Why Marriott Workers Across the Country Went on Strike

Would-be Marriott guests across the country were taken by surprise recently when they arrived to check in and found a picket line: Marriott workers in eight cities were on strike.

The labor action, driven by worker-organizers at union UNITE HERE, called for better pay and safer working conditions. Given that a labor contract was set to expire, they feared the hotel chain wouldn’t settle a new collective bargaining agreement in a timely fashion.

Take action: Join Care2 members calling on Marriott to bargain in good faith with their workers!

Strikers have taken up the slogan “one job should be enough,” a reference to low pay for hotel workers and the fact that many people in the hospitality industry have to work multiple jobs to survive. Wages — $15 and a union, specifically — aren’t the only thing on the minds of hospitality workers.

Hotel workers deal with grueling and sometimes dangerous workloads. Housekeepers, for example, are pushed to turn over rooms quickly, lugging heavy carts, flipping cumbersome mattresses and spending hours on their knees as they clean rooms as swiftly as possible. Repetitive stress injuries are recurrent, and housekeepers are also exposed to hazards like sharps discarded in hotel room garbage.

For women in hospitality in particular, there’s another concern: sexual harassment and assault from supervisors and guests. The “hands off, pants on” campaign in Chicago is working to educate consumers about this issue and push for protections at hotel properties.

Many hotel workers are also immigrants — some of whom are also undocumented, which makes them very unsafe in the current political climate. Pushing for more respect and humane working conditions can also empower immigrants to protect themselves from harassment and abuse; individuals who fear deportation or other reprisals may be nervous about reporting incidents, for example, or may feel like they have to tolerate unsafe conditions at work.

Job security is also a concern for workers, who are frustrated with being kept on-call by their employer and never knowing how many hours of work they’ll get and when. This is compounded by uncertainty about the future, which makes it hard to plan out life decisions from electing for insurance coverage to moving to a home in a better school district.

What Should I Do If There’s a Picket Line at My Hotel?

Hotel strikes can be discombobulating for travelers, especially those who don’t know a city well or who are attending a conference or other organized event. Especially if it’s late at night, you’ve just had a long flight and you just want to go to bed, it may not be the sight you were hoping for when you exited the subway station thinking of a hot shower and cozy sheets.

But as with other labor actions, it’s important to avoid crossing a picket line. Workers need your solidarity to make your point to their employers; if people decide to stay at the hotel anyway, the company may decide that the issue isn’t very important and fail to take action on the requests of workers.

So start by talking to workers: Ask them why they’re striking and if they have any information you can take with you. Ask the workers for alternate recommendations for nearby accommodations, or use a tool like FairHotel.org to find one.

If you’re traveling in association with a group or organized event, get in touch with the coordinator ASAP to discuss the situation and ask them what they plan to do. Push to reaccommodate everyone at a venue that’s not striking, and make it clear that you won’t be crossing the picket to attend events. If they’re unsupportive, consider organizing with other members of your group; hold that conference panel in the city park across the hotel, or take the meet and greet to a local restaurant instead of the hotel bar.

Take Action!

Care2 members like you are asking Marriott to come to the bargaining table with UNITE HERE and finalize a new contract that includes better wages and protections for workers.

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: Bastian Greshake Tzovaras/Creative Commons


Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you

Chad Anderson
Chad A8 months ago

Thank you.

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga9 months ago


Dot A
Dot A9 months ago

Pathetic~ Some people scramble to collect a less than sufficient wage, while 1% of this nation could buy and sell many companies, plus fly over the globe in their private jets, or visit their multiple homes that are cared for by paid servants. Doesn't anybody in our government see that we are failing as a nation??? Well, question asked and answered: "Of course they can see it, but they just don't have an atom of feeling about it." GREED. It will kill us all if we don't find the cure. And too many are willing to die for it. Love of money, - the germ of destruction and eventual demise. There is a wise phrase which has lost its social familiarity: 'Be in this world, not of it. But, care for it.' When others are suffering, that means, respond with caring. - When will we ever learn? SONG: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" - by Peter, Paul and Mary. If we aren't more caring very soon, we will have let all the flowers wither, and our humanity will have suffered loses that no one can imagine~ - and the 'crazy rich' will not find a safe place to be either.....

Anne M
Anne Moran9 months ago

Flipping mattresses ?? - WTH are they doing that for ?? - Never heard of that before... - Whenever we go on holidays,, we ALWAYS leave a note for the housekeepers,, saying not to make beds up, or do anything else, but change the towels,, and that's it.. - Like to make their load a little easier,, and they can go home a little earlier too.. - They belong to a union,, the hospitality union,, so they should be making good wages and have great pensions..

Daniel N
Past Member 9 months ago

thank you

Jetana A
Jetana A9 months ago

With the cost of living so high, a universal $15/hr minimum wage hardly seems adequate. I didn't see any current wages in this article, and I wonder what they are.

Janis K
Janis K9 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

danii p
danii p9 months ago

Thanks for sharing

danii p
danii p9 months ago

Thanks for sharing