Negotiations at the hotels involved in the walkout are continuing, and there are no plans to hold strike authorization votes at the 17 other properties before year-end, said Rachel Gumpert, a spokeswoman for Unite Here, the union that represents the striking workers. The union has a full list of the hotels involved on its strike website.
What’s at stake?
The workers want wages that keep up with the cost of living in the cities where the strikes are being held, said Ms. Gumpert.
Pay varies by city, as do the proposed settlements, but a housekeeper at Ms. Garcia’s hotel, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, makes about $22 an hour, Ms. Gumpert said. If the housekeeper worked 40-hours per week for the year, the $45,760 total is only $4,900 above the “very low income” limit set by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development for Honolulu County, a measure that considers housing costs. Although some people tip housekeepers, most don’t, Ms. Gumpert said.
The union is also concerned with job loss because of some types of automation, such as replacing front desk workers with iPads, or contracting out food prep like chopping and dicing.
It also opposes the current Marriott “Make A Green Choice” program, which offers loyalty reward points for guests who forego daily housekeeping. The union doesn’t want to end the program, but said that it throws off the schedule that housekeepers have to do heavy cleaning. When multiple guests checkout, the 30 minutes that a housekeeper might get to prepare a standard room isn’t enough to safely deal with the backlog, Ms. Gumpert said. The union wants Marriott to allow more time to clean rooms that aren’t serviced daily.
Ms. Kim declined to comment on specifics, but said in a statement, “Marriott is a competitive employer that pays significantly above the minimum wage in most markets and provides generous benefits. For years Marriott has invested in the company’s work force through benefits and training,” particularly for hourly workers.
A single hotel is on strike in Chicago in an unrelated dispute over health insurance coverage. That walkout hit 26 hotels in that city in September, but has settled at all but the Cambria Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile, part of the Choice Hotels International chain.