Meridien Hotel workers join union; Lesley U signs contract

by Lisa Clauson, UNITE HERE

SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2014— Earlier this month, Le Meridien Cambridge workers joined UNITE HERE Local 26. After nearly two years of weekly picket lines, a boycott and the support of the broader community, 75 workers are thrilled to have a voice and respect on the job.

(LeMeridien Cambridge is located in MIT’s University Park, near Central Square. Because they are typically paid minimal wages, hotel workers are often able to live near their work only if they have Section 8 vouchers or public housing.) 

Lesley workers ratify first contract

Meanwhile, one year after organizing into Local 26, 70 food service workers at Lesley University have ratified their first union contract. The Bon Appetit servers, dishwashers, cooks and cashiers at Lesley are the latest in a wave of 800 campus food service workers who have joined UNITE HERE Local 26.

"I love cooking for students, and I’m proud to be part of a community that makes the world a better place”, says Randy Wright, a cook at Lesley University. “Our community of support—students, professors, pastors, city councilors—gave us the confidence to speak out and say ‘we deserve better’! It’s not easy to change your life, but that’s why we organized into Local 26. No one should go it alone.”

“I’ve worked two and three jobs but have still worried about losing my home. This contract will give me space to plan for the future” says Radames Moran, a cook at the University.

Under the contract, employee health insurance premiums will be cut in half.  

For Roderick Reynolds, who has five children, this is a game-changer: “With the new Union Health Plan I will save hundreds of dollars a month — money that can now go to my kids’ education.” 

The new agreement contains both earned and accrued sick days. “As a mother, I’ve been forced to make impossible choices—care for my sick child or get a paycheck” says Ana Marte, a cashier. “With paid sick leave, I have the freedom I need to be a mom.”

Thank you Cambridge City Council and Representative Marjorie Decker for your strong support of these workers and their campaigns to win voices and dignity at work. Thank you to the many community, faith and labor allies who marched and supported these workers in their fights for justice. Many of you joined us multiple times in the cold, snow and rain, thank you for your solidarity.