Striking Marriott hotel workers ratify new contract in overwhelming vote

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Following a 61-day strike, workers from Unite Here Local 2 union have voted to ratify their new contract after a tentative agreement between Marriott hotels and its San Francisco workers was reached Monday morning. 

The vote that puts nearly 2,500 workers back to work as early as Wednesday was 99.6 percent in favor of the contract, according to union representatives. 

The two-month union strike began in early October to demand higher pay, more job security and smaller workloads. San Francisco workers held out longer than their counterparts, striking even after workers in other cities settled.

The tentative agreement was voted on Monday as workers gathered at the Parc 55 hotel. The new contract includes wage increases, secure health benefits and job security.

Under the new contract, housekeepers will be paid $1.76 an hour more, retroactive to August, when their previous contract expired. At the end of their four-year contract in 2022, their hourly wage will go from $23 an hour to more than $27 an hour. 

Union leaders said the extraordinarily high cost of living in San Francisco prolonged the strike here.

"The contract is really incredible. We're very pleased with the contract we were able to get to in San Francisco," said Rachel Gumpert from Unite Here.

Union leaders say this new contract also includes new protections for female workers who have been victims of sexual harassment providing workers with safety buttons they can use if they're harassed by guests.

"We agreed with language with Marriott that would remove guests who violate our workers from the hotel mid-stay and block them from returning for three years," said Gumpert.

Union officials said workers will not have to pay more for healthcare and housekeepers will have more time to clean rooms when guests opt not to have the daily service.

In addition, the contract states cuts in employee hours or job loss due to automation will require six-month's notice. 

The details of the agreement should run through 2022. 

"This hard-fought contract sets a new and transformative standard for San Francisco's hotel industry," Unite Here Local 2 president Anand Singh said in a news release. "During more than two months on strike, hotel workers' resolve never wavered, and neither did the support and solidarity of our community."

Singh said contract negotiations will soon begin for more than 5,500 workers at other hotel companies in San Francisco who have been without a contract since mid-August. Hotel union leaders say this new contract is historic, a new benchmark they will use in negotiating with other hotels in the city going forward.

Larrilu Carumba has worked in housekeeping for six years but had to take a second job in a laundromat to make ends meet. A single mom of three that second job meant she was getting home after her children were already asleep.

This new contract, she says, will change her life. "I will only have one job and I can eliminate my job, and I can have time for my kids and for myself," said Carumba.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a statement about the agreement Monday morning.

"In this time of rising inequality, it is crucial that our workers are able to earn a fair wage that allows them to live and support their families in the increasingly expensive Bay Area," Breed said. "I am proud to have supported the workers as they fought for better wages, health care and job security."

A Marriott International spokesperson confirmed that a tentative agreement has been reached and said, "We look forward to welcoming our associates back to work."

"We're happy to be settled here before the holidays before Christmas. We're very proud of what we've done here," Singh said. 

KTVU's Amber Lee and Christien Kafton contributed to this report.