Members of UNITE HERE Set Standard in Contract with Marriott

From the AFL-CIO

As details of the agreements between UNITE HERE workers and Marriott become public, one thing is clear: These victories provide a blueprint for collective bargaining going forward. As Brian Lang, president of UNITE HERE Local 26 in Boston said, “It changes people’s expectations about what’s possible.”

For more than two months, 7,700 hotel workers from Boston to Hawaii went on strike, demanding better wages and respect from Marriott, the most profitable hotel chain in the world.

These workers not only won better wages, they won a better future. Their wins could show the way forward for all workers, whether they’re in a union or not.

While the contracts vary by each location, here are six top noteworthy wins from across the country:

  • A 20% raise over 4.5 years;
  • A 37% increase in pension contributions;
  • Six weeks of paid maternity leave, plus two weeks for spouses;
  • A paid holiday for every worker who becomes an American citizen;
  • Advance notice and training for workers whose jobs will be affected by new technology; and
  • Cutting-edge sexual harassment protections for workers.

The technology provisions of these contracts are especially noteworthy, as workers won the right to be at the bargaining table to discuss things like automated check-ins or robotic bellhops, instead of management deploying them without workers’ input.

We want to have a handle on our future. This is an act of self-determination,” said Jean Te’o-Gibney, UNITE HERE Local 5 member and Royal Hawaiian front desk worker.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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