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Hotel workers authorize strike at San Francisco Marriott hotels

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People walk by the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Frustrated with current working conditions and stagnant contract negotiations, UNITE HERE Local 2 workers from seven Marriott Marquis-operated hotels throughout San Francisco voted Thursday to authorize a strike.

The 98.6 percent yes vote means more than 2,300 Marriott Hotel workers could refuse to show up to work at any moment.

On Thursday, 1,475 Marriott workers in San Francisco cast their ballot, and an additional 1,846 hotel workers and other union members pledged their solidarity should Marriott workers go on strike.

The contracts of 8,000 San Francisco hotel workers expired on Aug. 15, and ongoing negotiations have pushed union members “to the point of frustration,” according to Local President Anand Singh.

“Our members are frustrated by the fact that the Marriott corporation and hotel industry at large in The City has done remarkably well in the last five years,” Singh said. “We know that the corporations in this country, including Marriott, received a huge windfall from Donald Trump’s tax breaks — that money has not trickled down to our members.”

Since negotiations began in June, the union has called on Marriott to pay its workers enough to afford the cost of living in The City and ensure their job security as new technology has disrupted the industry.

“Uber and Lyft have almost completed eviscerated the incomes of hotel doormen who were hailing cabs and getting tipped by customers,” Singh said. “There are guests encouraged in some hotels to use Ubereats, Grubhub and some third party food deliveries. That’s work that could be either done by our members or done in tandem with our members. We need a seat at the table as changes occur in this industry.”

The strike authorization came on the heels of a massive Labor Day march in front of the Westin Hotel that drew more than 1,000 hotel workers and ended in 75 arrests. According to Singh, the hotel giant has not budged in addressing in “any meaningful way our demands on job security.”

“I’ve worked at the W San Francisco for eight years and in that time I have seen wages remain relatively stagnant. I’m overworked, my fellow employees are overworked, and it’s really tough to make ends meet because we are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Julian Penrose, who works as a bell boy. “I think we are all ready to do whatever it takes to progress and move forward here.”

San Francisco’s strike authorization follows that of Marriott workers in Honolulu, HI, San Jose and Boston this week. Marriott workers in Seattle are expected to vote on a strike authorization on Friday.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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