Hotel Workers Win! SF Marriot Strike Finally Ends

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After nearly two months of picket lines in 8 different cities, hotel workers won a tentative agreement with Marriot, the world’s largest hotel operator.  The hotel worker’s strike, which began Oct. 4, affected seven different hotels here in San Francisco operated by Marriott, and more than 2,000 workers marched outside the hotels, demanding a new contract with better wages and working conditions.

Representatives of San Francisco’s hotel and restaurant workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 2 ratified the new contract with support from 99.6% of workers.  Union workers in all of the participating Unite Here strikes are celebrating new deals after 2 months of grueling protests on the streets, the SF chapter was the last to reach a tentative agreement.  SF chapter President Anand Singh told reporters,  “We think it meets all of our goals and expectations, this immediately sets the standard for hotel workers in this city.”

Workers at the Marriott Marquis, along with the Marriott Union Square, the Palace Hotel, the St. Regis, the W, and the Westin St. Francis, are set to return to their jobs on Wednesday, which is incredibly important considering they’ve been picketing for two months and the Holidays are weeks away.

According to Singh, the new agreement states that a worker in San Francisco who retires while the new contract is in place will receive a pension of $50 per month for each year of employment.  Rachel Gumpert, a spokeswoman for the Unite Here union told the New York Times that housekeepers, who are generally the lowest paid workers, will receive increases starting at $1.75 an hour and growing to more than $4 an hour over the life of the four-year contract. The current median wage for housekeepers is $23 an hour.

All employees who deal with guests one on one, such as housekeepers and workers who deliver room service or bags, will receive a silent GPS-enabled panic button to summon help if they feel unsafe, she said.  Under old work rules, if an employee accused a guest of sexual harassment he or she could only be assured of avoiding contact with that person for a day. Now, employees can have no further contact with the guest, Ms. Gumpert said. And, if there is a “credible report of inappropriate sexual behavior or unwanted sexual advances,” the hotel will evict the guest, she said.

While the financial terms varied by city, the sexual harassment agreement is included in all the contracts, as is a clause allowing would-be employees with minor, nonviolent drug convictions obtain union jobs, an acknowledgment of the effects of mass incarceration on low-income workers.

All in all, it’s a very progressive new deal for service workers in SF and abroad.  Congratulations to the hotel workers of San Francisco, and to service workers everywhere who stood up for what is right, and who risked their livelihoods to set a precedent that will go on to help other industry workers negotiate fair contracts with their employers in San Francisco and across North America.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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