Hotel workers in various U.S. markets have recently gone on strike to earn better pay, benefits and job protection. This timeline was updated to include negotiations in Los Angeles and the continued strike at the Cambria Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile.
Editor’s note: This timeline was updated to include negotiations in Los Angeles and the continued strike at the Cambria Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Thousands of hotel workers have spent at least portions of the fall walking picket lines as a wave of strikes hit multiple markets and properties across the U.S.
Many of those strikes were related to hotels carrying the Marriott International flag, but that company has clearly not been the only impacted, with various brands seeing strikes in Chicago, and different ownership groups affected across the country.
Union groups, largely affiliated with labor union Unite Here, have been seeking greater pay and benefits along with job protections, pointing to a combination of strong corporate performance across the hotel industry and economy, as well as the impending threat of automation.
Here’s a comprehensive timeline of those strikes from beginning to, in most but not all cases, resolution:
16 August – Workers at “dozens” of Chicago hotels vote to authorize a strike with the promise to hit the picket lines if a deal can’t be reached by the 31 August deadline, which was when the workers’ existing deal expired.
3 September – Workers at San Francisco Marriott hotels march demanding better pay and job protections.
5 September – Unions start scheduling strike authorization votes at Marriott hotels in major markets, including: Honolulu; Maui, Hawaii; San Francisco; Boston; Seattle; Oakland, California; San Jose, California; Detroit; and San Diego.
7 September – Employees at 25 Chicago hotels—including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt Hotels Corporation properties—walk out demanding year-round health care in the city’s first citywide hotel strike. The count would soon grow to 26 hotels with the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile joining the strike.
10 September – Marriott hotel employees in Hawaii authorize a strike.
11 September – Some hotel restaurants in Chicago are forced to temporarily close due to the widespread strike in the city.
13 September – Employees at Marriott hotels in Boston authorize a strike.
14 September – Workers at the Westin Seattle authorize a strike, but union leaders do not initiate a strike.
Employees at seven San Francisco Marriott hotels authorize a strike.
19 September – Workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp authorize a strike.
20 September – The union representing the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit authorize a strike.
21 September – Employees at seven Marriott properties in Chicago are given a new deal, bringing down the count of hotels with strikes in the city to 19.
30 September – More deals continue to filter across Chicago, including agreements with workers at four Hilton properties—Palmer House Hilton, The Drake, the Hilton Chicago and the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile. Hyatt officials ask for a federal mediator to spur progress in their negotiations.
3 October – A strike is called at Marriott hotels in Boston, affecting more than 1,500 employees.
4 October – Marriott employees in San Francisco begin their strike. The strike hits at a point when the city has a stuffed convention calendar. At least one event ends up moving to avoid the picket lines.
5 October – The Boston hotel strike suddenly becomes relevant in the sports world as the New York Yankees draw ire for crossing through the picket line at a Ritz-Carlton property in downtown Boston.
7 October – The strike begins in Detroit.
Just two properties have ongoing strikes in Chicago—the Cambria Magnificent Mile and the Kinzie Hotel—after Unite Here officials announce a new wave of deals, including at Hyatt and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts properties. A handful of hotels still have strike authorizations that have not been called, though, including the Fairmont Chicago.
12 October – Workers in Boston say anxiety over technology and job security are a big driver for their ongoing strike.
25 October – The California Labor Commission opens an investigation into treatment of temporary workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp, where a strike is ongoing.
1 November – San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors looks to intervene in the ongoing strike in the city, holding a special hearing.
Marriott CEO and President Arne Sorenson, who has largely remained quiet through the strikes, sends a letter to the board.
“The union has attempted to portray Marriott as a company that has both disregarded its bargaining obligations and denied its employees fair wages and benefits,” he wrote. “That could not be further from the truth.”
2 November – The strike ends in Oakland, but continues across other portions of the Bay Area.
Union officials claim the strike at the Westin Book Cadillac has had a devastating effect on the property’s performance.
3 November – Workers at the Westin Book Cadillac reach a deal and end their strike.
7 November – Chicago hotels post strong performance numbers in the third quarter despite the widespread strike.
8 November – The Cambria Magnificent Mile’s strike continues as the lone holdover from the city’s earlier wave of hotel strikes.
Officials with DiamondRock Hospitality say a lingering strike in Boston could negatively impact earnings.
9 November – Union demonstrators in Boston draw noise complaints from nearby residents.
10 November – The strike ends in San Jose, but continues in San Francisco.
11 November – Workers at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp approve a deal and end their 35-day strike.
14 November – A North Carolina couple planning to honeymoon in Hawaii file a class-action lawsuit related to the ongoing strike in Honolulu. Demonstrators there hold loud protests ahead of negotiations.
18 November – A 45-day strike for Marriott employees in Boston ends with housekeepers getting a roughly $5 hourly increase and all employees getting paid paternity leave.
27 November – The Honolulu strike ends after 51 days as workers and ownership group Kyo-ya agree to a four-year deal with pay and benefit increases that average $6.13 an hour over the course of the pact.
28 November – Employees at the newly unionized Chicago Marriott at Medical District/UIC call a one-day strike, claiming Marriott has been unwilling to bargain with the union.
29 November – The strike at the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile continues, as union representatives say there is an impasse around health benefits and working conditions for housekeepers.
30 November – With union deals expiring at “at least 20” hotels, Los Angeles could be the next market to face widespread hotel strikes, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Law. Tentative votes for strike authorizations are planned for early December.
The analysis also revealed 2018 had 20 work stoppages for the industry—“the most on record for decades.”
3 December – The last of the widespread strikes involving Marriott-affiliated hotels ends in San Francisco after nearly two months. The deal includes employee protections against sexual harassment and $4-per-hour wage increases over the life of the deal.
5 December – Workers at the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport avoid calling a strike despite having authorized one after reaching a deal which union officials say “helps make working conditions safer and includes raises, health care and benefits” improvements.
10 December – Workers at two dozen hotels in the Los Angeles area authorized strikes as negotiations ramp up between ownership groups and Unite Here Local 11. Union officials said 96% of workers voted in favor of authorizing a strike. Many of the hotels fall under Marriott and Hilton brands and had their previous deal expire on 30 November.
12 December – About 800 workers in LA demonstrate outside of five hotels, including hotels in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Anaheim.
19 December – Well after the rest of Chicago’s citywide hotel strike wrapped up, the strike at the Cambria Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile continued, with union officials saying housekeeping workload issues are the primary sticking point.
21 December – Nine hotels in LA reach deals with their unions, avoiding a possible strike, but negotiations remain unsettled at 15 more in LA and Orange counties, including the Beverly Wilshire.