MARRIOTT WORKERS: “ONE JOB SHOULD BE ENOUGH!”

Photographs by David Bacon
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HONOLULU, HI – 16MAY18 – Hotel workers in Hawaii are protesting low wages that force many workers to work an additional job besides their job at the hotel. Copyright David Bacon

On June 27 thousands of union and non-union Marriott workers organized demonstrations in San Francisco, Oakland, Honolulu, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Jose. Workers carried signs saying, “One Job Should Be Enough!” About 20,000 Marriott workers are represented by Unite Here. As contract negotiations get underway, some 12,000 of those employees have contracts expiring later this year.

Marriott is the largest and richest hotel company on the planet, earning $22.9 billion in 2017. Profits have gone up 279% since the recession, while hotel workers’ annual income only increased 7%.

According to D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE, “Too often workers welcome guests to Marriott hotels and deliver an unforgettable experience to them, just to leave their shift and go to a second job because working full time for Marriott isn’t enough to make ends meet.”

Marriott became the biggest global hotel chain when it acquired Starwood for $13.6 billion in 2016. The company’s 30 brands include Ritz-Carlton, Westin and Sheraton, accounting for more than 1.2 million rooms in over 6500 hotels in 127 countries and territories. It opens a new hotel every 18 hours.

Technology is transforming hotel work, with self-check-in kiosks, robot room-service delivery, and mechanical bartenders. In negotiations, workers want guarantees that jobs will not only pay enouogh to live on, but will last during this period of change.

Meanwhile, hotel work is not just underpaid, but is dangerous. In Chicago the union found roughly half of hotel housekeepers had been the victims of sexual misconduct from guests. One man assaulted housekeepers in DC eight times over eight years. A Florida Marriott worker was assaulted in a hotel bathroom. In San Francisco a man committed suicide after attacking and critically injuring a housekeeper.

In negotiations Unite Here is not only demanding increases in wages and benefits, but greater protections, including panic buttons. This year the Chicago union won them for workers with a campaign, Hands Off, Pants On.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 8MAY18 – Hotel workers at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco are protesting low wages that force many workers to work an additional job besides their job at the hotel. Copyright David Bacon

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When the Teenager Is the Breadwinner

The Fight for 15 movement could free the children of low-income workers from the need to work after school to keep their families afloat.The Fight for 15 movement could free the children of low-income workers from the need to work after school to keep their families afloat. (Photo: peoplesworld)

…An intersection of race, class and gender

By Yana Kunichoff
In These Times

Jan 5, 2015 – Like many immigrant families, that of Iris Sebastian (a pseudonym) has long played a precarious financial balancing game.

Her parents, Luis and Josefa, both crossed the border from Mexico in the mid-1990s. They met in the U.S. and settled down in Houston, where they had Iris, the oldest of four girls, soon after. Thus began the balancing game. As Luis and Josefa worked low-wage jobs in service or day labor to support themselves and their children, the family was in constant discussion about how to save a little here, a little there. Maybe that meant secondhand clothes or going without new school supplies. Or it could mean a few extra nights of work for Luis or Josefa at their second jobs as cooks.

Working two jobs and trading child care responsibilities sustained them through the boom of the 1990s and even the initial dip of the 2008 recession. From 2005 to 2013, both had steady cook jobs at a Burger King in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

That all changed in the fall of 2013. Luis had long suffered from diabetes, and fluid retention in his legs made it increasingly difficult to work on his feet all day, as his service jobs demanded. Eventually he had to severely cut down his working hours. The balancing act became more precarious.

As the oldest daughter, Iris, an 18-year-old high school junior, felt it was her responsibility to keep the family afloat.

“I was telling [my parents] I needed to get a job,” she says . “I always see my mother and she is stressed, I see my dad and his legs are swollen.” She’d tell him, “I know we need money, but I need you to calm down and relax.”

Against the wishes of her family, she, too, took a job. Four or five days a week, Iris works at Smoothie King, a local chain, for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It’s not uncommon for young people to work. Of the 16.7 million young people aged 16–19 in the United States in November 2014, 28.6 percent were employed and another 20 percent were looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, a quarter of Latino youth like Iris are employed.

But what distinguishes Iris is the reason she entered the workforce—economic need. The children of poor families already start off further behind for a slew of reasons, including food insecurity, growing up in a neighborhood without adequate resources, and simply the stress of being poor.  (Continued)

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Walmart Black Friday Protests Hit Major Cities With Calls for ‘$15 and Full Time’

By Dave Jamieson

Huffington Post

Nov 28, 2014 – Dan Schlademan, campaign director of Making Change at Walmart, a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said on a call with reporters Friday that he expects the number of strikers to be in the hundreds by the end of the day, though the group could not provide a specific number of workers who’d submitted strike notices to their bosses.

"All the signs that we’re seeing is that this is going to be the biggest day ever," Schlademan said.

Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart, told HuffPost that the retailer was more concerned with serving its customers than with protests it views as union stunts. According to Buchanan, more than 22 million shoppers came to Walmart stores on Thanksgiving alone this year.

"We’re really focused on our customers," Buchanan said. "We’ve got millions of customers coming in [on Thanksgiving] and Friday, and we’re making sure they have a safe and exciting shopping experience."

In D.C., a crowd estimated at 200 to 400 people assembled outside the Walmart store on H Street Northwest, calling on the retailer to commit to "$15 and full time" — a wage of $15 per hour, the same rate demanded by fast-food strikers, and a full-time schedule for those who want it. One of OUR Walmart’s top criticisms of the retailer is that part-time workers don’t get enough hours.

The protest was large enough to draw the D.C. police, who stood at the store’s doors and dispersed the crowd after about an hour.

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