Striking hotel workers starved on meager or no strike pay
The multi-billion-dollar business of American trade unions
16 October 2018
More than 7,000 workers are currently on strike at Marriott International hotels in eight US cities. The housekeepers, servers, cooks, doormen and other hotel workers, many of whom earn $11 an hour or less, are fighting for improved wages, medical benefits and working conditions at the world’s largest hotel chain.
The workers walking the picket lines have been put on starvation strike rations by UNITE HERE, which is working to isolate and help defeat the separate struggles. After a week, workers qualify for a meager $300 per week strike benefits, or $60 a day—though only if they have put in at least 30 hours on the picket lines.
The UNITE HERE Local 5 web page in Hawaii advises impoverished workers that it is time “to work out a bare-bones budget and ways to pay for essentials” and to “look to family and friends for emotional and/or financial support.” They add that workers should try to “raise money by selling something or eliminate expenses that don’t seem essential,” and the union provides a sample letter that workers can send to creditors to try to forestall utility shutoffs or the loss of their cars or homes.
This sage council on the virtues of being frugal comes from an organization that controls massive investments, run by individuals with incomes that put them in the top five percent of the population—or higher. According to the 2017 filing with the US Labor Department, UNITE HERE President Donald R. Taylor took home $362,034 last year. This places him in the top one percent of individual income earners in the US, according to a calculator created by the Wall Street Journal.
The secretary treasurer, Gwendolyn…