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New Orleans hospitality workers demand changes amid COVID-19 concerns


NEW ORLEANS — Some hospitality workers say the city is leaving them so unprotected against COVID-19 that they want the Mayor to stop telling tourists to come to New Orleans.

Members of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance confronted the Mayor Tuesday and showed up un-announced at the Mayor’s press conference.

The group initially protested outside City Hall for roughly 30 minutes with a list of demands for the Mayor. When they didn’t get the access they wanted, they showed up un-announced at her press conference at Gallier Hall.

The alliance wants safer work places, hazard pay and income protection during the pandemic.

“You can welcome tourists that brought the COVID,” said organizer Mickey Davis. “We didn’t bring COVID here. This is our livelihood. We live here and we have to deal with that aftermath.”

The alliance maintains they’ve reached out to Cantrell multiple times and even attempted to deliver a letter with their demands. When they didn’t hear back or get anywhere, they quietly showed up at Cantrell’s press conference hoping to talk with her.

Kay Geary said, “This was our only way to get in touch with a Mayor that’s supposed to be representing us. If they’re concerned about what their constituents want than why don’t you talk to them? She makes it absolutely imposible.”

WGNO asked Cantrell to address their concerns.

“As it relates to accessibility, I don’t know a mayor that’s more accessible than I am,” Cantrell said. “I check my own emails, there’s not a backlog from one day to the next.”

The Mayor says New Orleans is a welcoming city and tourists have visited throughout the pandemic. Like residents she expects them to follow the COVID guidelines and mask up.

Cantrell told one protestor, “I’m willing to work with you every step of the way. Even as it relates to hazard pay. We’re no different. I don’t see anything you’re advocating for that I’m not for.”

After the press conference, the Mayor took nearly 10 minutes to talk with protestors. Cantrell explained when it comes to some of their demands, it becomes a state issue and they have to know where to advocate.

“We can work together, but we have to have the facts,” Cantrell said.

The Hospitality Workers Alliance is still not satisfied with Cantrell’s response. They believe she can help and needs to stand with the workers risking their lives to keep the city open.

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