Unite Here! Marches on the Sheraton Hotel – Ron Kipling Williams

Unite Here! Marches on the Sheraton Hotel – Ron Kipling Williams

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image from Baltimore IMC

According to organizers, negotiations broke down with Columbia Sussex owner Bill Yung, resulting in the enacting of policies that have been detrimental to workers - such as the removal of seniority and the increase in health costs.

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Braving the frigid wind-chill temperatures on Tuesday, November 18th, Unite Here! protesters and allies assembled at War Memorial Plaza to rally around the boycott of the Sheraton City Center Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

Dressed in Red Unite Here! knit hats, scarves, and head bands, protesters and union organizers represented cities such as Anchorage, AK, Las Vegas, NV, Sacramento, CA, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD.

The visiting Unite Here! members came to stand in solidarity with Baltimore to demand a contract from Columbia Sussex, which has refused to do so since April, 2006.

“We have the same struggle,” said Daniel Esparza, one of the Anchorage Hilton Hotel organizers who are negotiating with Columbia Sussex to improve fair contractual treatment for their workers.

According to organizers, negotiations broke down with Columbia Sussex owner Bill Yung, resulting in the enacting of policies that have been detrimental to workers - such as the removal of seniority and the increase in health costs.

“It was their way or the highway,” said Darlene Harrison, a housekeeper who has worked at the Sheraton for 16 years.

From the plaza they marched west along Fayette Street, then marched around the Sheraton Hotel.

They were armed with Unite Here! signs and shouted several slogans: “Don’t Check In, Check Out!” and “You Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back!”

There was a mix of rush-hour pedestrians, hotel check-ins, as well as passing vehicles with horns honking in solidarity with the protesters who pounded buckets and shouted through bullhorns. There was even an accordion player.

A retired senior delegation of Unite Here! members from Philadelphia was among the marchers. “We believe in right,” said 70-year old Joan Cousins. “We have to help people get on their feet.”

When asked how they were holding up in the cold, Cousins responded, “It’s freezing but it’s worth it.”

“Unite Here!, you are the worker warriors,” said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) who spoke during the rally’s conclusion.

Protesters ended the evening’s activities with the chant, “We will be back!”

For more coverage see Baltimore Indy Media:
http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/18141/index.php