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Background information provided by HERE Local 2 in San Francisco

San Francisco Marriott Labor Dispute


        Twenty-year struggle.  In 1980 when Marriott was chosen to develop the San Francisco convention center hotel, the notoriously anti-union company promised the City of San Francisco and Local 2 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union that it would not fight unionization.  Twenty years later, the company is still refusing to sign a fair union contract with its employees.


        Union wins recognition.  In October 1996, shortly after the end of Marriott's protracted legal battle to renege on that commitment, Local 2 was certified to represent 925 Marriott workers.  Contract negotiations began shortly thereafter and quickly stalled.


        Contract issues.  Employees are fighting for basic rights that are the norm for union hotels in San Francisco, including regular days off, overtime pay for six and seven days worked in a row, retirement benefits for the majority instead of just a few, and seniority rights.


        Marriott's anti-union campaign.  Instead of signing a contract, the hotel has conducted a campaign to get rid of the union, which has included illegally denying wage and benefit improvements to only workers represented by Local 2; bargaining in bad faith; discriminating against employees because of union activity; and holding mandatory meetings urging workers to decertify the union.


        Federal government indicts Marriott.  Following an 18-month investigation, Marriott was indicted by the federal government for severely violating labor law.  In addition to facing trial, Marriott entered into an agreement to settle 72 charges alleging that it violated its workers' right to organize.


        Marriott makes $1.5 million payment to workers.  In September 1998, as the federal government neared the end of their investigation of the hotel's numerous violations of labor law, Marriott attempted to defuse the pending charges and curry favor with its employees by making the $1.5 million in back payments and additional benefit improvements the company had initially denied them.  Workers are clear that their work with the union and the impending charges at the National Labor Relations Board were responsible for Marriott's sudden change of heart.


        Marriott workers are strong.  Marriott workers have participated in an escalating campaign to get a fair contract, which has included three-times weekly picketing at the hotel; wearing large union buttons on the job; a "teach-in" in the employee cafeteria to educate workers about Marriott's illegal campaign; a "sit-in" in the hotel lobby, during which SF Board Supervisor Tom Ammiano and 51 other protesters were arrested; and a 1,250-person demonstration in front of the hotel on November 17, 1998, during which AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and 149 other protesters were arrested for blocking traffic.  Negotiations with Marriott resumed in July 1999.


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