It’s all bread and circuses…they are the UniParty! Elections and voting are meaningless, meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

      As Jay said we are all wage slaves to the political and financial classes.

      Pretty surreal living here at the end of the American Empire…aggressive abroad, despotic at home…

      The reckoning point will be about or a bit before 2024, as that is when Medicare and Medicaid will blow up the Federal budget. Looking back at history I would guess the globalist bankers may have to play the “world war” card again…

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