Over three hundred workers at the Le Meridien and Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf have been struggling for years for a simple commitment from their hotels’ owner: that workers may decide for themselves, without fear of reprisal, whether to join a union. Organizing agreements like this are crucial for guaranteeing workers a voice on the job. Over the past twenty years, more than two thousand hotel workers have organized into UNITE HERE Local 2 in this manner.
Behind the brand names, Le Meridien and Hyatt are owned by a little-known real estate corporation, Chesapeake Lodging Trust. Chesapeake is a multi-billion dollar real estate investment trust – and like most real estate corporations, Chesapeake’s interest in these hotels is fleeting. While many workers have devoted decades to serving guests of these hotels, owners come and go. And despite repeated efforts by workers to confront the company, Chesapeake has refused to honor workers’ demands for a fair organizing process.
As a result, a majority of workers have signed petitions calling on customers to boycott these hotels. Even though this means less work and smaller paychecks, the workers’ boycott call is founded on the belief that winning respect and a voice is essential to securing the kinds of jobs we need in the service industry. Their boycott call has been endorsed by a wide cross-section of San Francisco community organizations, elected leaders, and the city government itself.