The Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, the site of this year’s American Sociological Association’s meeting is a non-union hotel that is currently in the middle of an organizing campaign. We wish to support workers and to advocate on their behalf. Below, you will find an email from Emiliano, one of the local organizers explaining everyday actions you can take to support Marriott workers. Please make sure to pick up a UNITE-HERE button when you register and wear it throughout the conference.
Second, join us in an action on Monday, August 13th at 12:30 at the Northwest corner of City Hall (a block from the convention center). We will meet with workers, put on buttons and take action with them. For those who can commit to joining now, please RSVP here. However, feel free to just meet us on Monday. If you are attending the ASA Labor and Labor Movements Business meeting, we will leave.
We are also currently working with members of UNITE-HERE to have workers present at the Joint Labor & Labor Movement / Marxist Section Reception at 7pm at the International House. Thank you to our members who worked with local organizers to make this action happen. I encourage you to forward this message to other interested parties.
Belinda Lum, PhD
Chair-Elect, ASA Section on Labor and Labor Movements.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My name is Emiliano Rodriguez. I'm an organizer with UNITE HERE Local 274 and work on the team that is organizing for a fair process to organize a union at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. On behalf of our local and our members, welcome to Philadelphia. On April 4th, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., workers at the host hotel of your convention went public with their demand for a fair process to organize their union at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the country. African Americans make up 42% of the population of the city of Brotherly Love. Your meeting is being held at the largest hotel in the state of Pennsylvania. The tourism industry is booming, but many in the industry work and live in poverty. UNITE HERE Local 274 is committed to fighting for racial and economic justice in our city. We believe that by organizing the hospitality industry in the city of Philadelphia, we can make great strides in the reduction of poverty in our city. Nationally, our union is also organizing Marriott workers all across the country. Marriott is the largest hotel employer in the world, and we believe as a union that one job should be enough.
I wanted to write with some guidance on how we can work together as you stay in Philadelphia to support from and learn from the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown workers. please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions (267-776-5653). The workers at this hotel have not called for a boycott and there are no planned pickets while you are staying at the hotel. You should continue to patronize the Marriott as planned. As a guest, here are a few ways we think you can support these workers:
1. Wear a union button in solidarity with the workers. ASA has committed to make them available at the registration table but contact me if you need more.
2. Talk to the workers, learn about their lives, and tell them you support their efforts to fight for justice at work. If you are a union member yourself, share a story about why you are proud to be in union.
3. Get a group together and ask to speak with the general manager (Robert Allen) or head of human resources (Bruce Brobeck) and tell them you support the Philadelphia Marriott Workers demand for a fair process to organize a union. Some attendees will be meeting on Monday at 12:30 on the northeast corner of city hall (a block west of the Marriott Downtown) to meet with workers and coordinate a message to send to hotel management.
4. And finally, Don't forget to tip your housekeeper when you check out.
If you'd like to hear directly from members of the organizing committee, I would gladly arrange a speaker during your event. Please note that if such a meeting were to take place in the hotel, you'd need to ask the hotel for permission for a worker to speak otherwise we'd put them at unnecessary risk for termination. Any meetings in the convention center however have no such restriction. If enough people are interested, we'd also be glad to host a late happy hour on the opening night of the conference and bring some members of the organizing committee so you could hear from them directly.
Below, I've included links to press coverage over the last few months in case you're interested as well a report entitled Black Work Matters issued by POWER, an interfaith social justice organization, that expands on our vision for the city. Thanks again for all that you do.
Attachments to both:
WHYY: In the Spirit of King Hospitality Workers Continue to Press for Economic Justice
Philly.com: Marriott Housekeepers
Dissent: Belabored Podcast - the future of collective action (begin listening at minute 19 for Kat Payne, member of organizing committee)
Buzzfeed: Marriott workers protest for safer conditions