BOSTON (AP) — One of Boston’s most luxurious hotels has let go about half its staff even though hotels in Massachusetts are now allowed to reopen under Phase 2 of Gov. Charlie Baker’s coronavirus economic recovery plan.
The nearly 200 workers laid off by the Four Seasons were told they would be able to reapply for their jobs, but some tell The Boston Globe they received less than half the severance they were entitled to.
The hotel, located on Boylston Street and overlooking the Public Garden, furloughed employees after closing March 24, then conducted the layoffs last month. It is currently taking reservations starting June 23.
The state’s hotels were allowed to reopen to guests on Monday, but still aren’t allowed to schedule any events, functions or meetings.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the travel and hospitality industry has been devastating and Four Seasons Hotel Boston is not immune,” hotel management said in a statement. “The extreme loss of revenues has forced us to make some difficult decisions to reduce costs while managing the short- and long-term business realities. This includes permanent layoffs.”
Unite Here Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo is concerned that the layoffs are the beginning of widespread terminations in the lodging industry in an attempt to permanently eliminate jobs or start over with a lower-paid workforce. The hospitality workers’ union is assisting the Four Seasons staff, which is not unionized.
Mass layoffs in the industry would disproportionately affect people of color, he said.
With the help of the union, 46 former Four Seasons employees sent a letter to hotel management rejecting the “disrespectful, even insulting” severance offer.