DoubleTree Hotel Workers Approve Unionization

Following a campaign of more than two years that included demonstrations, a strike, and a boycott, workers at the Soldiers Field Road DoubleTree Hotel, a Hilton Hotels enterprise housed in a building owned by Harvard, have organized with the UNITE HERE! Local 26 union, according to workers and union representatives.

On Friday, an arbitrator verified with both union and hotel management that a majority of the hotel’s workers had voted in favor of unionization, according to Local 26 president Brian Lang.

Spokespeople for Hilton Hotels and Resorts did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend. Jeff Neal, a Harvard spokesperson, wrote that the University is “pleased that the two parties have agreed to a process that will determine the issue of unionization at the DoubleTree Hotel.”

Lang praised the outcome.

“Because of the courage of the workers, going on strike back in November, calling a boycott of their own hotel, with constant vigilance, they won,” he said.

The organization comes more than two years after DoubleTree workers petitioned hotel management in March of 2013 for the right to vote on unionization through a fair process vote, which the workers argued was more conducive to their work schedules.

Local 26 also represents Harvard dining hall workers, as well as Boston-area hotel staff.

“Our expectation is that the workers at the Harvard’s DoubleTree Hotel will get the same wage, benefits, and work-rules standard as every other hotel worker in our union,” Lang said.

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, Double Tree housekeepers, student advocates, and union representatives protested working conditions at the hotel.

Members of Local 26 and workers officially announced that they had successfully unionized on Saturday evening in the Lowell House Junior Common Room. Among the crowd who gathered for the announcement were members of Harvard's Student Labor Action Movement, which has organized numerous protests and demonstrations in support of the unionization movement since its outset.

“It’s been our role as students with a fair amount of privilege and security to call out Harvard and remind the university that they are ultimately responsible for what goes on at the hotel,” said Nina R. Wagner ’18, a member of SLAM who has been active in the DoubleTree movements and helped to organize a November protest that drew hundreds of demonstrators. “We’ve been helping them strengthen their voices in terms of asking for a union.”

Workers at the event said inclusion in the union would have a positive impact on their work environment.

“I feel amazing and everyone feels like we really got this done,” said Delmy A. Lemus, a DoubleTree worker. “We are finally going to get respect and be treated like humans at work.”

“Today is the most important day, after two years of working, because now we know we have more respect, we can talk to the managers,” said Victor Bernabe, who has worked at the DoubleTree for 11 years.

—Staff writer William C. Skinner can be reached at wskinner@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @wskinner.

—Staff writer Emma K. Talkoff can be reached at emmatalkoff@college.harvard.edu.

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