April 22, 2016
By Labor News Services & WNYLT Staff
San Francisco, CA- Airbnb, a web site for people to list, find, and rent lodging, is in negotiations to cut a deal with one of the nation’s biggest Labor Unions that would employ Unionized Home Cleaners who are paid at least $15 per hour, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The agreement between the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) and the home rental start-up takes place amid a national campaign being waged by Unions and their allies for a $15 Minimum Wage. Thousands of Low-Wage Workers across the country went on Strike last week in support of it and Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have thrown their weight behind the Fight for $15 movement, which has put the issue of Economic Inequality at the center of their campaigns. In addition, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill this month to gradually increase the state’s Hourly Minimum Wage to $15 by 2022. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed similar legislation the same day.
Under the terms being discussed, Airbnb – which has previously been at odds with Unions, will endorse the Union’s Fight for $15 Campaign and encourage vendors who provide services to homeowners on the Airbnb platform to pay their Staff at least $15 per hour.
The platform will also direct Airbnb hosts to cleaners who have been given a seal of approval from SEIU. The cleaners will be trained, certified and provide Green Home Cleaning Services to Airbnb hosts, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
The initiative is modeled off a pilot program, announced last year, between Airbnb and Cooperative Cleaning, a Brooklyn-based, Worker-Owned cleaning agency. Workers in the pilot have cleaned 1,300 Airbnb listings and they are paid $15 an hour. They also receive benefits, including health care coverage, overtime, disability insurance and leave. And, they are also Members of SEIU.
The deal would give San Francisco-based Airbnb, which has raised $2.3 billion and is privately valued at $25.5 billion by venture capitalists, new ammunition for its myriad political battles. In cities across the country, opponents of Airbnb have argued that the eight-year-old start-up is accelerating gentrification by reducing the supply of available housing units that would otherwise go to locals if they weren’t being rented out on Airbnb.
The agreement with SEIU allows the company to make the claim that it is creating good jobs for local residents. That’s one prong in a wider strategy to endear itself to local governments. The strategy includes offering to pay more local taxes, sharing data with municipalities and cracking down on landlords who break rules.
Earlier this year, the company’s policy chief, a former Bill Clinton aide named Chris Lehane, met with hundreds of mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors to make the argument that cities benefit from Airbnb homeowners’ tax contributions. Read more