On Thursday, employees of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina, represented by hospitality union Unite Here Local 2850, held a picket line outside the hotel.
According to Unite Here organizer Ted Waechter, about 200 workers and supporters participated in the 6 a.m. picket line advocating for better working conditions and benefits. Waechter added this picket comes as union contract negotiations between the Berkeley Marina DoubleTree and Unite Here Local 2850 are ongoing.
“The DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina is one of the only hotels that hasn’t agreed to meet that same standard that other hotel workers in the East Bay have secured,” Waechter alleged.
He said that “virtually every other union hotel” in the East Bay has agreed to the union’s deal, but Berkeley Marina DoubleTree has not.
He added that workers at the hotel are still making minimum wage.
Additionally, Waechter said the hotel’s health care proposal would have new hires at the hotel pay more out-of-pocket costs for their premiums.
According to Waechter, another motivation for the picket is the increasing difficulty of the work for those who have managed to hold onto their job.
Citing a UCSF study, Waechter pointed out that line cooks are the most likely to die from COVID-19 out of any other occupation, adding that hospitality workers have undertaken “extraordinary risks” to their health by working during the pandemic.
He also noted how workers who were furloughed were left without health insurance amid the pandemic.
“We are focused on raising wages, securing affordable health care and also making sure that workloads and staffing levels are fair,” Waechter said.
Waechter also alleged that the hotel has reduced staffing levels and increased workloads for the remaining workers.
This leads to negative interactions between guests and housekeepers as they expect certain services, but don’t end up getting them, Waechter added.
Workers are going to continue fighting for better treatment until they secure a contract with the hotel that they are satisfied with, Waechter said.
“What we’re trying to do is protect good jobs, protect workloads, but also make sure that the hotel industry doesn’t go the way of the airline industry in dramatically scaling back services that guests expected,” Waechter said.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina said it is currently negotiating a new contract with the union and hopes to reach an agreement soon.