WASHINGTON (NewsChannel 8) – With cameras in tow, Muriel Bowser transformed Tuesday morning from Ward 4 Councilmember into a hotel housekeeper, trading in her D.C. Council gavel for a vacuum.
The Democratic nominee for D.C. mayor has cleaned up many union endorsements lately, including Local 25, which represents hotel workers across the District. Union members challenged her to become a housekeeper for a day.
Local 25 General Counsel Stephanie Steer-Jones said, “When you go and put yourself in our shoes, you understand how hard this work is and you understand some of the things working people face: transportation issues, housing issues.”
At the new Marriott Marquis, Bowser was trained and assisted by Juanita King. By union contract, King currently makes $13.53 an hour. By next April, she will make nearly $19 an hour.
Bowser said she has worked many strenuous jobs, but the housekeeping experience was humbling. She also said residents want to see more hotels in the District like the Marriott Marquis, which received substantial public funding from the D.C. government. She said such economic development creates sustainable jobs.
“Policymakers and people who make budgets, we have to see what results from those types of investments,” Bowser said.
Independent candidate David Catania declined to comment on Bowser's housekeeping efforts.
Fellow independent candidate Carol Schwartz, by phone, said, "Kudos to Muriel for her work today. Highlighting workers and their well-being has always been a priority of mine, with one evidence being my Sick and Safe Leave for them.”
Schwartz later added, “That's far more compelling than working one day [in their jobs].”
When asked if she thought such an experience would be valuable for a mayoral candidate, Schwartz said, "I don't think one day exactly is comparable to what those workers do day in day out and the salaries they make for that work."
Online, some were dismissive, calling Bowser’s housekeeping a political stunt. Others were more blunt. Chuck Thies, 2014 primary campaign manager for Mayor Vincent Gray, asked Bowser, “Did you clean the toilet?”
Bowser said she was not surprised by the negative reactions.
“Other people will criticize,” she said. “People criticize great leaders throughout the history of the world. But if you feel in your heart you're doing what's right, and standing with these women who work hard every day to raise their families is what I decided to do. And I'm happy about it.”
At noon, after thoroughly cleaning three hotel rooms, Bowser joined King and other workers for lunch in the hotel cafeteria. But Bowser only worked a half shift. Her campaign explained that she had other events scheduled in the afternoon.