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Haney calls on school board group to cancel conference reservations with Marriott over ongoing strike

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Anand Singh, center, president of Unite Here Local 2, chants as workers with Unite Here Local 2 picket outside the Marriott Marquis in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

In light of an ongoing workers strike at Marriott hotels across the city and country, newly elected city supervisor and school board member Matt Haney has called on the California School Boards Associations to cancel its reservations with the hotel giant for an annual conference in San Francisco next weekend.

More than 2,500 San Francisco Marriott employees have joined a national strike for the past seven weeks in an effort to negotiate contracts with higher wages, increased job security and guarantees on their health care benefits, among other things. Leaders with the hotel workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 2, have called on the public and organizations to boycott the hotel corporation in solidarity.

In a post to his personal Facebook on Monday, Haney said that he and fellow school board member Emily Murase have reached out to the CSBA to “ask them to move the event.”

The CSBA’s conference is scheduled to take place November 19 through December 1. Troy Flint, a spokesperson for the association, pointed out that rooms at the Marriott will be used for accommodating attendees and for “side meetings,” and not to host the main conference, which will be held at the Moscone Center.

But Haney said on social media that he was “a bit shocked” that CSBA is “planning to host portions” of the conference, including a delegate assembly, at Marriott hotels across The City.

“The delegate assembly, which is the place where actual decisions are being made and where members from across the state will be voting on the positions of the association, is being held at the Marriott Marquis,” Haney told the San Francisco Examiner.

He added that “hundreds of school board members” from across the state have been referred to Marriott room blocks purchased by the association.

On the conference’s website, participants are encouraged to rent rooms at several Marriott locations, including at the Palace Hotel, the Marriott Marquis and the W San Francisco. All three locations have been the site of 24/hour picket lines for the past seven weeks.

Haney called it “ridiculous” that the event’s attendees would be asked to “cross the picket line” to attend important meetings as part of the conference.

“The workers are fighting for the very things that we are at this conference going to discuss and advocate for — they are fighting against economic inequality, for families, for opportunities for all residents of California,” said Haney. “It’s unfair to attendees to put them in this position. They align with the worker. They should not be put in a position where they have to miss this important conference because they want to stick with their values and stand with [the strikers].”

Many of The City’s elected officials, including Mayor London Breed, have expressed support for the strike.

Haney, who this month was elected to replace Jane Kim as supervisor of District 6, pointed out that several of Marriott’s San Francisco hotels are located in the district.

“I want this strike to be over. It’s creating a lot of heartache for workers and residents of District 6. We want Marriott to make a fair offer to workers and to end it,” said Haney. “It doesn’t help end the strike when huge organization hold these massive events, especially ones that share the values of the workers.”

Marriott worker strikes in Boston, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego and Detroit have been settled in recent weeks. San Francisco’s Local 2 union leaders are expected to continue bargaining with Marriott’s leadership this week.

“We’re disappointed that, to date, Marriott and its striking employees have yet to reach a settlement. We hoped that labor and management would have come to terms before now, as they have done in most other cities impacted by the strike – including Oakland and San Jose,” said Flint.

He added that rearranging “critical operational and logistical details would be cost-prohibitive at this point.”

“So, while we respect Commissioner Haney’s position, we will proceed with our conference plans – plans made years in advance,” said Flint.

UNITE HERE national press secretary Rachel Gumpert said that the ongoing strike is about “transforming the lives of all working class families in San Francisco.”

“We urge all organizations holding events in San Francisco to respect San Francisco’s working families, believe in the American dream, and hold their events in one of the many, excellent, fair hotels not under dispute or strike in The City,” said Gumpert.

Anand Singh, the union’s president, said that supporting the strike is especially important “in this case” because the union’s fight is about “being able to raise our children in the communities where we work.”

Haney said that he and Murase will not attend the conference unless the organization takes action,and are calling on school board members from across the state to do the same.

“It’s important that elected officials who come into our city understand and stand in solidarity, at least with fellow elected officials who are in support of the hotel workers,” said Haney. “Senator Scott Wiener, Assembly member David Chiu, Mayor Breed — none of them would dare cross the picket line, yet the CSBA is expecting thousands of school board members to? It’s reckless.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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