“I think it’s great.”
“Is this something to do with those women protesting?”
“They are completely different from us.”
These were three comments from workers and young people about the Marriott strike in Oakland as they watched the rally for striking Marriott Hotel workers. The comments show both the potential of this strike, but also a key weakness of the labor movement. The first was from a young woman (late teens or early 20s) standing at a bus stop across the street from the Marriott. She works as a bank teller nearby. She agreed that tellers need to go on strike for a union!
The second was from a young man hanging around downtown Oakland, as a lot of young people do. He was mainly curious (and I think a little surprised that somebody would be interested in what he thinks). The main thing, though, was that he made the connection between workers going on strike and an oppressed group (women) fighting for their rights.
And, last but not least, was a laborer (union) at a construction site across the street from the Marriott. He wasn’t hostile at all. He agreed in the abstract about supporting these strikers. But as a construction worker, he simply didn’t see the connection. (More below on this.)
According to several of the strikers, one of the main issues in the strike is the fact that Marriott wants to up their health insurance co-pay by nearly $300/month. That is a major pay cut for workers who already aren’t making much money!
Presently, Marriott workers are on strike at a number of cities around the country. Here’s some steps that could be taken to bring the strike to a speedy and successful conclusion:
- Make this strike the first step in a movement that will appeal to and draw in all workers by widening the demands to include an immediate $5/hour pay increase for all and for fully paid health benefits for all.
- For mass pickets at all struck hotels! Make a concentrated effort to bring out the rest of the labor movement, not
just the “activists” and officers, but the tens of thousands of rank and file workers.
- Don’t just picket blank walls; picket directly in front of the doorways and driveways.
- Follow the example of “Occupy”: mass protests in the streets to disrupt business as usual in general.
- Build direct links internationally to organize protests and union organizing at Marriott’s around the world.