WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Colonial Williamsburg hospitality workers came together Saturday afternoon to rally for better working conditions.
Saturday afternoon 100 Colonial Williamsburg workers from the hotels and restaurants in the Historic District area rallied together on the Northwest corner of S. England Street and Newport Avenue.
The workers are represented by a hospitality worker union, UNITE HERE Local 25.
The union says the workers have gone from extended lay-offs during the pandemic to brutally long work weeks. Now, they’re fighting for a strong contract with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation that addresses their working conditions.
According to the union, they’re calling for better wages and treatment. They say the workers want better pay, more affordable healthcare, an end to mandatory overtime, and to be able to spend more time with their families and loved ones.
During Saturday's rally, the union's Executive Secretary-Treasurer, John Boardman, spoke on the workers' concerns. The union represents over 200 workers at Colonial Williamsburg and over 7,200 in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation told News 3 they provided the workers with an offer that gives a 23.5% raise to the lowest-paid employees, effective immediately.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says the Union’s most recent allegations about race are "outrageous and predictable." The foundation says diversity, equity and inclusion are three of this foundation’s highest priorities, and they do not discriminate. They say the offer they have made is generous and fair and includes the pay increases and benefits the staff deserves.
According to the foundation, they have offered the following raises for employees in the bargaining unit, with no change to health insurance or retirement benefits:
NON-TIPPED EMPLOYEES — Effective Dec. 5, 2021, receive a minimum of $15.50 per hour or a $2.95 an hour increase, whichever is higher. Additionally:
- Effective July 1, 2022, minimum pay will rise to $16.00 per hour for non-tipped staff, or they will receive a $.50 an hour increase, whichever is higher.
- Effective January 1, 2023, minimum pay will rise to $16.40 per hour for non-tipped staff, or they will receive a $.40 an hour increase, whichever is higher.
- Additional raises are scheduled for July 2023, 2024 and 2025 which would increase the minimum hourly rate to $18.40, with corresponding increases for those presently making more than $15.00.
TIPPED EMPLOYEES — Effective Dec. 5, 2021, receive a minimum of $7.37 per hour or a $1.00 an hour increase, whichever is higher. The tip credit will also drop from $2.25 per hour to $2.13. Additionally:
- Effective July 1, 2022, the minimum hourly rate will rise to $8.87 for tipped staff, or they will receive a $.50 an hour increase, whichever is higher.
- Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum hourly rate will rise to $9.87 for tipped staff, or they will receive a $.40 on hour increase, whichever is higher.
- Additional raises are scheduled in 2024 and 2025.
RATIFICATION BONUS — Every non-tipped employee will receive a ratification bonus of $750 and every tipped employee will receive a ratification bonus of $375 in the next pay period following the Union’s acceptance of their proposal.
They say they have offered to make Juneteenth a paid company holiday for union employees as well.
In regards to overtime concerns, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says they believe the higher wages will help recruit new employees which will reduce the overtime burden.
They say they have been unable to reach an agreement with the union on a few changes that they say would allow union representatives from D.C. to interrupt employees during work hours and would eliminate the use of temporary employees overtime.
The foundation also tells News 3 that despite reports that workers may have to go on strike to keep from losing one's job, Colonial Williamsburg has no intention of terminating anyone because of these negotiations.