Westin Book Cadillac workers vote to strike

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Unite Here Local 24 fight for better pay and job security during their strike against Marriott.

Detroit — Detroit hotel workers overwhelmingly voted on Monday to authorize a strike against Marriott.

Hotel housekeepers, servers, cooks and doormen at the Marriott-operated Westin Book Cadillac on Washington Boulevard have voted to authorize a walkout strike to begin at any time, union organizers said. 

Members of the Unite Here Local 24 voted 98 percent in favor of striking and joined 8,500 Marriott workers who also voted to strike across the country. Officials said Detroit is the seventh major location in the United States to take a strike vote against Marriott in the last 10 days. 

Contracts between Local 24 and the Westin Book Cadillac expired on June 30 and union representatives said they are tired of the pace of negotiations. The Westin has 453 guest rooms; rooms are about $340 a night for a standard room, according to its website.

"Months of excruciatingly slow negotiations with the Marriott-operated Westin Book Cadillac have gotten us only insulting and disrespectful proposals," said Nia Winston, Unite Here Local 24 President, in a press release. "Now is the time to move forward towards economic fairness, real job security, and respect on the job."

Unite Here said what Marriott is offering is "economically insulting." In some instances, workers haven't seen more than a 70 cent raise is 10 years. Workers say they are fighting to make sure that one full-time job at Marriott is enough to pay the bills, live in the city and raise a family, a Unite Here spokeswoman said. They are also fighting for job security, and workload and workplace safety.

Marriott officials said through many years of working with Unite Here, they've always taken the negotiation process seriously and reached agreements. 

"We have no reason to believe that this negotiation process will be any different," Marriott said in a statement on Wednesday. "We respect the right of our associates to voice their opinions on issues that are important to them. Should the union and our employees choose to strike, our hotels will continue to operate and work to minimize any disruption and to provide the excellent service that our guest have come to expect."

Yolanda Murray, a lead steward at the Westin Book Cadillac, said with more traffic heading downtown, workers should see an increase in compensation. 

“We’re bringing back Detroit. Being able to go downtown, to shop, eat and walk around,” said Murray. “We’ve got all these companies coming back downtown. It’s a beautiful thing we’re doing. Don’t shortchange the people making it happen.”


Twitter: @SarahRahal_