UNITE HERE Local 26 Holds Largest Hotel Worker Picket in Over a Decade, Joins International Contract Fight with Marriott, World’s Largest & Richest Hotel Chain

Track the action at #UNITEHERE, #1job

See the website: onejob.org

BOSTON, MA – Today hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 26 workers took to the streets of downtown Boston, picketing 7 Marriott operated hotels, including the W, Westin Boston Waterfront, Aloft, Element, Renaissance, Ritz Carlton, culminating in a major picket and rally in front of the Sheraton Boston. After months of negotiations, these Marriott hotels are ten days past their contract expiration date.

As Boston Local 26 members who work as Marriott hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, cooks, and bellmen mobilized by the hundreds in a high profile picket in front of the Sheraton Boston, UNITE HERE Marriott workers in cities across North America simultaneously led major demonstrations. Workers held signs and banners that read “One Job Should Be Enough.”

Hotel workers are calling on Marriott to use its leadership in the global hotel industry to create hospitality jobs that are enough to live on in Boston, as workers welcome guests and travelers to a city they can’t afford to live in.

Luis Castro, a barback at the Westin Boston Waterfront said, “I’ve been forced to move away from the city numerous times to keep up with expenses in the past 12 years I’ve worked for Marriott. Every time I end up further and further from the city. Now I live all the way in Stoughton to commute to my job but I’m scared that my paycheck won’t keep up with rent there either. I keep trying to find somewhere I’m not priced out of. I joined our picket lines today because it’s unfair that as Marriott is doing so well while I cannot afford to live in the city where I serve guests every day.”

In addition to demanding jobs that help workers survive spiraling housing and living costs, workers will demand Marriott protect their ability to serve guests, use technology to innovate not cut human service, and offer stronger safety protections for women at work, including protection from sexual harassment.

And for many Local 26 members, a key issue will be the ability to retire with dignity. “I have worked as a housekeeper for 30 years. I am 71 years old, but I still cannot afford to retire. I want to enjoy my life with my husband and grandchildren,” said Sheraton Boston housekeeper Mei Leung. “Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world. For all I have done to make them profitable, I should not have to work until I die.”

“Over the lifetime of our union, we have wrestled with the hotel industry to help them find their humanity,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “If Marriott truly values our work, they will guarantee jobs which provide enough to sustain a family in the city where we work; that provide enough for a secure and safe workplace no matter our gender, race, immigration status or sexual orientation; that provide enough so that after a lifetime of work we can retire without going into poverty. The hospitality industry is the fastest growing sector in Massachusetts. As the biggest and wealthiest hotel company in the world and largest hotel operator in downtown Boston, Marriott should lead the way for the entire hotel industry and provide jobs that are enough.”

Other Marriott worker actions today included marches, rallies and civil disobedience in Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Philadelphia. Every day, UNITE HERE members provide customers with the exceptional guest experiences that have helped propel Marriott to reach an astounding $47 billion market capitalization with 1.2 million rooms worldwide.


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.  

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.


For Immediate Release: June 27, 2018

Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, 313-515-1807, tteneyck@local26.org, Nicki Morris, nmorris@local26.org, 203-297-1681

Tufts University dining hall workers win union vote, officially join UNITE HERE Local 26

Tufts Win

BOSTON, MA—About 150 dining hall workers have joined UNITE HERE Local 26 after an overwhelming vote in favor of unionization: 127 to 19. Following the NLRB vote, Tufts University dining hall workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 26 and can begin negotiating their first contract with the university.

“It’s an incredible feeling to finally have our union,” said Trish O’Brien, 29-year veteran of Tufts Dining Services. “We stood strong together. We are the unseen and the unheard, but now we are going to be seen and heard.”

“My time at Tufts has been filled with job insecurity,” said dining hall worker, Tsering Ngodup who has been classified as a temp for over five years. “But this journey to a union has shown me that the Tufts community is behind us.”

Earlier this April, 500 students joined workers as they formally announced their union, demanding recognition from Tufts University. Since then, 77 student groups have joined a coalition backing the food service worker’s union.

“We are overjoyed,” said Andrew Jeffries, Architecture and Environmental Studies Junior at Tufts University. “I feel very proud to be part of Tufts’ campus at this moment.”

“Students will continue to show our support in upcoming contract negotiations,” said Emma Ishida, Sophomore in American Studies and Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “Dining hall workers do so much for us. We won’t stop until they get the respect they deserve.”

Tufts workers join the union that successfully struck Harvard for 22 days in 2016, and narrowly averted a strike at Northeastern in 2017.

“With this vote, Tufts dining hall workers have once again demonstrated their strength and determination. They join with Local 26 members at Harvard and Northeastern who have set a new standard in the industry,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Tufts dining hall workers deserve no less.”


UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 


For Immediate Release: April 3, 2018

Contact: Nicki Morris, nmorris@local26.org, 203-297-1681

UNITE HERE Local 26 Endorses Ayanna Pressley for Congress

IMG_0394UNITE HERE Local 26, the Boston-area hotel and food workers union, today endorsed Ayanna Pressley for the 7th Congressional District of Massachusetts. Our nearly 10,000-member union is one of the most diverse and politically active organizations in the City of Boston, representing workers in the hospitality industry across the city. The announcement was made at a union meeting where members discussed their participation in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination earlier this month. Twenty-six members of Local 26 participated in the Memphis March and Rally on April 4th.

“The hardworking men and women of UNITE HERE Local 26 keep our region’s economy moving, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have their endorsement. Too often, their workers are an invisible part of our city, and the incredible work of Local 26 has helped elevate our consciousness about the struggles facing many of their members,” said Councilor Pressley. “As the wealth gap continues to widen, pathways to the middle class provided by these jobs couldn’t be more important, and I look forward to continuing my advocacy on behalf of all workers in Washington.”

