On March 25th, hotel workers told Columbia Sussex Corporation that they are tired of paying for the company’s debt and want a fair process to organize a union at rallies around the country. Hotel workers called on customers to boycott 8 hotels owned by the company, according to UNITE HERE, the hotel workers union.
In Washington, DC, hotel workers and community supporters rallied outside the Westin City Center. "All workers must have the right to organize," declared DC City Councilmember Phil Mendelson, who then led a chant of "Boycott! Boycott!" at the Thursday demonstration. "A decent hotel must treat its workers decently," Mendelson said, promising to carry the protestors’ message "back to my Council colleagues for more support." Sheraton City Center banquet server Karl Taylor was one of a busload of Baltimore hotel workers who made the trip "to support our brothers and sisters" at the Westin in DC. Columbia-Sussex owns both hotels, as well as others in Chicago and San Diego, where the boycott was also launched. “The union gives us a voice," Taylor said as more than 100 picketers chanted "Don’t check in, check out" behind him. "
Columbia Sussex hotels in Northern Virginia, Sacramento and Alaska are already being boycotted. While Taylor and his fellow-workers in Baltimore already have a union, he said they support the Westin workers "who have been slammed with cuts and increased workloads" and want to form a union.
After hotel workers from Baltimore and Northern Virginia declared their support for the Westin workers, Metro Labor Council President Jos Williams wrapped up the rally by saying "This is a union city; if you’re non-union we have no place for you in the nation’s capital." Adding that Columbia-Sussex "now has a tri-state fight on their hands" Williams vowed that the metro-area labor movement would "stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as long as it takes!"
– Credits: Chris Garlock; photos by Adam Wright, Metro Washington Council’s Union City!