Why Thousands of Marriott Employees Are Protesting Tomorrow

June 26, 2018, 9:20 PM UTC

Marriott International employees, including housekeepers and other hotel staff, are planning major protests for tomorrow, June 27. The hotel chain’s unionized workers, many of whom are about to enter contract negotiations, say the protests are intended to highlight workplace sexual harassment, violence, and on-the-job injuries.

Thousands are expected to take part in the largest protests, planned for Honolulu, San Francisco, and Boston. In Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Jose, hundreds more are expected to take to the streets.

Non-unionized workers are also expected to join the demonstrations in solidarity.

About 20,000 Marriott workers are represented by labor union Unite Here. As contract negotiations get underway, some 12,000 of those employees have contracts expiring later this year, Rachel Gumpert, Unite Here’s press secretary told USA Today. “It’s an incredible moment of mass expirations that we are facing with Marriott,” Gumpert said.

“I don’t think Marriott wants an unsafe environment at all, but sometimes you’ve got to force people to do the right thing,” Unite Here national president D. Taylor told Buzzfeed in an article about other workplace-related issues that will likely be addressed in contract negotiations including installing panic buttons for hotel staffers to push in the event of guest interactions becoming violent or criminal.

A Marriott spokesperson declined to address the specific issues raised by Unite Here. “While the negotiation process is moving forward, Unite Here and some of its members are engaged in demonstrations (Wednesday) to express their views on important issues. Marriott is a company that values the contributions of all our associates, and we respect the right of people to voice their opinions,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to USA Today.

Marriott became of the biggest global hotel chains when it acquired Starwood for $13.6 billion in 2016. Across 30 brands including Ritz-Carlton, Westin and Sheraton, Marriott International has more than 1.2 million rooms in 127 countries and territories.