New tech­nol­ogy, house­keep­ing among con­cerns in ho­tel strikes

Pawtucket Times - - OBITUARIES / REGION -

BOS­TON (AP) — Ro­bots de­liv­er­ing room ser­vice, check-in kiosks with fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy and “smart” speak­ers that serve as an in-room concierge.

The ho­tel of the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture sounds like some­thing out of a sci-fi novel, but it’s draw­ing real world anx­i­ety for some of the thou­sands of Mar­riott ho­tel work­ers on strike across the U.S. this month.

“I’m not against tech­nol­ogy,” said Juan Euse­bio, a 32-year-old door­man at the W Ho­tel in Bos­ton and a mem­ber of the lo­cal union’s ne­go­ti­at­ing team. “I just want any tech­nol­ogy that comes in to help us do a bet­ter job, not take our jobs away.”

How much in­put work­ers have as these and other tech­nolo­gies are in­tro­duced is among the core is­sues for the nearly 8,000 work­ers that have walked off their jobs at Mar­riott ho­tels from Bos­ton to Honolulu since last week, union of­fi­cials say.

Work­ers are also seek­ing changes to house­keeper work­loads, par­tic­u­larly as “green” pro­grams al­low­ing guests to opt out of clean­ing ser­vices be­come more pop­u­lar. They’re also push­ing for job pro­tec­tions for restau­rant and bar staff as more ho­tels shut­ter those fa­cil­i­ties.

Mar­riott, the world’s largest ho­tel op­er­a­tor, de­clined to com­ment for this story, but has said it’s “dis­ap­pointed” work­ers have de­cided to strike.

Mar­riott work­ers walked out of ho­tels across Bos­ton last week, fol­lowed by work­ers in San Fran­cisco, San Diego, Oak­land, San Jose, De­troit and Honolulu. Some 6,000 work­ers at 26 ho­tels in Chicago also went on strike last month, though most have re­turned to work af­ter reach­ing new con­tracts with Mar­riott, Hil­ton, Hy­att and other op­er­a­tors.

Mar­riott has 5,000 ho­tels in the U.S. and Canada, of which about 40 are im­pacted by the cur­rent la­bor union ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The union’s pro­pos­als vary be­tween cities, but gen­er­ally work­ers are seek­ing bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion to keep up with soar­ing hous­ing and liv­ing costs, said D. Tay­lor, in­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent of Unite Here.

Unions agreed to forgo pay raises dur­ing the lean re­ces­sion years to pre­serve jobs, but now that the in­dus­try is reap­ing record prof­its in some cities, they want to share in the wind­fall, he said.

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