Nearly 2,500 hotel workers are picketing in downtown San Francisco after months of failed negotiations for higher wages. Those strikers include restaurant workers at seven Marriott hotels: the Palace Hotel, the W, Marriott Union Square, the Westin St. Francis Union Square, Marriott Marquis, Courtyard San Francisco Downtown, and the St. Regis.
Some of the affected restaurants include the View Lounge at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis and Pied Piper at the Palace Hotel. While they might be short-staffed, however, the hotels — and the restaurants — will all remain open during the strike. According to Local 2 (the local chapter of the Unite Here hospitality workers union), this is the biggest hotel workers’ strike in the city in decades. It comes at a time when San Francisco is experiencing a massive labor shortage, as restaurant workers flock to more affordable cities.
On the streets in San Francisco, workers held up signs saying, “One job should be enough.” They want fair wages, better health care, safe work environments, and job security.
Nicholas Javier, a server at the Oak Room at the St. Francis, says he’s on strike because he feels that Marriott hasn’t taken workers’ needs seriously.
“It’s a thing for so many workers now to string together two or three different jobs to pay the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco,” says Javier, who only works at Oak Room. “I’m lucky, I have the union, but for so many of my fellow servers in the industry, that’s a unicorn.”
At the same time, Javier doesn’t feel financially stable with his one restaurant job. “I’m one rent payment away from the street essentially. That’s where I’m at,” he says.
Javier describes a workplace where seemingly “arbitrary” decisions — such as cutting a full shift across the board — fall down and rock the lives of restaurant workers with no warning. “We’re just supposed to accept a low standard because that’s what’s normal,” he says.
In response, the Marriott issued a statement: “We are disappointed that Unite Here has chosen to resort to a strike at this time. During the strike our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests.”
As of now, there is no scheduled end to the strike, which could very well continue on for days.