In what’s shaping up as a rather eventful week at the Chelsea Hotel, staff members have been told to stop taking reservations after August 2. So if you want to spend one more night at the Chelsea Hotel before it closes, now is your last chance.
Though this latest move could mean many things (such as the chance to do construction under reduced scrutiny), the most obvious is that it will give Chetrit (if he closes the sale of the hotel) a way to bust the union. Although, as required before the sale negogitations could go forward, the notoriously anti-union developer met with representatives of Hotel Workers Local a couple of weeks ago, signing a union contract good until July 2012, it looks like he’s now having second thoughts. Either that, or he planned this all along, knowing he could render the contract meaningless with this stratagem.
Chetrit can afford to do this because the hotel has made so little money under Marlene Krauss that it will not really affect the income. As everything the hotel takes in is going out in expenses, Chetrit could actually end up making more money just by cutting staff.
Which brings us to the most painful part of this post, the human toll that such a move will inevitably have, a consideration that Krauss and Chetrit seem constitutionally unable to comprehend. For it looks as if at least some union employees, many of whom have been around for years and even decades and are a valued part of the Chelsea Hotel family, will be laid off. Chetrit would then presumably contract out the remaining jobs, or perhaps keep a skeleton staff of the non-union employees. Then, after a year, once the union contract has expired, Chetrit will simply reopen the Chelsea as a non-union hotel. (Staff were told that reservations would begin to be taken again in a year—though a lot can happen in that time.)
We hope that this is not the case, as it would be a loss that the hotel can ill-afford if it is ever to return to its former glory. Union reps were at the hotel today, meeting with lame duck manager Arnold Tamasar, and employees were told they would hear more on Monday. We will let you know when we learn the details of this unconscionable plot, though keep in mind that the sale of the hotel has not yet been finalized. But don’t be surprised if you see a big fat rat outside the hotel sometime soon. Besides Chetrit, I mean.