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[UPDATED] Strikes continue at Boston Marriott Hotels

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[UPDATED] Strikes continue at Boston Marriott Hotels

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By Aidan McGovern, news correspondent

UPDATED at 10:28 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28

After 46 days of picketing, the 1,500 housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, dishwashers and banquet servers are now ready to go back to work after reaching a “tentative agreement” Nov. 17.

The deal would bring new contracts for workers who can expect pay raises, maternity and paternity leave and other job security protections and benefits. “Further details of the contract will be shared after the more than 5,000 Marriott workers still on strike in San Francisco and Hawaii reach agreements and end their strikes,” a UNITE HERE Local 26 press release said.

Marriott officials have also reached out to some of the press to confirm the agreement. “We look forward to welcoming our associates back to work,” a Marriott spokesperson said in a statement to the Boston Globe.

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Roughly 1,500 Marriott hotel workers continue to strike in Boston six weeks after first walking off the job Oct. 3 in a call for more suitable hours, better stability in staff scheduling and improvements in protection against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Housekeepers, bartenders and doormen organized through the labor union UNITE HERE Local 26 and began picketing last month at seven of Boston’s prominent Marriott-owned hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton Boston, Sheraton Boston and Westin Copley Place.

Similar strikes have gone on throughout the past month in other cities across the country as well, from Hawaii to Michigan. While workers have reached new contract agreements in cities such as Oakland, San Jose and Detroit, negotiations are still underway in Boston.

Part of what makes the current circumstances difficult for Boston strikers is that the settlements that have been reached in other cities only involved one hotel rather than seven, a factor that UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang believes is clearly playing a role in complicating efforts to reach agreements between both parties at all seven locations across the city.

A spokesperson for UNITE HERE Local 26 said they have kept the lines of communication open between strikers and Marriott executives in the hopes of reaching an agreement soon.

Strikers continue to meet outside their respective hotels and picket from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine, as workers at the Sheraton did on one particularly cold day when the high temperature was 35 degrees.

“We’re actually starting our sixth week,” said Anna McDonough, a banquet server who has worked at the Sheraton for 31 years.

As they move forward, workers like McDonough feel that they have strength in their cause because it is a collaborative effort.

“People are motivated because, like with everything else, the enthusiasm we have for each other, you could say, is like a family, and that keeps us sustained,” McDonough said.

McDonough also added that it appears that there is a chance that they have moved “closer to the finish line” for reaching an agreement and that they remain “cautiously optimistic.”

As the Boston strikes carry over into their second month, some Marriott executives have begun to express the financial burden and detrimental impact that they’ve seen occur on the business side of operations.

While cancellations have been minimal thus far, the longer the strike continues, the greater the risk for more cancellations and pressure on profits,” said Jay Johnson in a recent earnings call earlier this month.

Johnson, the chief financial officer at DiamondRock Hospitality Co., owner of Westin Waterfront, also noted that they anticipate an approximate $2 million impact to earnings in the fourth business quarter of 2018.

“Though we were hopeful for a quick resolution as in Chicago,” Johnson said, “it appears the strike will continue through at least mid-November.”

More than a month after beginning the strikes, the workers’ absence is still clearly having an effect on day-to-day operations at the hotels.

The Westin Waterfront’s Starbucks cafe is operating on a shorter schedule, and its breakfast restaurant remains closed, substituted by a temporary food station.

Meanwhile, the union’s Twitter page continues to share the stories of many of those who have been picketing throughout the past month.

Asmeret Hagos, a housekeeper who has worked at the Ritz-Carlton Boston for 14 years, told the union, “I have kids. I never see them.”

The page also featured Sheraton Boston striker Matthew Entzminger, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1994.

I was proud to put my life on the line for my country,” he told them. “If I had to do it again, I would. I’m thankful that we are accomplishing our goal of affording healthcare costs when we retire.”

 

 

 

 

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[UPDATED] Strikes continue at Boston Marriott Hotels