@Marriott workers are on strike! We have worker power, but we don’t have Marriott’s billions. Can’t join us on the picket line? Show support by donating to our Local 26 Strike Assistance Fund at http://bit.ly/26StrikeAssistanceFund … #1job #SupportTheStrike #MarriottStrike
Roughly 1,500 workers at seven different Marriott-owned hotels across Boston have gone on strike amid an ongoing contract dispute. The workers walked out of the Aloft Boston Seaport District, the Element Boston Seaport District, the Ritz-Carlton Boston, the Sheraton Boston, the W Hotel Boston, the Westin Boston Waterfront, and the Westin Copley Place.
“The goal here is to reach an agreement that adheres to what we’re saying, and that’s one job should be enough,” said Brian Lang, president of UNITE HERE Local 26. “(Marriott has) come into Boston and they have benefited from five years of unprecedented profits.”
Workers at hotels, including the Ritz Carlton, Westin and Sheraton Boston, are on the picket lines, pushing for higher wages and better benefits. Inside the Westin in the Seaport, one restaurant was closed, along with the Starbucks in the lobby.
The union has said its workers can no longer afford to live in Boston, and have said Marriott’s profits in Boston are more than enough to pay its workers enough to live in the city.
In a statement, a Marriott spokesman criticized the strike, saying its contract proposal is fair.“We are disappointed that Unite Here has chosen to resort to a strike at this time. Marriott’s current economic proposal matches the economic terms in the parties’ last contract, which included the largest increases in the parties’ bargaining history,” the statement said. “During the strike our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests. While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work.”
An estimated 1,500 Marriott Hotel workers walked out Wednesday morning in the first hotel strike in Boston history to demand a living wage. Housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, doormen and other employees left seven different hotels across the city as they call for increased wages and a salary that allows them to be able to live in Boston.
“Marriott is a multi-billion dollar corporation and our wages haven’t kept up with the rising costs,” Toula Savvidis, a Sheraton Hotel bartender, said. “I’ve put my time in through the years working for this company. I should be at a place where I feel comfortable enough to retire.”
Courtney Leonard is another worker who is demanding fair wages and healthcare. “I’m from South Boston. I was born and raised here. Now I live in New Bedford so I drive over 100 miles a day just to get to work because I can’t afford to live anywhere near here,” Leonard said. Leonard said she doesn’t want to inconvenience guests nor give up her paycheck but says some things are worth the sacrifice.
“The money is there, especially in Boston, corporations are moving and we are being left behind as workers and we need to stand together,” said Leonard.
Workers at the Marriott Hotel, which is the city’s largest hotel employer, say that one job should be enough. “I want people to know the job is not easy,” Mei Leung, a housekeeper at Sheraton Boston, said. “I want them to know we need a good contract.”
The union that represents the protesting hospitality workers, Unite Here Local 26, urges the public not to cross the picket line. The strike comes after the hotel and workers failed to agree on wages after months of negotiations.
“Hotel industry is an industry that is thriving here,” Unite Here Local 26 President Brian Lang said. “It’s thriving primarily because of the great work that the members of Local 26 do and we’re simply saying one job should be enough. Let us share a wealth we create for these companies.”
While workers say they are taking the strike one day at a time, guests so far, said they have not been inconvenienced.
“It’s a little strange but the hotel has been wonderful and accommodating us with everything we need. And they are giving us extra points for services they are not going to be able to provide,” said Chris Brown who was staying at the Sheraton in Boston. “It’s a little strange, a little loud but it’s alright.”