Sunday, June 16, 2024

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Harvard students and DoubleTree hotel workers cheer

Harvard students and DoubleTree hotel workers cheer a unionization win this weekend. (Photo: Unite Here Local 26)

Workers at the Harvard-owned DoubleTree Suites said Saturday that they have won the right to unionize, ending a more than two-year public fight and boycott.

With the September unionization agreement at Le Méridien Hotel in University Park, near Central Square, and the settlement at the Hyatt hotels last year, the hospitality industry seems at peace in Cambridge.

“At least Local 26 has no open campaign,” said Tiffany Ten Eyck, a spokeswoman for Local 26 of the Unite Here union. “We currently have fights in other hotels in Boston, but at least in Cambridge we have peace.”

“We had a lot of support from councillors and the city,” she said.

The Le Méridien Hotel issue arose in October 2012, bringing a boycott by workers amid accusations they endured “crushing workloads” since staff cutbacks and that HEI, the owners, had rejected their calls to discuss unionization. But the owners agreed to a union process in December 2013; in the spring an independent arbitrator certified that a majority of workers wanted a union; and their first union contract was ratified Sept. 12.

The Hyatt case dates back to 2009, when the mass firing of longtime staff and resulting outsourcing of housekeeping brought boycotts and other protests to three company hotels – two in Boston and the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. While the Hyatt staff didn’t join Unite Here, Local 26 did help them with the eventual settlement, also in September: $1 million for the fired staff and preferential hiring at other Hyatt hotels, Ten Eyck said.

The DoubleTree hotel – called DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Boston-Cambridge – is in Allston, but became a student cause at Harvard because of its university ownership.

Housekeepers struck the hotel Nov. 20, called by Local 26 the first strike of hotel workers in Boston in more than a century, and students and supporters at Harvard signed and delivered more than 3,000 cards of support to university administration, Ten Eyck said.

“It is inspiring to see that when workers and students come together, real change can be made,” Harvard freshman Angela Leocata said in a press release. “The DoubleTree workers winning a union proves the power of collective action and the promise of student-worker solidarity.”

Workers will now sit down to bargain their first contract, the union said.