Success! Historic Marriott Strike Ends With Big Wins for Housekeepers

It took two months, but the Marriott housekeepers who went on strike across eight cities and 23 properties have agreed on contract terms. San Francisco, the lone holdout, has finally settled with its housekeepers.

This strike and subsequent contact agreement affected nearly 8,000 workers and their families, and it represents a significant win for organized labor, as well as the housekeepers themselves.

Housekeeping is grueling, thankless work. Hotel housekeepers have to move extremely heavy carts through halls and between floors to clean rooms — and they’re under pressure to move fast. The fad for hefty pillow top mattresses has made their jobs even harder; making the bed alone and at speed is no easy task. From room to room, they may encounter biohazards and other personal safety risks, and they tend to make very little money.

But labor organizing has allowed housekeepers to bargain collectively for better working conditions across a variety of hotel chains.

The specifics of the deal reached vary from hotel to hotel, but they generally addressed the concerns raised by hotel housekeepers worried about their working conditions. The most prominent issue — and the one that became a rallying cry for the strike — was pay: Housekeepers argued that “one job should be enough.”

Workers in all states received raises. In San Francisco, for example, housekeepers got a $4 raise – a recognition of the high cost of living in the Bay Area. Organizers also successfully obtained pensions for long-time employees and locked in health insurance premiums.

Striking workers were also very concerned about the risk for automation, which they see as a threat to their jobs. Automation and initiatives like green guest programs — which encourage guests to keep their towels and linens from day to day instead of asking for replacements — can threaten employment for housekeepers and other hotel personnel. Part of the terms of the deal included opportunities for people to move laterally across Marriott positions if they are displaced by automation and workplace efficiency programs.

But money wasn’t the only thing on housekeepers’ minds. Another big concern is sexual harassment and assault on the job, from guests as well as colleagues.

Housekeepers in numerous hotel chains have been pushing for panic buttons, which would allow them to call for help if they’re cornered by guests while they’re trying to service rooms — and Marriott agreed to this. In addition, the chain agreed to start blacklisting guests who have a history of inappropriate conduct in order to make the workplace safer and healthier for everyone.

Success!

When the Care2 team learned that Marriott workers lacked fair pay and safe working conditions, they created a petition asking the international hotel chain to provide its employees with better treatment.

The Care2 petition garnered over 47,000 signatures demanding that Marriott do the right thing in the face of widespread worker strikes. Thanks to Care2 members and workers’ rights activists everywhere, Marriott has finally met housekeeper demands.

Congratulations to everyone who took a stand!

Choosing an Ethical Hotel

Housekeepers have been at the forefront of the battle for bodily autonomy in the workplace for decades. The vast majority of housekeepers are women — many of whom are women of color — and immigrants are overrepresented in the service industry. This makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse that unfortunately comes from supervisors and coworkers as well as guests. The #HandsOffPantsOn campaign highlighted this issue.

It can be hard to learn about the working conditions in the hotels we visit — especially for travelers who are not multilingual, since in areas with high immigrant populations, housekeepers may speak minimal English and fear reprisals if they’re honest with guests about their working conditions. But it’s important for travelers to think responsibly and ethically, particularly in settings where they are deciding where to spend company money on business.

Fair Hotel provides a guide to union hotels, and you can also try searching for a specific hotel’s name in connection with labor disputes, sexual harassment claims and other red flags. Sometimes it costs a little more to make an ethical choice, but sending a signal with your wallet can have a powerful impact on the industry.

Marriott Data Breach

Savvy readers may already know that Marriott has another public relations nightmare on its hands: a data breach that affected 500 million guests. If you’ve stayed in a Marriott or a Starwood hotel, it’s possible your data may have been compromised. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the major bureaus – and you can also put a fraud alert on your account, which will add verification steps to any attempt to take credit out in your name. If you’re extremely worried, you can freeze your credit.

You may also wish to change passwords on any accounts associated with your hotel records, including email and hotel loyalty programs. If fraud does occur, Marriott has indicated that it will pay to replace compromised passports.

Congratulations to Care2 members who signed the petition and took a stand for workers’ rights!

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.

 

Photo credit: Ming-yen Hsu/Creative Commons

53 comments

hELEN h
hELEN h3 days ago

tyfs

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Jeramie D
Jeramie Dabout a month ago

Thanks

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Sophie A
Sophie Aabout a month ago

thank you

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Amparo Fabiana C
Amparo Fabiana Cabout a month ago

Protect workers and maids. They do an honest job.

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Carol C
Carol Cabout a month ago

Hooray for the Marriott housekeepers and for labor unions! Many thanks for this post and the Fair Hotel link.

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Gino C
Gino Cabout a month ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii pabout a month ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii pabout a month ago

Thank you

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

a small victory I suppose

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Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Aabout a month ago

Housekeeping is such a thankless job. I am glad to see that they will be getting a little more pay at least.

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