21 arrested as campaign for fair contract escalates at Seattle Westin hotel
The following is from UNITE HERE Local 8:
SEATTLE (Sept. 5, 2018) — On Labor Day, hundreds of Marriott hotel workers and their supporters demonstrated in the streets outside of the Westin Seattle and staged a civil disobedience resulting in the arrest of 21 UNITE HERE Local 8 members and supporters, including Jeff Johnson and Lynne Dodson, the executive officers of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
The escalation of protests outside the Westin mark a line in the sand for Marriott as Marriott employees in Seattle and half a dozen more North American cities continue to work without contracts, and appear far from reaching an agreement on key issues including economics, job security, and workplace safety in contract negotiations.
“Marriott is the largest and richest hotel company in the world,” said Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum, who took arrest in the civil disobedience action. “Their success is the result of the hard work of thousands of UNITE HERE members across the country. Today, we said ‘Enough!’ to jobs that produce billions in revenues for Marriott but don’t provide workers the ability to support themselves and their families.”
Labor Day marks the largest action to date at the Westin since the union contract covering 400 workers expired on May 31. More than 20 Local 8 members and supporters were arrested after occupying 5th Avenue between Stewart and Virginia streets during peak traffic. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers and supporters chanted and picketed in front of the hotel.
“I have worked at the Westin Seattle as a housekeeper for four years and I still don’t have a regular schedule or hours” said Anelita Vergara. “Because of Marriott programs like ‘Make a Green Choice’, there are fewer hours for housekeepers and I never know if I will be able to work enough to support my family. We’re going to keep fighting until one job is enough for Marriott workers.”
The Labor Day action is the latest in a long series of local and national escalations between UNITE HERE hotel workers and Marriott, who have now had their contracts expire in many cities across the country without being able to reach an agreement in the ongoing negotiations. Despite Marriott being the most profitable hotel company in the world, Marriott hotel workers are fighting for contracts that will allow them to support their families with dignity, to work in safe conditions, and to win basic job security.
Along with the demonstrations in Seattle, thousands more Marriott workers across the country mobilized on Labor Day in San Francisco, Boston, Honolulu, Detroit, San Jose, and San Diego and also targeted Marriott with major actions, with more than 100 arrested in the protests nationally.
UNITE HERE Local 8 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents over 5,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Washington and Oregon, including 400 Marriott workers at the Westin Seattle. Learn more at www.unitehere8.org.
— MLK Labor (@MLKLabor) September 4, 2018