Workers at Battery Wharf Hotel went on strike Thursday at the waterfront property in Boston’s North End. Represented by the Local 26 union, approximately 80 strikers walked off the job as negotiations broke down with the hotel, now owned by Canadian operator Westmont Hospitality. The jobs at stake include room attendants, bellmen, cooks, dishwashers and front desk agents.
Union leaders said in a statement that the hotel wants to “eliminate contract language ensuring the right to a fair schedule, job security, affordable family healthcare, yearly wage increases, and a pension.”
Flyers were being distributed to arriving hotel guests saying that Battery Wharf Hotel adds a “local fee” on their bills that looks like but is not a government fee or tax. The handout included a link to batterywharfisbad.org and asked guests to give negative reviews on TripAdvisor.
In addition to disrupting operations, the striking workers are looking for local officials to support them in their fight against the hotel. When we stopped by on Thursday afternoon, District 8 candidate Kenzie Bok was on site speaking to the group. “After the positive Marriott agreement, all hotel companies in Boston need to know they cannot ‘opt-out’ of paying fair wages and benefits,” said Bok. “These are middle-class jobs held by a diverse group of workers who deserve the same protections.”
Marriott workers went on strike last year at downtown hotels including the Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin Boston Waterfront and W Hotel. After more than a month after workers walked out, the parties agreed to a settlement largely hailed by labor leaders as a victory in significantly raising the bar for worker protections.
Negotiations between the union and Battery Wharf Hotel have been going on for over a year. In addition to wages and benefits, Local 26 said the hotel has not agreed to contract language protecting women from sexual harassment and assault or protecting immigrants. In addition, “they refuse to keep language that seeks to correct the historical discrimination of African-American workers in the hotel industry, established in 2006,” said the union.
“The Battery Wharf Hotel thinks it doesn’t need to give protections to women, immigrants and African-Americans. The hotel thinks it can get around providing good jobs in Boston. When we said one job should be enough for every hotel worker in Boston, we meant it,” said Brian Lang, the President of UNITE HERE Local 26.
Security and non-union workers were on site and the hotel appeared to be open for business. Inquiries resulted in “no comment” from site management on the strike.
Battery Wharf Hotel encompasses the bottom three floors of four buildings on the Battery Wharf piers. The top three floors of the buildings are condominiums. One resident coming home said, “I know and support the workers. They deserve a good contract. Though, the picket line and noise is a pain.”