Airbnb hits hotel lobby in message to Capitol Hill

Airbnb hits hotel lobby in message to Capitol Hill
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Airbnb is stepping up its fight against the hotel lobby on Capitol Hill.

The company paints the American Hotel and Lodging Association as opposing a minimum wage increase and having “a long history of fighting unions” in a memo, obtained by The Hill, that will be sent to congressional offices Tuesday.

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An Airbnb representative said the memo would be sent to the offices of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

The missive is pegged to a letter sent Monday to labor unions by union-affiliated Airbnb users who criticize what they see as a partnership between Unite Here and the hotel and lodging trade group.

The war between the hotel industry and Airbnb has largely been fought at the local level, where critics accuse the home-sharing platform of driving up rent prices and restricting housing stock. But in July, three senators — including progressive champion Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJack Black endorses Elizabeth Warren Democrats view Sanders as having best shot to defeat Trump: poll Poll: Biden, Sanders tied in Texas, followed by Warren MORE (D-Mass.) — asked the Federal Trade Commission to “conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.”

The hotel lobbying group later hailed the added scrutiny on Airbnb and talked of “working closely” for months with the group of senators, which also included Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCalifornia lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum MORE (D-Calif.), in a message to its members.

“The letter dovetails perfectly with our strategy of pushing for transparency while highlighting the public policy issues related to short-term rentals and the need for a level playing field, which was also a key ‘ask’ of members during our Legislative Action Summit earlier this year,” the hotel group told its members in the July message.

The new Airbnb memo strikes at the hotel group in an attempt to cast them as lobbying against the interest of working Americans. It includes links to coverage of the lobbying group’s work on labor issues and the minimum wage.

“The AH&LA has supported measures intended to make it harder for workers to unionize, filed lawsuits to fight minimum wage increases, and criticized Department of Labor proposals,” the document says.

The three senators who called for a review will receive the memo, among others, according to the Airbnb spokesperson.

A representative for the hotel association said in an email that Airbnb’s claims were “utterly baseless.”

“This is another effort by Airbnb to deflect attention from the facts: they could take simple steps to stop facilitating illegal activity on their platform but are not willing to do so,” the spokesperson said. “We know that lawmakers will see right through this stunt.”