Labor organizers say they’re ramping up the protest against the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Anchorage, where workers have been in contentious contract negotiations with the Texas-based company since 2009.
About 150 people gathered in the rain and held signs reading “Boycott Sheraton” and “Protect Good Anchorage Jobs.” Employees were joined by union members from across the city.
“If we don’t get a contract,” sang a rally organizer from a bullhorn.
The crowd followed behind and responded, “You don’t get no peace!”
Workers at the Sheraton haven’t received a pay increase in six years because of failed negotiations with the hotel management. Their union, Local 878, filed more than 30 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the hotel operator, Remington Lodging & Hospitality. The Board ruled in favor of the union for many of the complaints saying the hotel illegally interrogated some workers, tried to coerce them to leave the union, and illegally fired others.
Local 878 president Marvin Jones says even though judges supported the workers, the employer is still filing appeals. ”And so we can’t win this fight in court. We’re not going to win this fight in court. We’re going to win this fight by the community supporting Anchorage workers.”
Gina Tubman is a server at the Sheraton and attended the rally. She was emotional when she discussed being illegally fired for passing out flyers about the boycott in 2010.
“It was very hard because that was my only job,” she said, her voice catching.
Tubman returned to the Sheraton after a court order required the hotel to rehire her. She says she went back because after working there for 13 years, her co-workers were her family. But she says it’s scary.
“It kind of, like, put me in an uncomfortable position, knowing that what they did to me after being loyal to them for many, many years, and it could happen again. So, it’s hard.”
Management at the Anchorage Sheraton declined to comment. Their parent company, Remington Hospitality, did not respond to requests for comment either.