Hotel strike grows on fifth day, workers demand living wage

- Nicholas Javier is just one of nearly 3,000 Bay Area Marriott employees on the picket lines in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Union workers say the current wages that the hotel chain pays is not enough to live on.  

"I'm one rent payment from the street and for me and so many of my co-workers it's normal," says Javier, a Marriott service industry worker.  

"I have an apartment that I cannot afford to pay by myself anymore. I had to bring in my son, his wife and their children in order to survive and live in this city," says Marriott Housekeeping Supervisor Candida Kaevorkian. 

She says she had to give up her privacy to keep her two-bedroom apartment in South San Francisco, which Kaevorkian says cost more than $2,600 a month.  Five people across three generations are now living there and it takes three jobs to pay their rent.

"One job should be enough to pay your bills, pay the rent and put food on the table," says Kaevorkian.    And for Javier, the living situation isn't much better.  "I'm paying a lot of money for a room with no kitchen no bathroom and bedbug season and mice and things like that," says Javier. 

Organizers say having workers in Hawaii joining the picket line is reassuring and powerful.  Union reps say they now have nearly 8,000 people strong in the U.S. asking for better wages, a safer workplace and job security from their employer, Marriott. 

The company's statement hasn't changed since the strike started, saying "We are disappointed that Unite Here! has chosen to resort to a strike at this time. During the strike our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests. While we respect our associates' rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work."  

"How are you supposed to take care of your kids? How are you supposed to have dreams? How are you supposed to get another degree, maybe change your industry? How are you supposed to do that if you're working 60-70 hours per week just to get by?" says Javier.   

There are more than 20 hotels involved in the strikes.  The cities include Maui and Honolulu, Boston, San Diego, Detroit and the three Bay Area cites. The word from union representatives Marriott employees in Seattle have also been given the green light to strike.  Those workers could hit the picket line any day now.

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