By Katie Johnston and John Hilliard
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent
November 17, 2018
Striking Marriott employees will return to work Wednesday after members of the hospitality union representing the workers overwhelming approved a new contract Saturday afternoon with the hotel chain.“We have taken a tremendous step forward in the direction of one job being enough for hotel workers in this city,” Brian Lang, president of Unite Here Local 26, told reporters as votes were being tallied following a union meeting at the Hynes Convention Center.Lang declined to release specific details of the agreement until the remaining 5,000 Marriott workers who are on strike in San Francisco and two locations in Hawaii settle their contracts. In all, 8,000 Marriott workers walked off the job this fall, and agreements have been reached in four other cities — Detroit, San Jose, Oakland, and San Diego.
In a statement to the Globe early Saturday afternoon, Marriott officials confirmed that a tentative deal had been reached.
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“We look forward to welcoming our associates back to work,” a spokesman said in an e-mail.
The agreement addresses all the issues the union had raised over wages, job security, hours, scheduling, pregnancy accommodations, and sexual harassment protections, and technology, Lang said.Employees will receive back pay to March 1, he said.For hotel housekeepers, who he called part of the “backbone” of the strike, the new deal means their lives will be “a little richer, the workload is going to be a little lighter.”
Lang said the union had a good dialogue with Marriott over the past week leading to the agreement.“At the end of the day, Marriott stepped up, they have met all of our goals, they have set a new standard for hotel workers in the city, and we expect the rest of the hotel employers to do exactly the same thing,” Lang said.The work stoppage was the city’s first major hotel strike in modern history, involving 1,500 employees, from housekeepers to bartenders to doormen, at seven hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton Boston, Sheraton Boston, and Westin Copley Place. The Boston workers, who went on strike Oct. 3, were the first Marriott employees nationwide to walk out. Local 26 will use the Marriott contract as a basis for its negotiations with the rest of the unionized hotels in the Boston area — there are 32 in all — a few of whom have already said they would agree to the same terms. Lang said he hopes that the deal will set the stage for other agreements between workers and employers.
“What we’ve proven is that ordinary working people can stand up to power in a way that is very effective,” Lang said, later adding that “we can take on power and be treated as equals.”Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a community event in Jamaica Plain late Saturday afternoon that he was thankful for the agreement. He said Lang had told him about the tentative agreement reached Friday evening.“I am very grateful for that and happy for the workers,” he said. “They were out of work for over seven weeks.“Everyone is pleased it’s over. I always love to see that we don’t have to have a job action to come up with solutions, but in this case they needed one and it got resolved.”Earlier in the day, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell praised the union in an e-mail to the Globe.“I was proud to stand with Local 26, and applaud their courage,” Campbell said. “I’m happy to see Marriott leadership and the union reach a deal that will set a new standard of benefit for these hardworking employees and ensure our hotel industry continues to thrive in Boston.”City Councilor Michelle Wu said she passed along her “respect and gratitude” to the union and commended all parties for reaching a tentative deal.“I’m delighted to hear that these courageous workers have reached a deal after many weeks of advocacy,” Wu said in an e-mail to the Globe. “Their hard-won contract terms mean not just stability for their own families, but brighter prospects for economic mobility across our city and beyond.”Globe correspondent Alejandro Serrano contributed to this report. Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston. John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.