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SF Marriott workers reach tentative agreement with hotel corporation

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Avery Nulph, a union captain with Unite Here Local 2, leads a chant as workers picket outside the Marriott Marquis in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

UPDATE 6:18 p.m.: UNITE HERE Local 2 workers nearly unanimously voted to approve their contract with Marriott on Monday, the union announced via Twitter. 

The union reported 99.6 percent of its hotel workers approved the contract. 

UNITE HERE Local 2 President Anand Singh used the moment to serve a warning to other hotels whose contract negotiations with the union are on the horizon.

“Now we turn to the remaining 5,500 UNITE HERE Local 2 hotel workers who are still working with expired contracts,” Singh wrote on Twitter. “To the Hilton, the Hyatt, the Fairmont, we say — we’ve got a deal. This is the deal.”

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The end of 60-day strike is imminent for Marriott hotel workers in San Francisco, who late on Sunday evening reached a tentative agreement with the corporation.

On Oct. 4, more than 2,500 employees across seven Marriott properties in San Francisco walked out of their jobs as a means to pressure the hotel corporation to meet their demands on economic fairness, higher wages and increased job security.

Members of UNITE HERE Local 2, the union representing the hotel workers, will vote to ratify the new four-year contract on Monday. Pending approval, the workers are expected to return to their jobs on Wednesday, according to union leaders.

The agreement reached was unanimously recommended for approval by the union’s negotiating committee, said Local 2 President Anand Singh.

“As a comprehensive deal it really does check all the boxes and it does move us forward on our demand that one job should be enough,” said Singh. “We are extremely pleased — it really is a historic agreement that sets a new standard for hotel worker in The City.”

For months, the workers have rallied under the slogan “One job should be enough,” as many have increasingly reported having to take on additional jobs to supplement their incomes.

The new contract meets the union’s demands on maintaining current health care benefits and grants the hotel workers annual wage increase over the next four years, among other things.

“I will have a little more money to find a better place to live,” said Candida Kevorkian, a housekeeper supervisor who has worked for Marriott for 16 years and said that she shares a two-bedroom apartment in South San Francisco with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

“It is too small for us. We are going to look for a another place,” Kevorkian said. “It’s happiness, how we feel right now — how the workers will feel when they find out.”

The new contract will also afford workers like Kevorkian additional workplace protections, including language on sexual harassment and employee safety, and addresses issues over the employee’s increased workloads in recent years.

A Marriott International spokesperson confirmed the deal, and said that the company looks “forward to welcoming our associates back to work.” 

Singh said that while the new contract still falls short with respect to the Bay Area’s affordability crisis, it “does move the needle.”

“Marriott did step up and act as the industry leader — it took 60 days of strike but they did come around,” he said.

San Francisco was the last of eight cities participating in the national strike to settle. Combined with San Francisco, a total of 7,700 workers walked out of their jobs in Boston, Oahu, Maui, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose and Detroit.

The new deal came after a bargaining session that started at 10 a.m. on Sunday and stretched well into the night.

Though fatigued, Marriott employees who were part of the union’s negotiating team said on Sunday that they were pleased with what the new deal would offer them, and relieved to return to work.

“The strike was a big sacrifice,” said Alfredo Calderon, who has worked as a cook for Marriott for nearly three decades. “I had to picket on the street in the rain, in the cold and when the fire happened, deal with the environmental challenges. We [fought] for this contract very hard.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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