Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tip Maids for Service

Do you tip hotel housekeepers?

Marriott and Maria Shriver have teamed up to bring attention to the maids who clean our hotel rooms. They are [rightly] concerned that maids aren't receiving their true value. To demonstrate their concern, they have started a campaign to leave envelopes in hotel rooms so that the maids who clean our rooms are recognized and valued for their hard work.

On one hand, I'm all for it! We've become accustomed to it with restaurant servers. In fact, it would be very rude and wrong to not tip at a restaurant. However, in a hotel, I forget to do this all of the time. Part of it is because I'm not sure if we're supposed to tip maids and part of it is, in my hurry to leave, I just forget. I've worked as a hotel maid before. I know the work is hard. I want to acknowledge the people that do that hard work.

In a Think Progress article, they explain:
The gratuity guide from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry trade group, suggests tipping housekeepers $1 to $5 a night, left in a daily envelope with a note. But Cornell University Professor Michael Lynn told the AP that his research shows that 30 percent of guests don’t tip. Housekeeping staff makes up the largest share of employees at Marriott hotels, numbering 20,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
Housekeeping isn’t considered a tipped occupation, so workers have to be paid at least the minimum wage. But the pay still tends to be very low. Median pay for all maids and housekeepers is $9.41 an hour. While some unionized Marriott housekeepers make $18.30 an hour, they’re an outlier: GlassDoor reports that their hourly pay is about $8.32 an hour, while a 2006 ranking said they make just $22,075 a year

But then another thought hit me...

"Wait a minute! Why am I being expected to pay the maids??" When I stay at a hotel, I pay the bill. The bill is what I would assume the company uses to pay the staff that it takes to support the hotel. But, it seems that, once again, the high level executives are more interested in maintaining their salary and pushing down the cost of paying their workers to the people who are making much less than them.

Yes, we're used to it with restaurants. Heck, most servers only get paid $2.13/hour! ...and that's a legal wage! I can understand tipping your hair dresser because theirs is usually a self-employed job. I feel similarly about cab drivers and any other profession where the person is working on their own to provide a service. But the industry (i.e. high level executives) has begun convincing us that we need to tip (aka: pay) airport skycaps, shuttle drivers, and anyone they don't want to so that they can maintain their own salary.

Somewhat different, but with the same result, are companies like Walmart as well, who don't expect us to tip their people, but is a billion (or is it trillion??) dollar company that pays their workers minimally, which then results in many of their workers applying for food stamps and government assistance. The assistance they receive (which is fully justified because of their salary level) comes right from yours and my paycheck in the form of taxes. Once again, the executives have pushed their costs onto us.

By all means, tip the maid. They deserve it. But don't get sucked in to Marriott or Maria Shriver's seeming empathy. True empathy and understanding would be holding the hotel chain accountable to paying their workers the pay they believe they deserve instead of expecting someone else to foot the bill.
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