San Diego hotel workers end 35-day strike with new contract

More than a month after walking off their jobs, striking workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp hotel voted Sunday to ratify a new contract.

The vote by the downtown hotel’s housekeepers, banquet captains, servers and other employees represented by Unite Here Local 30 brings to an end a 35-day strike that union members authorized in hopes of securing improved pay and benefits.

Unite Here said the vote was 100 percent in favor of ratifying the new contract. In all, there are 162 workers at the Westin hotel who are Unite Here members.

The San Diego strike was part of a nationwide job action involving 7,700 workers at hotels managed or owned by Marriott International across eight cities. In recent days, Unite Here reached agreement with hotels in Detroit, Oakland and San Jose, but some 7,000 workers still remain on strike in San Francisco, Boston, Maui and Oahu.

Union leaders on Sunday declined to disclose terms of the new contract, opting to keep them under wraps until all remaining strikes have ended.

“We are excited to have reached an agreement for a strong contract that will change the lives of these brave and determined hotel workers, and we’re grateful for the overwhelming solidarity from our brothers and sisters in labor, the community, and all of the local, regional,and state elected officials that constantly stood by us,” said Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local 30. “We are encouraged and hopeful that similar progress can be achieved in Boston, Hawaii, and San Francisco so that soon one job will be enough to live on, with dignity, at every Marriott in all cities.”

Rachel Gumpert, national press secretary for Unite Here, has said that the terms negotiated by the local unions represent “historic progress” in the areas of working conditions, wages and benefits and job security.

Upon learning that the contract had been ratified, a spokesperson with Marriott International said, “We look forward to welcoming our associates back at work.”

In San Diego, issues raised by the union included better pay and health benefits, increasing automation that could potentially jeopardize jobs, and so-called "green" initiatives that let guests opt out of having their rooms cleaned. In some cases, workers complain that such initiatives lead to hours being cut, and once guests do check out of those rooms, the union argues that there can be considerably more work involved to clean them.

Workers at the Horton Plaza hotel had been without a contract since April of last year.

The walkout by the Westin Gaslamp workers marks the first hotel strike in San Diego County since 2000, when workers at the Hotel del Coronado walked off the job for one day, according to Unite Here.

SanDiego CLC