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In early October 2018, over 8,000 Marriott International employees coordinated a nationwide strike in over 25 cities to demand improvements in wages, working conditions, benefits, and job security.
The strike was organized by Unite Here, a union representing workers throughout the United States and Canada that helps employees in the industries of travel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, distribution, and more. The strike came after months of back-and-forth contract negotiations taking place over summer, and the failure of Marriott to address the initiative’s key issues.
Anand Singh, the president of the Oakland chapter of Unite Here, recently told the Business Times, “Marriott is the biggest and richest hotel company in the world, but members of our union, many of whom have worked at Marriott for 20 or 30 years, are irreplaceable, and we’re ready to strike until hotel workers no longer have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.” This movement is under Unite Here’s broader campaign of One Job Should Be Enough, and it comes in the wake of the recent “Fight for $15” that has been successful in several states.
Strike Action and Hotel Guests
The strikes, which began in October and have now stretched into November, were intended to be as public as possible. Workers vacated the buildings of dozens of hotels and gathered around common lounge areas, pool areas, and on-site restaurants.
There have been pickets, chanting, megaphones, drumsticks, and other props used to gain as much attention as possible. At the Sheraton Waikiki in Oahu, guests’ otherwise-tranquil sunset dinner experience was filled with hoards of protestors. At the Sheraton Back Bay in Boston, guests noted that the club room had closed down, as well as the restaurant and all of the general goods stores. Another guest at the Moana Surfrider resort noticed that the cleaning services were nonexistent, and commented on how rooms and common areas were getting cleaned by the guests themselves.
Spokesmen of Unite Here have stated that their intent is not to antagonize guests, but simply to send a message to the corporate headquarters.
What Marriott is Doing
When guests proactively reached out to Marriott prior to their arrival, they were assured that nothing would be impacted. In July, the company issued a statement warning guests about potential disruptions, but nothing about the extent of their reach.
As of early November, agreements have been reached in Detroit and Oakland, but the details have not been made public. Over 7,000 workers have continued the now month-plus strike in cities such as San Jose, San Diego, Maui, Oahu, Boston, and over a third of them in San Francisco.
Even as the largest hotel chain in the country, Marriott is scrambling to deal with the work stoppage and is being forced to reschedule major events and hire stand-in workers from temp agencies. Even though the hotel chain is urging guests to submit formal complaints, online reviews are noting that they have been met with little to no consideration or compensation.
Below is the current list of hotels that are still experiencing ongoing protests and disruptions:
- Aloft Boston Seaport by Marriott
- Element Boston Seaport by Marriott
- Ritz-Carlton Boston Common by Marriott
- Sheraton Boston by Marriott
- W Boston by Marriott
- Westin Boston Waterfront by Marriott
- Westin Copley Place, Boston by Marriott
- The Westin Gaslamp Quarter San Diego by Marriott
- San Francisco Marriott Union Square
- Palace Hotel by Marriott
- W San Francisco by Marriott
- Westin St. Francis Union Square by Marriott
- San Francisco Marriott Marquis
- Courtyard San Francisco Downtown by Marriott
- St. Regis San Francisco
- San Jose Marriott
- The Royal Hawaiian by Marriott
- Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort by Marriott
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani by Marriott
- Sheraton Waikiki by Marriott
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