More than 7,700 workers at Marriott International hotels throughout Massachusetts, Illinois, California and Hawaii are preparing to mobilize Saturday as talks between the hotel company and union Unite Here continue to deteriorate.
Strikes are currently taking place across eight tourist destinations in the U.S., and Oct. 20 is set to be a day of demonstration at all of them. The workers will be joined by political leaders and dozens of aligned unions from the public, private and trade sectors. Events and actions on this day are set to vary, according to Unite Here, and will include “acts of civil disobedience, major live band performances, strike-city visits from some of the highest ranking labor leaders in North America, the largest pickets to date in the strike cities and much more.”
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The strikes continue after months of negotiations, as Marriott workers and members of Unite Here have been working under expired contracts for months. The strike was authorized by union members nearly a month ago, and according to Unite Here its workers walked off their jobs nearly two weeks ago after “multiple trips back to the table with no movement from Marriott.”
According to a release, union members are seeking wage increases so that “one full time job is enough to live on in these cities,” as well as improvements to job security in the face of automation and Marriott’s “Green Choice” program. Green Choice incentivizes guests to delay housekeeping visits for linens in the name of reducing unnecessary trips to the laundry—a boon for the environment and hotel utilities bills, but Unite Here takes issue with the program’s ability to reduce housekeeping workers’ hours.
In early October, Marriott maintained that its proposal to the union was competitive, and that their hotels would stay open despite any strikes.
“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,” a spokesperson from Marriott said in a statement at the time. “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.”