The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Hotel Workers Take On a Giant

Oct 15, 2018

At 5:00 AM on Sunday, October 7, about 160 workers at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit walked out on strike. They are part of the Marriott hotel group and joined thousands of other Marriott hotel workers in going on strike. These members of the union UNITE HERE are striking in seven other cities spread across the continental U.S. and Hawaii—San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Maui, and Oahu—in addition to Detroit. Another strike against Marriott in Chicago was settled a short time ago.

Marriot—headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.—is the largest hotel chain in the world. It operates under many names including Starwood Hotels, the Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton and Renaissance Hotels, as well as the Westin. All told, Marriott operates 6,700 hotels with 1.2 million rooms in at least 125 countries.

Despite the huge resources of Marriott, it pays most of its workers poorly, with poverty level wages going to the lowest paid. UNITE HERE officials say the main demands of the strikers are higher pay, a guaranteed number of work hours per pay period, no last minute changes in work schedules, better sexual harassment protections for housekeepers on their jobs and more accommodation of women workers when they become pregnant.

The Marriott workers are taking on a financial giant. But their willingness to fight can be an encouragement to other workers who face situations much like theirs.

Good for them!