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'Joey Quits' website lets hotel employees complain about work

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
updated 9:59 AM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Joey Quits" Tumblr lets hotel employees submit workplace horror stories
  • Site inspired by response to "Joey Quits" YouTube video of man quitting with marching band
  • Video generated huge response from hotel workers who also felt mistreated by bosses
  • Purpose to hold hotels accountable, pave way for strong labor laws, Joey says

(CNN) -- With so many means for guests to leave feedback on hotels worldwide, it's easy to take those opportunities for granted. But what would workers in the hospitality industry say if they were asked to comment on their employers?

We'll soon find out, thanks to a new Tumblr page that lets hotel employees share stories of demanding bosses, long shifts and finicky guests.

The inspiration for "Joey Quits" comes from a likely source: Joey DeFrancesco, who became a viral video sensation and working-class hero in October for posting a YouTube video of him resigning from his hotel job accompanied by a marching band.

With more than 2.8 million views in just over a month, the YouTube video generated more than 4,000 comments and even more e-mails, Facebook messages and cell phone texts, DeFrancesco said. Much of the response came from current and former hotel workers who said they related to DeFrancesco's complaints of struggles with management.

"We did not expect to get all this attention. But when we did, we knew we had to do something with it," the 23-year-old Rhode Islander said.

Websites such as Hotel Workers Rising are backed by unions and address conditions from a labor standpoint. But "Joey Quits" appears to be one of few forums dedicated exclusively to letting individuals air grievances.

The site's masthead bears a screen grab from the YouTube video of DeFrancesco's triumphant face next to messages in Spanish and English urging users to submit stories about their hotel workplace.

"Inspired by the success of the 'Joey Quits' video and responses to it from other hotel workers, we created this site to collect stories about unjust working conditions in the hotel industry," the site says, also in Spanish and English.

The feed, which launched this week, had 10 entries as of Tuesday morning, including videos of DeFrancesco and other former employees of the Renaissance Providence, the site of DeFrancesco's famous resignation. The rest are anonymous or come from users claiming to be former hotel industry employees. CNN could not verify their claims.

The goal is not to encourage boycotts of the accused hotels but to hold them accountable by raising awareness of undesirable conditions, hopefully paving the way to stronger labor laws, DeFrancesco said.

"The site is intended for workers so they can read it and know they're not alone, that others are experiencing the same things as them, creating a sense of working-class identity and hotel worker identity that's crucial to transforming the industry and forming unions," he said.

"The other audience is the public that's visiting the hotels, so they know how bad conditions are and let their disapproval be known with their wallets until things change."

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