Workers at the Harvard-owned DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Allston announced Saturday that they have won a union.
Workers joined UNITE HERE Local 26, Boston’s hotel workers union, ending a more than 2-year public fight and boycott. During the course of their campaign housekeepers educated the public about the pain they experienced cleaning hotel rooms. Undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard launched a campus campaign to encourage Harvard to support the workers’ demands.
“It is inspiring to see that when workers and students come together, real change can be made,” said Harvard freshman Angela Leocata. “The DoubleTree workers winning a union proves the power of collective action and the promise of student-worker solidarity.”
The workers made national news in May when they appealed to Facebook COO and feminist Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg declined an invitation to “lean in” with immigrant housekeepers.
More recently, housekeepers at the hotel held the first hotel workers’ strike in Boston in more than 100 years. On November 20, 2014, housekeeping staff struck the hotel and joined hundreds of students and supporters on Harvard’s campus where more than 3000 cards of support were signed and delivered to administration.
“Working while pregnant at the hotel was a difficult time for me,” said housekeeper Delmy Lemus. “I am joyful today.”
Ongoing picket lines, rallies, and leaflet actions on campus and at the hotel were a major part of the workers’ campaign and boycott. Already unionized hotel workers from Local 26 often joined them.
“Our members believe all workers deserve the standard that we’ve fought for,” said Boston hotel workers union President Brian Lang. “We will be relentless until all hotel and hospitality workers in Boston can work safely and can provide a better life for their families.”
With union recognition, workers will now sit down to bargain their first contract.
“It will be powerful to negotiate with management as partners and equals,” said housekeeper Sandra Hernandez.