Terminated Marriott workers protest job loss, low severance as hotel industry continues to suffer

Terminated Marriott workers protest job loss, low severance as hotel industry continues to suffer

BOSTON — Dozens of former Marriott employees protested outside of the hotel in Copley Square on Friday, following a massive round of layoffs earlier this fall.

Many said they were short-changed on severance packages, given less than what they had been promised, and that they would have to re-apply for their jobs if they became open again.

Betriz Torres, a 23-year concierge attendant at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, said she cried when she was told that her position was being eliminated.

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“Overall the wintertime without a job, without money, I don’t know what is going to happen,” she said. “Right now I am collecting unemployment but that is going to end very soon.”

In September, 231 employees were told their positions were being eliminated.

Carlos Aramayo is the President of Unite Here Local 26, a union that represents thousands of hotel workers in the Greater Boston Area.

Aramayo told Boston 25 News that each employee was promised a week’s worth of severance pay for every year they worked at the Marriott Hotel. He added that the hotel chain recently decided to cap that pay at 10 weeks, neglecting decades of employee work experience.

He said he felt that employees should be guaranteed their positions back if they were reopened.

“They should have the opportunity to get their jobs back when and if business returns to the city,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen to anybody. This is a disgusting and cynical act by Marriott in the middle of a pandemic.”

Boston 25 News reached out to the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Friday and received the following statement:

We respect the right to demonstrate. Our hotel has experienced unprecedented business impact due to the pandemic, and has  made the difficult decision to reduce staff. We have worked diligently to offer a severance that is competitive within the industry, and to provide support and resources for our valued employees under these challenging circumstances.”

The frustrations come as the hotel industry continues to suffer due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On Wednesday, the American Hotel and Lodging Association reported that 71% of hotel managers across the country indicate they will not make it another 6 months without federal assistance. 77% said they would be forced to lay off more workers.

According to Aramayo, there is currently a 10-20% occupancy rate in Boston-area hotels.

Across the state, tens of thousands of hotel-related jobs have already been lost.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association predicts that because holiday travel will likely be way down this year, the challenges facing the hotel industry will only continue to get worse.

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