San Francisco police arrested 75 hotel workers on Labor Day who were protesting outside the J.W. Marriott’s Westin St. Francis San Francisco, a Union Square hotel, for blocking the street, according to AP News. Those arrested face misdemeanor charges of failing to obey a police officer.
The sit-in was one of the demonstrations and civil disobedience actions taken by Marriott International hotel workers across eight U.S. destinations on Labor Day, Sept. 3, 2018. Previously planned protests were also expected to take place in Boston, Honolulu, Seattle, San Diego, Detroit, Baltimore and Maui.
In San Francisco, about 900 Marriott hotel workers demonstrated at Union Square as they considered a vote to authorize a strike, UNITE HERE Local 2 spokesman Ted Waechter told AP News. He said 8,000 workers in more than 50 hotels in San Francisco and six other North American cities are working without a contract.
Waechter claimed that hotel workers’ salaries have increased only by 7 percent in a decade.
He also noted that many hotel workers hold two jobs to support their families.
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UNITE HERE Local 2 President Anand Singh on Monday told the San Francisco Chronicle “the workers’ contract with Marriott expired August 14 and that the two sides are ‘nowhere near a settlement.’”
Singh was among the 75 protestors arrested Monday for “sitting on the cable car tracks in the center of Powell Street in front of the Westin St. Francis,” according to additional reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Union Workers Advance Threats of Marriott Strike
At the start of the rally, the union announced a strike authorization vote for Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, against Marriott Corporation, which owns seven San Francisco hotels including the St. Francis.
If the union votes to strike, 2,500 workers could walk off the job in San Francisco alone, according to a report in 48 Hills. The report also said in the past five years, profits at Marriott have risen 270 percent.
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According to the Boston Globe, hundreds of workers from area Marriott hotels and their supporters rallied in front of the Westin Copley carrying signs to demand a fair contract.
During the protest, police shut down Huntington Avenue for about 10 minutes when about 20 people sat down on the street around 6:15 p.m.
The Marriott owns seven hotels in Boston, and more than 1,800 Boston Hotel workers have been negotiating with Marriott since March 2018. The authorization vote is set for September 12.
Additional Protests Reported in San Diego and Hawaii
In San Diego, CBS8 reported that Marriott workers on Monday were joined by janitors, teachers, domestic workers, nurses and construction workers from across San Diego County to protest working conditions at Marriott Hotels. Workers rallied and staged a civil disobedience at Marriott-brand Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter saying: "One job should be enough."
They demanded higher wages for members of the UNITE HERE Local 30 union.
Monday's event was organized by UNITE HERE Local 30, a hospitality workers' union that represents over 6,000 members in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in San Diego.
That number also includes over 500 Marriott workers in four hotels.
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Maui Now reported that nearly 2,000 UNITE HERE Local 5 members rallied on Labor Day in front of seven Marriott-operated hotels as Local 5 announced a strike authorization vote set for September 10.
An estimated 125 workers rallied on Monday at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali as part of the coordinated union effort. The rally and call for a strike vote come after a summer of negotiations with Marriott for contracts covering more than 3,500 workers at seven properties including:
- Waikiki Beach Marriott, Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Sheraton Kauai and Sheraton Maui in Kaanapali.
This is the second mass day of national demonstrations, after more than 4,000 Marriott workers turned out in seven cities across the U.S. earlier this year in June 2018 before many of their contracts expired.
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada.