A striking Marriott hotel worker with UNITE HERE Local 2 records a speaker at a rally at Yerba Buena Gardens on day 40 of the strike on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Vital healthcare funds extended for Marriott workers on picket line, boosting strike

Striking Marriott workers just got renewed wind behind their efforts: Their healthcare was extended until the end of January.

Previously, the striking workers’ healthcare was expected to expire at the end of November, which UNITE HERE Local 2 President Anand Singh said would have posed a significant challenge for the strike.

“It would’ve raised the level of this crisis,” he told reporters on Monday, the 40th day of the strike.

The hotel workers are demanding higher wages, affordable health care, and safer working conditions.

The healthcare extension was approved by the San Francisco Culinary Bartenders & Service Employees Welfare Fund, a voting body made up of employee and employer representatives, Singh said.

Singh announced the healthcare extension at a rally of more than 300 workers at Yerba Buena Gardens, across from the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Monday afternoon. San Francisco and Boston remain the lone cities to still see Marriott workers on strike, as the chain has reached agreements with Detroit, San Jose, Oakland, and — just this past weekend — San Diego.

UNITE HERE and Marriott will meet at the bargaining table Monday afternoon for the first time since the strike began 40 days ago, Singh said. In San Francisco “we’re still far apart on key issues,” he told reporters, Monday. The healthcare trust fund extension “takes a great deal of uncertainty out of strikers’ minds,” he said, instead of needing to rush family members to doctor’s appointments this month for fear of losing their health care.

San Francisco and Boston collectively represent about 7,700 workers, including housekeepers, dishwashers, bartenders, bellmen, and cooks, according to UNITE HERE.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also attended Monday’s rally. To the throngs of cheering strikers, Singh said Breed showed “leadership” and “stepped up” for workers. Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf previously sent a joint letter to Marriott urging the hotel chain to come back to the negotiating table.

“The mayor of San Francisco stands with you in this fight,” Breed told workers at Yerba Buena Gardens, Monday.

“One job should be enough,” she said, echoing their rallying cry. “I’m willing to stand with you until you get what you deserve.”

Workers at the rally were heartened by Breed joining their cause.

Larrilou Carumba, a Marriott housekeeper and mother of three, said Breed’s speech was stirring.

“It gives us hope that the mayor is supporting us,” she said,” it gives us strength.”

joe@sfmediaco.com

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