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The Ethical Traveler: Be Good To Housekeeping

Several progressive Jewish organizations have launched a new campaign this holiday season that’ll make you think twice before you save money by blindly letting Priceline.com choose you the cheapest hotel.

The “Travel Justly” campaign is designed to raise awareness about the lousy working conditions (long hours, low pay, taxing physical labor, and no health insurance) for many hotel housekeepers, the vast majority of whom are female immigrants, or women of color.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Rabbi-in-Residence at Jewish FundS for Justice, which is one of the campaign’s spearheaders, explained why this is a Jewish issue: “Hotel housekeepers engage daily in hakhnasat or’chim (hospitality to guests), by cleaning rooms, making beds, and otherwise ensuring that we are comfortable. As travelers, we must reciprocate by advocating for safe working conditions and fair wages for hotel workers.”
Not to mention the many laws governing the way Jews are supposed to treat their workers — very well! (In fact here’s what Rabbi Jacobs has to say on that very subject)

The campaign is the work of JFSJ, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the Jewish Labor Committee (we Jews are so organized, aren’t we?). They are asking travelers — Jewish and non-Jewish — to “sign a pledge to be ethical hotel guests this holiday season.” Which means: not staying “in hotels that are in the midst of a labor dispute,” staying in a “union hotel” when possible, not being obnoxiously messy so as to prevent unnecessary strain on housekeeping workers, and tipping housekeepers the suggested amount of $2-5 per day.

You can even buy a luggage tag to remind you of all this.

To read the full text and sign the pledge, or to find out more, visit the campaign’s website at http://ga6.org/campaign/ethical_travel.

–Rebecca Honig Friedman