BOSTON, MA – Today on Labor’s traditional sleepy “day off”, 22 UNITE HERE Local 26 members and President Brian Lang risked arrested in front of the Westin Copley by participating in a peaceful sit-down civil disobedience, followed by a march to the Sheraton Boston where they announced a strike authorization vote set for September 12. Should workers vote to authorize a strike, a strike could be called at any moment.
The civil disobedience and call for a strike vote come at the official end of a summer full of negotiations with Marriott for contracts covering 1,800 workers. Contract negotiations will ultimately impact 5,000 hotel workers and could impact almost 11,000 hotel rooms. Picket lines have continued to pop up at Marriott hotels across the city, which include the W, Westin Boston Waterfront, Aloft, Element, Renaissance, Ritz Carlton, and the Sheraton Boston.
“Our members make Boston’s hotels run and we are not afraid to shut them down if we have to,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “It took a strike at Harvard. It almost took a strike at Northeastern. These days, workers aren’t afraid of a little chaos if that’s what it takes to get executives to listen. Marriott is the richest hotel company on the planet yet they’re offering hotel workers crumbs. Marriott seems to have forgotten who makes them their billions. We are here to remind them,” he said.
All summer Marriott workers have been calling on their employer to use their leadership in the global hotel industry to do more for hotel workers. Worldwide, hotel workers work multiple jobs and struggle to live in the cities where they work, raise their families, and retire with dignity and security. Workers have told Marriott for months: One Job Should Be Enough.
Carlos Da Veiga has worked as a houseman at the Sheraton Boston for more than 20 years. “I have lived in Dorchester for 25 years, but with rising housing costs, my family and I are worried we will not be able to remain much longer. The hotel industry is raking in cash here in Boston and around the world, so I know Marriott can provide a higher standard for us. We are ready to do whatever it takes, including a strike.”
In addition to demanding jobs that help workers survive spiraling housing and living costs, workers have demanded Marriott adopt innovative technology that keeps workers and their jobs safe, and offer stronger protections for safety at work.
Sorinelda Pabon, Local 26 housekeeper at the Westin Boston Waterfront for 9 years says she will vote to strike to get the company to do something about the “green choice” program that pays guests points for denying housekeeping, as reported in the Boston Globe. “I lay with the phone next to my pillow. I don’t know the next time I will be called in for work and no longer have a set schedule. I am working fewer hours, but I also have no way to schedule appointments or make time for my family. I am voting to strike because I want Marriott executives to understand that they are harming housekeepers like me with this program.”
UNITE HERE members and their service have helped propel Marriott to reach an astounding $42 billion market capitalization with 1.2 million rooms worldwide.
Other Marriott worker actions today included marches, rallies and civil disobedience in Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Baltimore in efforts to reach the top executives of the company.
UNITE HERE Local 26 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents over 10,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Boston and Rhode Island. Learn more at www.local26.org
UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries across the US and Canada. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.