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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 21, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 38
Westin Hotel workers vote to strike
Section One
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Westin Hotel workers vote to strike

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Workers at Seattle's iconic Westin Hotel voted on September 14 to authorize a strike by a whopping 98% margin, following 22 other hotels in five cities.

Strike votes have been held by more than 8,000 union workers in Seattle, San Francisco, Waikiki, Maui, Boston, and San José.

MLK Labor, the central labor council that covers King County, gave strike sanction to UNITE HERE Local 8, the union representing Westin workers, on September 19. That means that the union is free to call a strike at any time.

The Westin Hotel was recently acquired by the Marriott hotel chain, and although Westin workers have had a union contract for many years, the union says that Marriott is resisting a fair settlement.

The most crucial point of contention is compensation, Westin workers say. Many report having to take second - or even third - jobs just to make ends meet, including workers who have many years of experience at the Westin.

In addition, workers are fighting for improved workplace safety. Rather than reducing room quotas for housekeeping staff, Marriott has increased the quota to 19 rooms per day, causing physical injuries to workers.

Westin housekeepers are also critical of the so-called 'Green Choice' program, which asks hotel guests to opt out of daily room cleaning - supposedly to save energy on laundering bed linens. The energy savings are minimal, hotel workers say, but the additional labor required to clean rooms after a long stay contributes to work-related injuries.

UNITE HERE Local 8 represents over 5,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Washington and Oregon, including 400 Marriott workers at the Westin Seattle.

The union will assist organizations that may have booked events at the Westin - or may be planning to do so - to find another venue in case of a strike.

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