UNITE HERE union members representing hotel and culinary workers in San Francisco and San Jose have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the cities’ Marriott properties as the October convention season is ready to kick into high gear.
The yes votes mean that strikes could occur at any time.
“I think that there will be disruptions if a strike happens,” said Anand Singh, president of UNITE HERE! Local 2, San Francisco, shortly before the strike vote was tabulated September 13. “We’re talking about some of the largest, most prominent hotels in the city that absolutely cater to convention and group business. As you get into October and convention season the likelihood of a strike may increase.
"I think there absolutely could be disruptions in the industry," he added.
The vote was 98.6 percent in favor in San Francisco and 90 percent in favor in San Jose. Strike votes have been occurring in major tourism and meetings destinations throughout the U.S. since September 10, in Boston, Hawaii and now San Francisco and San Jose. Workers in Seattle are expected to vote September 14.
A strike would impact seven Marriott hotels in San Francisco, affecting some 8,000 workers whose contracts expired August 15. The seven Marriott hotels in San Francisco are the following:
- San Francisco Marriott Union Square, Palace Hotel by Marriott, W San Francisco by Marriott, Westin St. Francis Union Square by Marriott, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Courtyard San Francisco Downtown by Marriott and St. Regis San Francisco.
- The San Jose hotel in question is the San Jose Marriott.
Singh added that the union’s decision to authorize a strike was not intended to hurt meeting planners, but was to stand up for what its union members believe is inadequate compensation and job security, and stagnant negotiations with the hotel giant.
UNITE HERE! Local 2's Message to Meeting Planners
“Our fight is not with meeting planners. It’s not with groups and conventions coming into the city—we welcome them with open arms,” Singh said. “Our members are the ambassadors to the outside world; the tourists and groups of this city, but we’re not getting a fair shake. We say that one job should be enough.
"Over the last five years as this industry … has boomed across San Francisco, as we see that it’s going to continue to boom with the expansion of Moscone [Convention] Center into next year, our members have been left behind, so we’re fighting for a decent standard of living for ourselves and our families," he added. "We’re fighting for our health care and we’re fighting for our real job security, and with a company like Marriott—the largest in the world—that’s not too much to ask.”
San Francisco police arrested 75 hotel workers on Labor Day who were protesting outside the JW Marriott’s Westin St. Francis San Francisco, a Union Square hotel, for blocking the street.
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.
Marriott issued the following statement in response to previous strike vote news:
“We have had multiple bargaining sessions with UNITE HERE, with additional sessions scheduled over the next several weeks. We have reached tentative agreements on a number of substantive issues through these negotiations. And, we continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to resolve the remaining issues.
"Through decades of working with various UNITE HERE local unions, we have always taken the negotiation process seriously and have always reached fair agreements.
"We have no reason to believe that this negotiation process will be any different. We respect the right of our associates to voice their opinions on issues that are important to them. Should the union and our employees choose to strike, our hotels will continue to operate and work to minimize any disruption.”
Following are the results of other UNITE HERE! strike votes in the last week across the U.S.:
Boston Hotel Workers Vote 96% to Authorize Strike
More than 1,000 Boston union hotel workers employed by Marriott properties voted to authorize a strike, which can be initiated at any time. The UNITE HERE Local 26 vote was 96 percent in favor of the authorization.
The Boston union worker vote to strike occurred on September 12.
"Our members are voting to strike because Marriott is not taking our concerns seriously," said Local 26 President Brian Lang. "The needs of hotel workers & our families will not be put on hold while our work creates record profits for Marriott. We are fully prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals.”
UNITE HERE Local 26 hotel workers voted to authorize a strike at eight Boston Marriott hotels—the W, Westin Copley, Westin Boston Waterfront, Renaissance, Ritz Carlton, Sheraton Boston, Aloft, and Element hotels.
In total, the properties utilize around 1,800 union-backed employees.
Hawaii Hotel Workers Vote 95% to Authorize Strike
UNITE HERE Local 5 workers from six Marriott-operated hotels in Honolulu and Maui voted to authorize a strike with a 95 percent yes vote on Monday, September 10.
According to UNITE HERE, the strike vote is the result of months of negotiations with Marriott for contracts covering 3,500 hotel workers from six Marriott-operated hotels: Waikiki Beach Marriott, Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and Sheraton Maui.
The union’s primary issues regard worker compensation, job security and sexual harassment policies.
“We want to come to an agreement with Marriott, but our members are preparing for a strike if contracts are not settled soon,” said Eric Gill, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 5, in a prepared statement. “Our proposal is to make one job enough to live in Hawaii. Marriott’s proposal is to get another job.”
UNITE HERE maintains MarriottTravelAlert.org to issue updates on the strike status at specific hotels. Meetings Today is keeping track of the Marriott strike vote results in this related article.