SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb is in final talks with the Services Employees International Union over an agreement to encourage the short-term rental company’s hosts to use unionized cleaners who are paid at least $15 an hour, the company said.
Under the agreement, Airbnb would endorse the SEIU’s national campaign for a $15 minimum wage. Airbnb would also urge its hosts to use union-backed cleaning services and would point hosts to such services on its website.
The agreement would allow the San Francisco-based company to “leverage the Airbnb platform to help create quality union jobs that pay a livable wage,” said Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty.
The agreement could give Airbnb much needed political goodwill as it faces efforts aimed against it in cities across the country. Opponents say it turns neighborhoods into hotel strips, takes much needed housing off the market and harms workers in the hotel industry.
UNITE HERE, a union that represents hotel workers among others, was “appalled” by news of the pending agreement and called upon the SEIU to reject any partnership with Airbnb, a company it says has “destroyed communities by driving up housing costs and killing good hotel jobs,” in the words of spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel.
She accused Airbnb of showing blatant disregard for city and state laws and refusing to cooperate with government agencies.
“A partnership with SEIU does little more than give political cover to Airbnb. It doesn’t strengthen workers, and in fact undercuts the standards we’ve fought so hard to build for housekeepers in the hospitality industry,” she said.
The Airbnb negotiations come as unions nationally are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, a campaign that has gained steam this spring under the banner of Fight for $15.
California became the largest state to enact a $15 minimum wage law, in January. The base earnings law will go into effect in six years, in 2022.
A SEIU spokesperson said no formal relationship or agreement between the Union and Airbnb currently exists, but that it was always looking for new ways to support working people and regularly talked with companies that were committed to doing right by their workers.
Written by Elizabeth Weise of USA Today