Facing threats of layoffs, and losing their livelihood to automatic recordings, New York City tour guides rallied on the steps of City Hall Tuesday in hopes of saving their jobs.
The Daily News first reported last month that Gray Line, the bus company that operates double deck sightseeing tours, sent a memo to 150 tour guides that “mass layoffs” would start on March 11.
The company is in contact negotiations with TWU Local 225, the union that represents the tour guides. Three years ago, the company slashed pay by about $3 an hour for guides during a contract dispute.
- Celebrity deaths 2018: All the stars we lost too soon 44 Pictures
- 10 finalists for TIME Person of the Year 2018 10 Pictures
The average tour guide now makes about $16.50 an hour, according to the Daily News.
“Gray Line claims to be ‘truly the local expert,’ but it’s licensed New York City tour guides who make that statement accurate,” James Muessig, TWU Local 225 Section Chair for Tour Guides/Customer Service Agents, said in a statement. “If the tour guides are replaced by taped machines, the tourists would be better off reading Wikipedia on the subway.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who rallied with the guides and unions, said tour guides shouldn’t be bullied by the bus operators in the city’s booming tourism industry, set to reach $45 billion a year by this year’s end.
“This business that literally introduces visitors to our city should bargain fairly with the New Yorkers who make it run,” Brewer said.