Union members march in solidarity with hotel workers on September holiday

Photo: Jack Adams.

Union workers took to the streets on Labor Day evening in support of hotel workers who are advocating for contract negotiations with Marriott employers.

The workers picketed in front of The Westin Copley Place, Boston hotel entrance on Huntington Avenue and were joined by dozens of other union workers from different job sectors.

“I feel like we’re all in it together,” said Chaton Green, a 31-year-old sprinkler fitter from Roxbury and member of Local 550. “The changes made to my life because of the union have been great – great benefits for my family and a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work.”

Green joined several members donning SEIU purple t-shirts who rallied at Copley Square prior to the march.

Those present held signs saying “Fair Contracts Now,” “I’m Ready to Strike” and “Massachusetts Needs Unions.”

Photo: Jack Adams.

The SEIU rally merged with hotel workers from UNITE HERE Local 26 who wore red shirts and chanted“No contract, no peace.” About 22 of those hotel workers linked arms and sat in the middle of the street as police blocked traffic.

Later on, the protestors rose and marched up Huntington Avenue, past the Prudential Center and into the Symphony area.

The crowd of protesters took up four lanes of traffic and was escorted by police.

The entire time the crowd screamed “If we don’t get it shut it down” and “What kind of power? Union power!” They held a banner saying “One Job Should Be Enough,” which was also printed on their t-shirts.

Cathy Walsh, a 72-year-old banquet server from Somerville, said Marriott workers have been without a contract since March.

“They’re trying to take things away from us, they want to cut us back on the pay and on the medical,” Walsh said. “They add staff to the functions so we have less money. We’re the only hotel in Boston that doesn’t have what the other hotels have.”

Walsh and the crowd continued the march up from Symphony and on to Massachusetts Avenue.

After turning onto Boylston Street, some of the protesters made a beeline to the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Dalton Street and crowded the lobby chanting “Strike! Strike!”

Police immediately used their bicycles to block the entry of the hotel from the rest of the protesters. In the lobby a protester announced that Marriott workers will be taking a strike vote on Sept. 12 if there are no contracts.

Outside of the Sheraton Boston Hotel, UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang told the crowd of over 100 protesters, “If there is a strike, there’s going to be one like the city’s never seen.”

“As you can see, we’re not just Marriott workers, we are a village,” Lang said. “If we don’t get it, we’ll be back.”

Jordan Frias

Jordan Frias is an editorial assistant at Boston Herald and a contributor of Spare Change News. He is vice president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a graduate of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

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