US and World Politics

One Job Should Be Enough

San Diego Marriott housekeepers win 40 percent pay increase

By Peter Turner

Housekeepers at Marriott-Westin in San Diego will receive a 40 percent pay increase, stronger protections against sexual harassment and, for the first time, a pension.

The news was announced by their union, Unite Here.

Marriott surpassed Hilton as the world’s largest hotel chain in 2016 after it bought Starwood Hotels.

After previous contracts ended earlier this year, the union has been bargaining separate agreements with Marriott hotels in eight cities.

This was the first time the hospitality workers’ union has conducted a multicity job action against a single company.

All the strikes have now been settled under terms that vary from city to city.

In San Diego, for example, housekeepers had been earning $14.25-an-hour, significantly below their peers at other San Diego union hotels.

Under the terms of the new agreement, their pay will increase to $18 an hour next July and at intervals until 2022, up to a level of $20.

The strikers’ battle cry was “One job should be enough.”

Although Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world and one of the most profitable—the company recently reported that its net income for the second quarter of 2018 was up 25 percent over the previous year—many employees have to work two or even three jobs to make ends meet.

Now Westin employees in San Diego will also be eligible for a pension to which the company will contribute 40 cents for each hour worked.

The Boston agreement, reached after workers spent more than six weeks on the picket lines, marching and chanting in the wind, rain and snow, includes a roughly 20 percent increase in wages over four-and-a-half years, a 37 percent increase in pension contributions, and six weeks of paid maternity leave, plus two weeks for spouses.

Across all the hotels, Unite Here won agreements from Marriott to equip employees who work directly with guests, like housekeepers and room service attendants, with GPS-enabled panic buttons that will let them call for help if they feel unsafe.

In addition, there is a provision that requires guests be removed mid-visit and banned from the hotel for three years if they’re believed to have been sexually harassing an employee.