Workers at 23 Marriott-operated hotels around the United States are currently on strike. Represented by labor union Unite Here, the nearly 7,700 workers in eight different cities are negotiating for wage increases and other workplace protections. The strike began with workers at one Marriott hotel in early October.
The Marriott hotel strike, launched by walkouts in early October, enters its second month as the world’s largest hotel chain continues to negotiate with workers organized under Unite Here. According to its website, the labor union represents American and Canadian workers in a number of industries, including hospitality. Nearly 7,700 workers, including housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, and concierges are participating in the strike, which has affected 23 different hotels in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego, Honolulu and Lahaina, Maui.
In a profile piece about the strike, The New York Times reports that a central piece of the negotiations involves the union’s request for wage increases that can meet rising cost of living expenses for workers based in expensive cities. Other concerns include job protections for workers in the face of increased automation (i.e. front-desk receptionists replaced with electronic check-in) and changes to time allotted for certain kinds of work.
For instance, workers are pointing out that Marriott’s “Make a Green Choice” program, which asks guests to forego daily housekeeping for environmental reasons, is a good cause, but that it can result in tight turnarounds for deep-cleaning rooms depending on when guests check out. Tips, already not the norm, also decrease if hotel guests use the service infrequently.
The strike has, of course, inconvenienced guests, including a family interviewed by The New York Times who were staying at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Oahu when workers there walked out. Edna Garcia recalls that she only learned of the strike when she was woken by chants from the picket line one morning. While Unite Here lists affected hotels on its website, the Marriott is not contacting guests regarding deceased amenities and services, since they deem their hotels still “operating and functional.”
Ms. Garcia was ultimately reimbursed by the hotel manager for part of her stay, but guests with upcoming Marriott bookings are advised to check and see if their hotel is one of the 23 affected so that they can make any necessary changes in advance.