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Diplomat workers protest to keep their jobs but resort’s future unknown

Massive Hollywood hotel says it needs conventions to come back in order to reopen

The massive hotel in Hollywood says it needs convention business to rebound before it can reopen, and hundreds of longtime employees fear they'll never get back their jobs.
The massive hotel in Hollywood says it needs convention business to rebound before it can reopen, and hundreds of longtime employees fear they'll never get back their jobs.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Longtime employees of the Diplomat Beach Resort were out demonstrating Friday, voicing concerns that when the Hollywood landmark reopens, they could be replaced by new, cheaper workers.

The union organizing the protests represents about 650 employees of the resort. They are officially still on furlough as the Diplomat remains closed.

There is no reopening date set for the massive, 1,000-room hotel, but it is taking reservations for June.

The union says that while other hotels have signed a commitment to bring back their furloughed employees, the Diplomat’s management has not.

They do say that both sides are talking.

“We’re here for a very simple reason. We want to make sure that when the business comes back to the Diplomat, that these workers come back with the business,” said Wendi Walsh, secretary/treasurer of the Unite Here Local 355 union.

The massive Hollywood resort remains closed, and longtime employees fear they could be replaced by cheaper workers when it does reopen.
The massive Hollywood resort remains closed, and longtime employees fear they could be replaced by cheaper workers when it does reopen.

Martha Vasquez, a Diplomat housekeeper for 17 years, noted the struggles of these employees who have been out of a job for a year after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

“We are here because we are waiting for our jobs,” she said. “We don’t have money. We need to pay the bills. We need money for food.”

Nathalie Prudhomme, a uniform attendant for almost 20 years, also wants her job back.

“I’m here today to ask the hotel to reopen, because everybody’s suffering,” she said.

The Diplomat has 209,000 square feet of convention space. Brookfield Properties, which owns the building but doesn’t run the day-to-day operations, said in a statement to Local 10 News that conventions and events are necessary for the property to reopen.

“Unfortunately, we do not know when we will be able to reopen the hotel,” the statement read. “Unlike smaller, tourist-supported hotels, group hotels like the Diplomat cannot function without conventions and events operating at full or near-full capacity. It is an unfortunate reality for the Diplomat community and its workforce, as well as all of the local restaurants and businesses that rely on conventions and the people they bring.”

A new management company, Ainbridge Hospitality, has been brought in to run the day-to-day operations.

Nobody from Ainbridge returned calls or emails Friday from Local 10 News seeking comment.

Vasquez and others are looking forward to receiving federal stimulus money as they continue to wait for a chance to go back to work.

“Thank you to the president. Thank you to the United States,” she said. “But we need our money and our jobs.”


About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.