Casino Bankruptcies (copy)

Unite Here union members picket in this Associated Press file photo.

The adage says to never let a crisis go to waste. Union leaders are taking it to heart, looking for every opportunity to strong-arm employers in the name of COVID-19 safety. As employers try to stumble back to life, unions want expensive new contracts or government-imposed mandates.

The latest display of crass union opportunism played out in San Francisco, where the Unite Here hospitality workers union pressed the Board of Supervisors to enact mandates on hotels, convention centers, and other travel and tourism businesses. Among a laundry list of onerous and expensive regulations, hotels must clean surfaces several times a day — right down to whiteboard markers and erasers in rooms that haven’t been used since the last cleaning.

Another rule forces hotels without electric doors to employ a person at every door to open and close it as guests come and go. This, of course, endangers employees and guests because no one can open a door for a person while keeping proper social distance. Hotels must pay people to repeatedly clean chandeliers throughout the day. Those and other regulations far exceed recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California’s Department of Public Health.

Expect pitches for these regulations at city halls and legislatures across the U.S., threatening to add burdens to an industry hit harder than most by the coronavirus recession.

The same union wants the Phoenix City Council to enact regulations similar to San Francisco’s. Though recently withdrawn for revisions, the union’s proposals included a rule that would couple rigorous mandatory cleaning details with limitations on how much employees can clean in a day. Cleaners would have 80 hours of paid sick leave and routine 15-minute breaks. Other proposals included everything from employee shift scheduling mandates to minimum wages. Because of a germ.

Advocates of the regulations barely veil their shakedown approach, as the mandates would not apply to employers who agree to unionization and collective bargaining. Do as we say or the government will force it on you, in the name of fighting COVID-19.

When unions pitch similar regulations in Colorado, they will threaten to make the state a more costly and less desirable destination for tourists.

Visitors to Colorado spent $22.3 billion in 2018 and directly supported 174,000 jobs. As the travel and tourism industry grows, the quality of life improves. Tourism helps pay for nearly all government services, as nearly 90 million visitors each year pay state, local, and county sales taxes that save each Colorado household an average of $658.81 annually.

Hobbling this industry with excessive regulations would hurt nearly every Colorado resident — man, woman and child alike.

Union exploits of COVID-19 are creeping into most economic sectors. The California LABOR Federation argues the pandemic provides the rationale for a “workers’ bill of rights.” The federation wants paid sick leave, higher minimum wages, job protection, and health care for ride-share drivers (i.e. Uber), food drivers (i.e. Grubhub), and others who work as free-agent contractors with fully flexible work schedules.

There could be no better way to kill the gig economy and the jobs it facilitates than to choke it with old-style union demands that don’t fit modern business models.

The federation wants to “stop ICE raids” and “protect and expand the right to form and join unions.” All because this would help us survive a virus, of course.

Moments after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, the AFL-CIO explained “this crisis highlights all the reasons why all workers must have the freedom to engage in collective bargaining.” The “all workers” agenda bolsters a serious movement to unionize sex-trade workers and “protect” them from those who enforce laws against the industry.

Furthermore, the union said, federal assistance intended to protect jobs should transform private businesses into public property. It’s a fundamental socialist platform.

“The public must receive a return in the form of equity in companies getting assistance,” the union’s website argues.

All over the country, public and private employers are struggling to survive. Shutdowns have threatened the viability of businesses and caused massive tax revenue shortfalls that spell layoffs for federal, state and local government workers.

Our country’s employers are fighting to survive and protect the jobs, prosperity, and government revenues they provide. They need life support, in the form of reasonable deregulation that allows them to breathe. Instead, they have union overlords demanding they sign bad contracts as they emerge perplexed from the induced comas known as mandatory closures.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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