The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) recently hosted its Hotels on the Hill fly-in on Capitol Hill, with more than 200 hoteliers representing 30-plus states meeting with members of Congress to share how labor shortages are impacting hotels and lobby for policies to help grow the hotel workforce.
The event included more than 100 meetings with House and Senate offices, including House and Senate leadership.
“Harnessing the voices of local hoteliers from across the country is the most effective way to achieve advocacy victories,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA. “That’s why AHLA’s Capitol Hill fly-in event, Hotels on the Hill, is so important. When AHLA members speak with their representatives, Congress listens. The face-to-face connections Hotels on the Hill facilitates are the most effective way to strengthen relationships with influential lawmakers and illustrate to Congress the essential role hotels play in creating jobs and supporting communities.”
During the event, hoteliers urged Congress to:
- Expand the legal H-2B guestworker program by including an H-2B Returning Worker Exemption in the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. The H-2B program is vital to helping independent hotels and resorts in remote vacation destinations fill seasonal roles, but the program is capped at 66,000 visas each year. AHLA is asking Congress to modify the H-2B nonimmigrant visa program by exempting returning workers from the inadequate 66,000 annual visa cap. These employees would provide critical staffing relief for seasonal small business hotels and help to rebuild the post-pandemic economy.
- Cosponsor and pass the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act. A historic number of asylum seekers are already housed in hotels across America. They are awaiting court dates and are following the legal process. Unfortunately, current law prevents them from legally working for at least six months, forcing them to rely on assistance from local governments and communities. This bipartisan legislation would help hotels address critical staffing needs by allowing asylum seekers to work as soon as 30 days after applying for asylum.
- Cosponsor and pass the Save Local Business Act. The National Labor Relations Board has proposed a new “joint employer” legal standard that would subjectively determine which entities would be considered co-employers for collective bargaining purposes. The NLRB regulation would minimize franchisees’ control over their own businesses, severely complicate hotels’ ability to contract with independent vendors and allow courts and government bureaucrats to subjectively determine joint-employment liability. The Save Local Business Act would clarify the definition of an employer as an entity with direct control over specific working conditions.
America’s nearly 62,500 hotels support nearly 1 in 25 American jobs, help drive nearly $760 billion into the U.S. economy and support more than $211 billion in federal, state and local taxes each year. To continue these positive economic contributions in communities across the country, hotels need to hire more people.
There are more than 100,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation, and as of March, national average hotel wages were near all-time highs at more than $23 per hour. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.