Marriott Strike Ends With a Deal in Boston

These workers are no longer striking in Boston.

A 45-day strike by 1,400 union workers at seven Marriott-operated hotels in Boston is finally over. On Saturday, Nov. 17, Unite Here, the union that represents hospitality employees, said it had reached an agreement with Marriott International and that all striking employees would return to work on Wednesday, Nov. 21.

"This victory is a testament to our members' strength and tenacity," said Brian Lang, president of Boston Local 26. "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. It was a hard-fought victory, but in the end, Marriott showed leadership and listened to our members' concerns. From day 1, we've encouraged Marriott to use their leadership in the hotel industry to make jobs in their hotels enough to live on, and today's settlement goes a long way for Boston workers." Marriott International has not released an official statement on the settlement.

The strike began on Oct. 3, when more than 1,500 union workers, rallying behind the slogan "One job should be enough," walked out at seven Marriott-operated hotels across the city. As with actions around the country, the strikers were calling for a number of conditions, including better wages and working conditions. The Marriott hotels affected by the strike were 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.

While neither the union nor Marriott has released the exact details of the new contract, Lang said it does include better wages, guaranteed hours of work, paid parental leave and sexual-harassment protections. In September of this year, a number of hotel companies, including Marriott, began rolling out portable panic buttons nationwide for workers in the wake of countless complaints of staff, particularly housekeepers, claiming sexual harassment. The new contract will be effective for four and a half years. 

In Oakland, San Diego and San Jose, Calif., as well as Detroit, striking Marriott employees reached agreements after several weeks of picketing and rallies. However, 2,500 workers are still on strike in San Francisco after walking off the job on Oct. 4 at seven Marriott hotels across the city. The workers have been without a contract since Aug. 15, when their five-year contract with Marriott ended. The affected hotels in San Francisco are the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown, the Marriott Marquis, the Marriott Union Square, the Palace Hotel, the St. Regis, the W San Francisco and the Westin St. Francis.

In Hawaii, 2,700 Marriott employees have been on strike since Oct. 8, when negotiations between the union and the Sheraton Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Westin Moana Surfrider, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and the Sheraton Maui reached an impasse. 

Earlier this month, on a Q3 2018 earnings call with investors, analysts and media, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson addressed the issue of the multiple-city strikes. "We have been negotiating in good faith for many months, and we are making progress," he said. "We have already reached tentative agreement on national issues, and we have reached a number of local settlements. We don't expect the strikes to have a material impact on our earnings in the fourth quarter."