“We are just new slaves”
1,500 Boston hotel workers walk out as UNITE HERE seeks to end Chicago strike
4 October 2018
More than 1,500 hotel workers in Boston began a strike against multinational hotel chain Marriott International on Wednesday at seven hotels. The Boston workers join thousands of Chicago hotel workers who have been on strike for four weeks to demand substantial wage increases, year-round medical insurance and improved working conditions.
From the start of the strike in Chicago on September 7 the UNITE HERE union has sought to isolate workers by signing piecemeal deals with one hotel chain after another. Last weekend, the union settled with another four hotels, leaving pickets up at only 10 of the original 26 strikebound hotels. If the union called out the workers in Boston it is only because there is immense sentiment among hotel workers for a nationwide strike.
Contracts for Marriott hotel workers across the country expired on August 31 and the union has kept them on the job. In the meantime, workers voted overwhelmingly for strike action at hotels in Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, San Jose, San Diego, Honolulu, Seattle and other cities. Everywhere hotel workers confront low wages, part-time work and ruthless efforts by hotel chains to slash their healthcare and retirement benefits. Many workers are forced to work two or more jobs just to survive in cities with high costs of living, including soaring housing costs.
Despite widespread sentiment for strikes across the US by hotel workers and other sections of workers—including steelworkers, teachers, UPS workers, Fiat Chrysler autoworkers in Indiana, who have all approved strike action—UNITE HERE and the other unions have worked systematically to…