Striking Boston Hotel Workers March Downtown - NECN


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Striking Boston Hotel Workers March Downtown



    Striking Marriott Workers Protest in Boston

    Hotel workers demanding better wages and working conditions marched in downtown Boston Friday. (Published Friday, Oct. 12, 2018)

    Striking Marriott hotel workers protested Friday afternoon in downtown Boston, city police said.

    The protest took place at Tremont and Boylston Streets beginning at 5 p.m.

    Boston police shut down Tremont and Stuart streets to manage traffic for the event, police said.

    Unite Here Local 26 President Brian Lang says the housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, doormen and other employees on strike are calling for increased wages and a salary that allows them to be able to live in Boston.

    Striking Marriott Workers March in Streets of Boston

    [NECN] Striking Marriott Workers March in Streets of Boston

    Workers from seven different Marriotts marched through the streets of downtown Boston Friday afternoon demanding improvements to wages and working conditions.

    (Published Friday, Oct. 12, 2018)

    "It's just quite simple," Lang said. "The hotel industry has had the five most profitable years in the history of Boston. The largest hotel company in the world dominates this market, and we're saying to them, 'Our job should be enough for a hotel worker to live in the city that they work in, to raise their family and to retire with dignity."

    He says Marriott has not budged on this issue and that the workers on strike will not return to work until the company does so.

    The strike began on Oct. 3 when an estimated 1,500 Marriott Hotel workers walked out demanding a living wage. The workers walked out at seven Marriott-operated hotels, including 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.

    "Marriott is a multi-billion dollar corporation and our wages haven't kept up with the rising costs," Toula Savvidis, a Sheraton Hotel bartender, said. "I've put my time in through the years working for this company. I should be at a place where I feel comfortable enough to retire."

    Courtney Leonard is another worker who is demanding fair wages and healthcare.

    "I'm from South Boston. I was born and raised here. Now I live in New Bedford so I drive over 100 miles a day just to get to work because I can't afford to live anywhere near here," Leonard said.

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    Leonard said she doesn't want to inconvenience guests nor give up her paycheck but says some things are worth the sacrifice.

    "The money is there, especially in Boston, corporations are moving and we are being left behind as workers and we need to stand together," said Leonard.

    Workers at the Marriott Hotel, which is the city’s largest hotel employer, say that one job should be enough.

    "I want people to know the job is not easy," Mei Leung, a housekeeper at Sheraton Boston, said. "I want them to know we need a good contract."

    The union that represents the protesting hospitality workers, Unite Here Local 26, urges the public not to cross the picket line. The strike comes after the hotel and workers failed to agree on wages after months of negotiations.

    "Hotel industry is an industry that is thriving here," Unite Here Local 26 President Brian Lang said. "It's thriving primarily because of the great work that the members of Local 26 do and we’re simply saying one job should be enough. Let us share a wealth we create for these companies."

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    Now, the hotel chain faces other walkouts in Honolulu, Detroit, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Oakland and San Jose.

    Marriott International expressed in a statement its disappointment in Unite Here's strike.

    "Marriott's current economic proposal matches the economic terms in the parties' last contract, which included the largest increases in the parties' bargaining history," the hotel giant said. "We have not proposed any changes to our associates' health, welfare or retirement benefits. During the strike our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests. While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work."

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