Marriott workers march coast-to-coast on Labor Day
On Labor Day, Sept. 3, thousands of Marriott workers in at least nine cities, including Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle and more, flooded the streets carrying signs reading, “One job should be enough!” while banging homemade drums and demanding a fair contract. UNITE HERE! represents these hotel and food service workers, many of them immigrants, workers of color and women. Other unions, like Service Employees 32BJ, and union members representing nurses and higher education workers marched alongside.
UNITE HERE! members are fighting for a new contract after theirs expired in the spring. Where automation is cutting workers or hours, they want job replacement as well as regular schedules. Workers in Seattle said they never know if they’ll have enough hours to support their families. (Seattle Times, Sept. 4)
Workers faced intimidation and arrest at the demonstrations: The Sept. 4 San Francisco Chronicle reported that cops arrested 75 people for sitting on trolley tracks. In Seattle, 21 people blocking Fifth Avenue were arrested. In Boston, a cop attempted to divert the crowd down Belvedere Street, but marchers surged past, shouting, “¡Si se puede!” and “What kind of power? Union power!” (Boston Globe, Sept. 4)
Detroit union activist Martha Grevatt reported: “Over 100 UNITE HERE Local 24 members rallied outside Marriott-owned hotels in downtown Detroit. As in other cities, they are fighting for a better contract that pays enough money so that workers only need to work one job.”
In Boston, the union stopped in front of the Sheraton and announced a national strike authorization vote on Wed., Sept. 12, in which 12,000 union members could be voting. Locals in four cities ― Boston, Maui, San Francisco and Honolulu ― have already scheduled votes. Locals in five other cities ― Detroit, Oakland, San Jose, San Diego and Seattle ― may follow them. D. Taylor, UH’s international president, said members were willing to go on strike to raise working standards across the industry.
Workers at 25 Chicago hotels go on strike
Thousands of downtown Chicago hotel housekeepers, servers, cooks and doormen hit the bricks on Sept. 7. Represented by UNITE HERE Local 1, which has over 15,000 hospitality and food service workers in the greater Chicago area, the workers are demanding year-round health care. “Hotels may slow down in the wintertime, but I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off. … Full-time jobs should have year-round benefits,” said Q. Rivers, a house attendant at the Palmer House Hilton. “They work us like dogs when it’s busy and then kick us to the curb in the winter.” (unitehere1.org, Sept. 7)
Union support for tribunal on U.S. crimes against Puerto Rico
The Delegate Assembly of the National Writers Union, United Auto Workers Local 1981, passed a resolution unanimously on Aug. 12 in New York City supporting the International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Crimes against Puerto Rico scheduled to take place there on Oct. 27. The tribunal is of particular concern to the NWU because Puerto Rico is part of UAW Region 9A, of which Local 1981 is a member.
The resolution noted that while the two devastating 2017 hurricanes negatively affected all aspects of life on the island, “this crisis is not new or even due primarily to the hurricanes, but is the culmination of the colonialist domination and capitalist exploitation that the United States has imposed ever since its 1898 military invasion of Puerto Rico.” In conclusion, the NWU agreed to “endorse and support [the tribunal] in the spirit of solidarity … and will help publicize it in Region 9A and in the rest of the UAW.”
Pride at Work, the LGBTQ Constituency Group of the AFL-CIO, which includes unions in Puerto Rico, passed a similarly worded resolution at its triennial convention in Phoenix on Aug. 25. The resolution pointed out that “the LGBTQ community of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora is suffering the consequences of colonial domination and capitalist austerity.” In vowing to endorse and show solidarity with the tribunal, the Pride@Work resolution agreed to help publicize it in its local chapters and in the rest of the AFL-CIO.
Tribunal organizers are requesting that other unions pass similar resolutions. For more information, email [email protected] (type “Puerto Rico Tribunal” in the subject line); on Facebook like Puerto Rico Tribunal.