Marriott International is the biggest hotel chain in the world, with around 6,700 franchised hotels operating under 30 brand names in 130 countries. In 2017, Marriott raked in net profits of $1.37bn.
These glittering rewards are not however reflected in the pay and working conditions of the housekeepers, catering workers, dishwashers, janitors, doormen and bar staff who keep the hotels running.
Workloads are excessive, with staff running around trying to deep-clean rooms in double-quick time. Meanwhile, the job-security of in-house staff is undermined by outsourcing: for example, the contracting out of food preparation.
However, whilst Marriott International profits from the giant web of exploitation it has spun, workers are now learning to use that same web to spread the example of resistance.
So it was that in October the cooks, the concierges, the housekeepers and all the other low-paid and semi-invisible staff on whose labour the Marriott empire relies upped and walked out on the job. The walk-out spread to 23 Marriott-operated hotels in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Honolulu and Lahaina, Maui.
As many as 7,700 workers joined the walk-out. One disgruntled guest complained to the New York Times that she was woken at seven every morning by the noise of megaphones on the picket line, with workers telling guests: “Don’t check in, you need to check out”!