Hotel Worker Dies From COVID-19 After Fontainebleau Cut His Health Insurance Coverage

Hotel Worker Dies From COVID-19 After Fontainebleau Cut His Health Insurance Coverage

WHO: Hotel workers from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, UNITE HERE Local 355 hospitality workers, family and friends of German Amaya.

WHAT: Press conference at German Amaya’s wake ceremony

WHERE: Maspons Funeral Home, 3500 SW 8th Street Miami FL 33135

WHEN: Saturday, August 8 at 3:30 pm

WHY: For 11 years, German Amaya was a banquet houseman at one of the richest, most luxurious hotels in the U.S.: the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort. In late June the hotel cut healthcare coverage for workers laid off during this pandemic, forcing nearly 1,000 workers – including German – to lose health insurance, as the coronavirus pandemic infects record numbers in Florida.

On Friday, August 7th, German Amaya lost his fight to COVID-19, after spending one month intubated and in an induced coma at Mercy Hospital. His death is particularly painful because it highlights the healthcare, economic, and political crisis our country, and specifically Florida, is currently in. He leaves behind his wife, who was also laid off during this pandemic, and two children, who now unjustly carry the burden of needing to pay out-of-pocket for his medical expenses since the Fontainebleau cut health insurance for its laid off employees in June. When the Fontainebleau cut German’s healthcare coverage, his $10,000 death benefit was also cut, leaving his family without any aid for funeral expenses or medical bills.

During the CARES Act Congressional Oversight Commission hearing, also on Friday, August 7th, UNITE HERE Secretary-Treasurer Gwen Mills told Congresswoman Donna Shalala, “Our great concern about the Main Street Lending Program is that the hotel industry is seeking changes so that they can use the program to pay their CMBS mortgages, like the $975 million-dollar loan at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.” She added, “the Fontainebleau stopped paying for healthcare for hundreds of our laid off members, which we believe is in violation of our contract. It would be wrong for taxpayers to fund a year or two of Fontainebleau’s debt payments of $39 million a year, while laid off workers lose their health insurance and rely on the public hospital system.”

Congresswoman Donna Shalala added, “I want to point out that those workers are also taxpayers.” Watch clip here: https://unitehere.box.com/s/9jwsqcgzntcdqc96yhcaukdqgh5frwde

“We demand justice for German Amaya and that begins with the Fontainebleau covering health insurance for all workers throughout this pandemic including those who are laid off,” says Wendi Walsh, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 355.

Union leaders and UNITE HERE Local 355 hotel workers from the Fontainebleau will be available for interviews.

Press Contact: MJ Leira, mleira@unitehere.org

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UNITE HERE Local 355 is a labor union that represents over 7,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries in South Florida.