After weeks of picketing, Marriott employees in several cities, including Boston and Detroit, have returned to work following successful negotiations of new contracts with the world’s largest hotel chain.
The massive, multi-city strike is far from over, however. About 5,000 Marriott workers remain off the job and on picket lines in Hawaii and San Francisco. Union leaders have said those strikes are expected to last through Thanksgiving week.
“Management thinks they can break the workers by pushing this strike into the holidays. Well, they’ve underestimated their workers from the beginning!” Unite Here Local 5, the hospitality worker union representing Marriott’s employees in Hawaii, wrote on its website.
In early October, almost 8,000 front desk personnel, housekeepers, servers, bartenders, and other service employees walked off the job at Marriott properties in eight major U.S. cities: Boston; Detroit; San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and San Diego in California; and Honolulu and Lahaina in Hawaii.
The workers were seeking higher wages and job security after months of deadlocked contract negotiations.
“We’re asking to be brought up to the Marriott industry standard,” Nia Winston, president of Unite Here Local 24 in Detroit, told HuffPost in an earlier interview. “We have other unionized hotels and casinos in town where workers make at minimum $3 and $4 more” per hour.
Winston said many workers had taken on second jobs just to make ends meet. They wanted proper compensation, she stressed, particularly in light of Marriott’s profits and the strong economy.
The coordinated walkouts were described as “the largest multi-city hotel strike in North American history.” Affected hotels included the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, St. Regis San Francisco and several properties operated under the Marriott, Sheraton and Westin brand names.
Marriott has insisted it’s been business as usual despite the huge strike, but travelers have complained of unpleasant experiences and inconveniences.
“The service was not good,” one guest at a Sheraton in Boston told travel website The Points Guy earlier this month. ”[There was] no club room, no restaurant, only breakfast, and the market was only open a few hours a day.”
About 1,500 Marriott employees in Boston ended their 46-day strike over the weekend following the ratification of a new contract agreement. Unite Here said it had been the longest and largest hotel worker strike in the city’s history.
“Hotel workers stood strong for more than six weeks in the wind, the rain, and the snow, up against the largest hotel company in the world,” Brian Lang, president of Unite Here Local 26, said in a statement. “It was a hard-fought victory, but in the end, Marriott showed leadership and listened to our members’ concerns.”
Marriott had earlier settled contracts with employees in Detroit, San Jose, Oakland and San Diego.
“We are looking forward to welcoming our associates back to work,” the hotelier said in a statement.