The Twin Cities hospitality industry is reeling from COVID-19 shut-downs.

“The vast majority of our hotel membership is not working right now,” reported Sheigh Freeberg, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 17. “Most of our folks are looking to unemployment.”

“Some of our hotels are completely closed,” Freeberg said, while a few are operating at a very reduced level, with maybe only one or two housekeepers still working.

“All of the food and beverage [services] in our hotels are completely shut down,” Freeberg added.

“We have been asking the hotels to cover  health insurance for the members,” Freeberg reported. Some hotels are agreeing but some are not, he said.

At the MSP airport, where Local 17 members prepare and deliver meals for in-flight meals, Freeberg said “about 90 percent of Skychefs has been laid off.”

Inside the airport itself, he said, “the airport still has food and beverage but its extremely limited. People are beginning to get laid-off.”

Additional help for hospitality industry workers who are filing for unemployment insurance also is in the works.

“We will be having a hospitality industry relief fund that will be partially staffed by our staff and run by Working Partnerships of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation,” Freeberg said. “We are working as fast as possible to get that off the ground for folks.”

The local hospitality relief fund will be a joint effort by UNITE HERE Local 17, IATSE Local 13, and the MRLF.

For more information about the local hospitality relief fund, e-mail Andie Whitaker at

Nationally, UNITE HERE also has established a relief fund. Donations can be made online or by mailing in a check. Donors can specify that they want their donation to benefit members of UNITE HERE Local 17. Click here to donate and choose “Local 17, Minneapolis.”

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