“Ayanna Pressley is a visionary voice. She is always there for us,” said Karan Burton, Vice President of UNITE HERE Local 26 and a Roxbury resident. “We want to send someone to DC who reflects our community and our organization. We agree with her that ‘change cannot wait.’”

“We are proud to endorse a candidate who has been a relentless advocate for her community and given voice to the issues of inequality that impact their lives every single day,” said Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Ayanna Pressley has worked closely with us at Boston City Hall and we look forward to working with her in the halls of Congress.”

Watch UNITE HERE members, including Boston Local 26 member Gene Van Buren, speak about the role the civil rights movement has played in our lives.

Tufts dining hall workers join UNITE HERE Local 26, demand recognition

BestTUfts500 students march with workers to demand university recognize union

BOSTON, MA—Surrounded by hundreds of students, Tufts dining hall workers announced they have formed a union. Together, they called on President Anthony Monaco to recognize the union.

Once recognized, Tufts Dining Services workers will become members of the union that successfully struck Harvard for 22 days in 2016 and narrowly averted a strike at Northeastern in 2017. In both cases, workers won celebrated agreements that significantly improved job security, income and respect for campus workers.

“I have been working at Tufts for 29 years, but I still don’t feel heard,” said Immacula Desroses. “I know how to do my job. I want to be treated like a human being. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.”

“After 14 years at Tufts, this year I got a 19-cent raise,” said dining hall worker, Grazia Difabio. Grazia lost her house and now lives with her daughter and son and is often unable to take care of her grandchildren because of her constantly changing schedule. “We work so hard to keep our students happy. I’m thankful that they are looking out for us.”

43 student groups have joined a coalition backing the food service worker’s union.

“My mother worked a service job for most of her life. I saw her struggle,” said Edwin Jain, student worker and Computer Science Junior at Tufts University. “She always wished there was someone who would stand by her. I am proud to support my friends and coworkers. Tufts students are prepared to back workers until we win.”

“The bonds between workers and students cannot be broken,” said Second Year majoring in Philosophy at Tufts, Kayleigh Milano. “We both want what’s best for each other. It’s time for Tufts to listen and recognize the union.”

“We are proud that Tufts University dining hall workers have chosen to join Local 26,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Along with dining hall workers from a majority of Boston area campuses including Harvard, MIT and Northeastern University, we welcome them into our Union.  We call on Tufts Administration to recognize the workers union and to immediately sit down to address the dining hall workers’ concerns.”


UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 


For Immediate Release: April 3, 2018

Contact: Nicki Morris, nmorris@local26.org, 203-297-1681


UNITE HERE Local 26 members at Northeastern ratify agreement, avert strike

UNITE HERE Local 26 dining hall workers ratify agreement, win $35,000 and affordable health care in “incredible victory”
Boston, MA—Today UNITE HERE Local 26 members on Northeastern University’s campus ratified a 5-year agreement just hours before they were scheduled to begin a strike.

Workers voted 316 to 2 to authorize a strike on October 4 over a set of demands that was inspired in part by the 22-day strike at Harvard University. A key issue was workers’ low incomes, leading many to rely on public assistance to survive, even if they worked full-time. Health care was the other main rallying point, as workers demanded affordability, citing lack of funds to seek medical care, or reliance on government health care.
The agreement includes wage increases that will bring full-time workers to $35,000 annually by 2019, and a dramatic increase to the number of full-time schedules available. The new contract will provide a total of $5.65 in hourly wage increases to all workers, across-the-board.

On health care, the agreement now provides an insurance plan that is paid for by the employer at 97 percent. In addition, workers were able to maintain access to a platinum level plan with no takeaways.

The new contract provides enhanced protections for immigrant workers, strengthened non-discrimination language including the addition of gender identity and expression, and additional sick days.

A new “snow days” provision elicited cheers; workers will now be able to use personal or vacation time if they are unable to come into work on days the state closes offices due to a blizzard or snow storm. Workers who are able to brave the elements to serve the campus will be paid time-and-a-half.

And, importantly, workers at Northeastern University will join the UNITE HERE Local 26 pension plan, allowing them to begin to accrue retirement benefits.

UNITE HERE Local 26 Lead Negotiation Michael Kramer said:
“With the determination and leadership of the workers and students we have won an agreement that will be life-changing for our members and impactful in their communities. It raises the standard for campus food service workers across Boston whose value and importance in the university community is often forgotten.”

Northeastern dining worker and bargaining committee member Angela Bello said:
“I am so proud of what we accomplished. It’s amazing to feel the power that workers have when we get together and are well organized. The ways this contract will impact our lives is almost hard to believe. Thank you to everyone who supported us and believed in us.”

Second year Northeastern Law student Keally Cieslik said:
“Hearing the news that the workers negotiated a contract they are satisfied with is simply thrilling. Organizing alongside Northeastern’s food service workers and Local 26 has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang said:
“Our union fights so that our members can have their fair share of the wealth they create. Last year that meant we struck Harvard University for 22 days. This week we threatened to do the same at Northeastern. Next on the list are the 34 Boston hotels where contracts expire in 2018. We commend the Northeastern administration for agreeing to a new standard for dining hall workers in the Boston area that includes $35,000 annual income, affordable health care, and retirement.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. UNITE HERE Local 26 members went on strike for 22-days at Harvard University in October 2016 to win sustainable annual income and affordable health care. More at www.local26.org.

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2017
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, tteneyck@local26.org, 313-515-1807