NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – There are accusations of mistreatment of employees at one of New York’s most famous hotels.
Longtime employees of the Roosevelt Hotel say the owner closed it during the pandemic and has left them out in the cold ever since.
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Dozens of about 500 employees on leave from the famous Roosevelt Hotel have shown up in front of what they call their second home, eager to express their anger and despair.
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“We just want answers. That’s it, ”a man told CBS2’s Jessica Moore on Monday.
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“It’s like watching your house burn down,” added Marcia Fabian.
Fabian spent 22 years at the hotel reception and was the last person inside last December the day the pandemic turned out to be a bigger storm than the historic hotel could handle.
“They shouldn’t ignore us all. All the years that we have devoted to this work, they have saved us money. And we loved doing that, but now they have to answer us, ”she said.
Moore asked employee Manuel Braga what it was like to see the hotel barricaded and dark.
“It’s very sad to see him like that. This place used to shine, ”he said.
The once golden exterior of the Roosevelt is now clad in black plywood, and the farewell message on its website seems to provide more information than the hundreds of dedicated former employees.
“Many of us here have worked for over 20 years, our entire lives, our livelihoods, and we still have no answers,” said Isalina Minaya. “Is the hotel going to reopen?” Are we going to receive any severance pay? What will happen to us, to our families?
So far, the hotel has paid out $ 7 million in severance packages to employees, which the union forced through arbitration. This translates to about $ 14,000 per employee over the course of a year.
The owners are currently suing the city to avoid paying the $ 500 weekly severance package demanded of closed hotels with at least 100 rooms.
“As the overwhelming majority of hotels are working with employees to reopen the city’s hotels and tourism economy, the Roosevelt has been extremely difficult,” union leader Austin Shafran said. “They refused to provide the union with information on future building projects. “
The future of the building is essential. In the event of reopening, employees are entitled to it. If turned into residential property, owners are legally required to pay all employees 15 days’ wages per year of service – a significant amount of money for many.
“Twenty-one years, four months and 13 days,” said one employee in tears.
“I just want everyone to be okay, that’s all. Even if we go elsewhere, ”said Minaya. “Just an answer, a conclusion… from someone showing us they care.” “
The hotel is owned by the Pakistan Air Ministry, which has so far declined to comment on future plans for the building, but says the rumors of the sale are purely speculative.
The Roosevelt is one of the few hotels to sue the city over its $ 500 decision on weekly severance pay.