Boston students join Marriott workers on strike

Boston students marched with backpacks and painted cardboard signs down Huntington Avenue on Nov. 1 to join Marriott hotel workers during their fifth week on strike.

Student protestors first joined the strikers from UNITE HERE Local 26 at The Westin Copley Place and then walked to the W Boston Hotel, a few blocks away. Approximately 50 protestors came from a variety of colleges in the Greater Boston area, including Emerson College. Students organizations from Northeastern University, Harvard University, Tufts University, and Boston University created and hosted the event.

Earlier this month, 1,500 workers walked out on seven Marriott-operated hotels, completing the first hotel strike in Boston’s history.

Protestors faced the entrance of The Westin Copley Place, chanting “Don’t check in. Check out,” as hotel guests stepped into taxis with their heads down.

Alumna and Union Spokesperson for UNITE HERE Local 26 Nicki Morris ‘15 appeared at the rally for part of the evening.

“We’re thankful the students came out to join us on the picket line and came out to support; it means a lot that the students in Boston are supporting the workers on strike at Marriott,” Morris said in a phone interview after the protest. “Together we will win one job that’s enough for workers in this city to live on.”

The Marriott said in a statement on Oct. 2 that it was disappointed UNITE HERE resorted to a strike at this time, according to Boston Magazine.

“During the strike, our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests,” read the statement. “While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work.”

Sophomore Mariah Sitner, a member of Boston Socialist Alternative, marched among the students, carrying a sign that read, “Stand up, fight back.”

“I think we’re seeing young people care a lot more about labor issues because they realize that once they get out of school, they’re gonna be working jobs like in a hotel, maybe at a school, and now they’re finally starting to realize that these issues apply to them,” Sitner said.

Sitner joined Boston Socialist Alternative, an organization supporting unions and the working class, last October.

“I think that just staying on top of labor issues that are around you, and going to support workers, is the most that anybody can do,” Sitner said.

Enrique Fernandez, Dorchester resident, began working as a banquet waiter at The Westin 29 years ago. Fernandez said he joined the strike because workers should have the ability to retire with dignity, receive a pension, and live off one job.

“They give us the courage to go on,” Fernandez said in an interview.

Students huddled into a group at the side of the hotel entrance chanting “We’ll be back” before dispersing at 7 p.m.

“As we say, ‘rain or shine on the picket line,’” said Fernandez.

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