Hotel Trades and Airbnb Square Off in Jersey City Over Ordinance Regulating Short-Term Rentals

Hotel Trades
Hotel Trades

On June 26, the Hotel Trades Council celebrated the passage of a Jersey City ordinance that places regulations on Airbnb rentals. The ordinance safeguards the wages, benefits and jobs of hundreds of hotel workers in the Jersey City region. Moreover, it protects affordable housing and quality of life for tens of thousands of city residents.

Unfortunately, Airbnb has aggressively opposed this crucial ordinance, churning out misinformation and attacking elected officials who support it. The company also explicitly has attacked HTC and union members at council meetings and in press forums.

Not long after the ordinance passed, Airbnb submitted a referendum petition to repeal it. According to HTC, the referendum petition may result in the ordinance being submitted to voters on this November’s ballot. 

If this happens, HTC will rely on its membership and allies to engage in a robust campaign to win the referendum election. 

“The New Jersey State AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of HTC,” said Charles Wowkanech (IUOE), president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “We support regulating Airbnb rentals in Jersey City, and if this ordinance appears on the ballot in November, we will exert maximum effort and use our wealth of resources to ensure our members vote in its favor.”

Short-term rentals such as those on platforms like Airbnb currently are entirely unregulated in Jersey City. HTC says these rentals pose harm to their members in two big ways: 1) by steadily reducing the city’s housing stock and therefore increasing the cost of housing, and 2) by unfairly competing with the region’s hotel industry and applying downward economic pressure on hotel workers’ ability to maintain decent wages and benefits.

The ordinance in question does not ban Airbnb rentals, but rather imposes regulations that limit the type and length of rentals that are allowed in the city. The ordinance also requires Airbnb hosts to register and obtain permits from the city.   

“It’s unfortunate that Airbnb, a $33 billion corporation, is choosing to spend its vast resources to force the city to repeal a law that would protect Jersey City’s housing stock,” said Rich Maroko, HTC recording secretary. “Hotel workers are ready to do the organizing necessary to win this referendum election, and we are thrilled to have the support of our allies at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.”