The Crusader Newspaper Group

Statement by Marie Lourdie Pierre-Jacques

My name is Marie Lourdie Pierre-Jacques. I’ve worked as a banquet server at the Swissotel for 18 years.

When I came to America from Haiti as a young woman, I began working as a bus person. I didn’t speak English very well. But over time I worked my way up to being a banquet server at the Swissotel. I loved my job. I gave it my whole heart. When the hotel would call me at 2 a.m. to cover for someone, I would go in. Sometimes I would stay at the hotel overnight for three days in a row so I wouldn’t be late for a shift.

When I was pregnant, people said to me – ‘you’re going to have that baby right here in the hotel’ because I worked right up to my due date. And after giving birth to my son, I was back at work 6 weeks later. And I did this because I thought if I worked hard and gave my all, the job would respect me back. I spent more time with my coworkers at the hotel than with my own family. I thought it would be worth it to be able to support my children and provide health insurance.

When I found out I was being fired, I couldn’t believe it. It is still difficult to talk about. After all these years, all the sacrifice. How could they do something like that?

The hotel told us we were a family. What kind of people treat their family this way?

I think about all the days and nights I missed with my children because I was at the hotel. I think about my son who I left with my sister when he was 6 weeks because I went back to work. For a long time, he thought my sister was his mother. It broke my heart every time he called her mommy. No one can understand that feeling unless you’ve been through it. I know I sacrificed that part of my relationship with my son because I thought the hotel would take care of me and my family.

But now, I am left with nothing. We have no health insurance. I have blood clots and my sons have asthma. I worry about what we will do if something happens to me or my kids. Working all the time put a lot of strain on my marriage and now it is falling apart. I’m so stressed, my hair falls out when I comb it.

And it is my children who see me crying, not the hotel. I don’t think they understand what we are going through. I fight for my children. If not for them, I would not want to wake up. But I do everything for my kids. Even though I feel scared, and I don’t know what will happen next, I have to keep going.

Thank you for taking the time to listen. I hope you will support this policy to help protect me and women like me.

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