Marriott hotel workers on strike reach tentative agreement over wages

Marriott hotel workers on strike reach tentative agreement over wages

BOSTON — After going on strike for months to protest unfair wages, hundreds of Marriott hotel workers with Boston's Local 26 union may soon vote on a new deal.

In an announcement via Twitter, Boston's Local 26 union said they reached a tentative agreement and have a ratification vote scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Hynes Convention Center on Saturday.

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The new contract will give Marriott hotel workers significant pay bumps and benefits they've never had before.

"It's the best contract we've ever seen," server Courtney Leonard said. "Best contract Boston's ever seen."

The new contract meets all the goals hotel workers were fighting for, including better pay for all employees, plus benefits like maternity leave, a bigger pension and more guaranteed work hours.

"I'd like to start a family" Leonard said. "I'm recently married, but I was petrified to bring a child into this world and not be able to afford it."

Before the change, servers couldn't rely on these jobs to make ends meet.

"It was not easy," housekeeper Asmere Hagos said. "I work all my life, two jobs."

After months of negotiations, more than 1,500 housekeepers, cooks, servers and dishwashers have been voicing their dissatisfaction with unfair wages, many arguing they should not have to work more than one full time job to provide for their families.

Some of the local's members have had to work second and third jobs just to cover their family's living expenses and rent, the union says, and "One job should be enough."

"If we needed to go another week longer, people would have done that, too," Brian Lang, the union's president, said. "At the end of the day, the deal is that, what we've proven is that ordinary working people can stand up to power in a way that's very effective."

The changes impact workers at seven hotels in Boston, who will now go back to work on Wednesday and earn back pay since their last contract ended.

This was the first hotel strike in the city's history.

The last time Local 26 went on strike was at Harvard in October 2016. Dining hall workers walked out for 22 days before eventually settling on a contract with the university.

The strike affected seven Marriott-operated hotels in downtown Boston, the union said, including the Aloft Boston Seaport District; the Element Boston Seaport District; the Ritz-Carlton Boston; the Sheraton Boston; the W Hotel Boston; the Westin Boston Waterfront; and the Westin Copley Place.

Workers at Marriott properties in other cities -- including Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle -- have either voted to authorize a strike or walked off the job in recent months.