The Board of Supervisors will soon hear about the root causes of a nationwide strike by Marriott workers taking place in San Francisco.
Nearly 2,500 San Franciso Marriott workers walked off the job nearly three weeks ago in what union organizers are calling the city’s largest hotel strike in decades. The workers have been relentless to pursue a contract that includes higher wages and benefits, job security, and workplace safety after more than two months without a contract of any kind.
The chain’s workers in Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, Honolulu, Maui, Boston, and Detroit are also on strike, according to UNITE HERE Local 2.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen called for the hearing at the Board of Supervisors meeting to connect the strike that she says “raises questions about what kinds of jobs it will support in the coming years.” The hospitality industry generates almost $10 billion in city spending and supports thousands of jobs.
“I know very well that going on strike is one of the hardest decisions anyone can make. To risk your income, to face up to your employer like that, is an exceptional moment in anyone’s life,” Ronen says. “When thousands of our fellow San Franciscans walk out on strike, that’s a sign that something is not working with our city.”
The strike, however, appears to be working. The picketing, complete with signs and bullhorns, is hard to miss outside the Marriot Marquis, the Palace Hotel, Courtyard Marriott Downtown, the St. Regis, the Westin St. Francis, the W and the Marriot Union Square.
San Francisco police arrested 41 strikers in San Francisco on Friday for blocking traffic during a march through SoMa that garnered more than 1,000 fellow strikers, the Examiner reported. And customer reviews found that Marriott guests in San Francisco appeared blindsided by the strike, impacting their stay.
“No bed or bath cleaning in five days. Workers strike was managed terribly by the company and staff. Security required you to show a wristband every time you entered the building,” one reviewer wrote.
Marriott is also losing money on a lucrative month made off conferences, like ComNet 2018. The 1,000-person conference spent $300,000 to change locations from Marriott out of respect for the workers and could mark its first financial loss on a conference, the Chronicle reported. In the first couple days of the strike, nonprofit Shanti Project, canceled its annual fundraising gala also in support of the strike.
“The Marriott workers’ strike is a reminder that real change often starts with ordinary groups of people, outside the corridors of government,” Ronen says. “It’s a reminder that income inequality, and all the crises it causes – from housing to health care – is going to be tackled by determined, organized groups of people, with or without the help of their elected representatives.”
Ronen called for the hearing to be before the whole board in the near future.