In a statement obtained by the Guardian on Thursday afternoon, SEIU said it does not have an agreement or deal with Airbnb and that it plans to work with Unite Here, a separate union that represents hotel workers and has strongly criticized the potential SEIU-Airbnb partnership.
“Representatives from SEIU and [Unite Here] met and have agreed to find a common approach to protect and expand the stock of affordable housing in all communities across the country and to protect and preserve standards for workers in residential and hotel cleaning while also growing opportunities for these cleaners to improve their lives,” SEIU’s statement said.
Unite Here welcomed SEIU’s decision to back away from a deal with Airbnb. “It is our clear understanding that SEIU will not have a deal with Airbnb to represent housekeeping services,” said Unite Here spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel.
Strassel continued: “[Unite Here] will continue to vigorously oppose any efforts by Airbnb to expand and push for commonsense laws to mitigate the devastating impact this company has had on our communities.”
Under the terms of the proposed deal, Airbnb reportedly would have endorsed a $15-an-hour minimum wage effort backed by the SEIU, directing hosts to use cleaners who were paid the minimum rate and trained and certified in “green home cleaning services”.
I still struggle to see the big problem with such an agreement. Airbnb is not going away, it’s not a major factor in rising housing prices, and it hasn’t led to hotels having vacant rooms. That’s not to say there’s not problems with Airbnb, including minor contributions to the above problems, customer safety, and the outsourcing of risk to independent contractors. But moving Airbnb toward promoting something like union work is not a terrible thing. Airbnb or similar companies are not going away and unions will need to figure out what to do about it. There may well have been problems with the proposed deal, but I’m not really seeing it.