The entrance to the historic Omni Berkshire Place hotel is now barricaded.
The East 52nd Street Hotel was built in 1926 by the company that designed Grand Central Terminal. In 1942, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote “Oklahoma! at the location.
But once the pandemic struck, the hospitality industry collapsed.
“Two hundred and sixteen of us were laid off without a penny in severance pay or health care. In the midst of a global pandemic, New York City, which was the epicenter,” said Tamara Lynch, waitress at Omni’s restaurant for 13 years.
What would you like to know
- The Omni Berkshire Place Hotel was built in 1926 by the company that designed Grand Central Terminal
- Employees said on June 8 they had been told the COVID-19 layoffs would be extended indefinitely as the hotel was now permanently closed
- The Omni chain is run by Texas billionaire Robert Rowling
- Report: The chain reached $ 84 million under the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, a loan structured as an incentive for the company to keep its employees on the payroll.
Lynch was put on leave in March when restaurants were closed to diners. Lynch says that on June 8, employees received WARN notices that the layoffs would be extended indefinitely because the hotel was now permanently closed.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the Omni chain, run by Texas billionaire Robert Rowling, has received up to $ 84 million under the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan structured as an incentive for the company to keep its employees on the payroll.
“I think it’s morally wrong that you take 216 people and throw them out on the streets after they’ve served you faithfully and brought you millions of dollars and in the midst of our most incredible needs here in New York.” , said Lynch.
Longtime employees wiped away tears – while talking about the next step.
“Devastated. It left me speechless. I couldn’t believe the owner would ever, ever close this place, ”said Georgeta Ionescu, who worked at the Omni for 23 years. “I was like, ‘I’m going to get by on a pension.’ “
“And just to have all those years – 21 – and for me to go out and maybe try to change careers at my age?” It’s difficult, ”said Kelly Orama, a former employee.
A source familiar with the negotiations said management is negotiating severance pay under the worker’s contract. It includes cash payment, compensation for unused leave and additional health coverage.
The Hospitality Trades Council, the union representing workers, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Omni Hotels said the PPP money the company received was essential to its survival. The program states that loans must be repaid if employees are made redundant. The spokesperson said that any part of the PPP loan that was not canceled would be repaid with interest. She said Omni would pay severance pay, and added that there was no plan for the building at the moment.
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