The march and rally followed the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual Labor Day Breakfast at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston, where Vice President Kamala Harris addressed a room of ball packed with about 1,000 people and touted the Biden administration’s support for workers.
Rain began to fall as the marchers left the corner of Arlington and Boylston streets near the public garden towards the Hyatt Centric, but it did not dampen the spirits of participants, many of whom were wearing transparent plastic ponchos distributed by the organizers.
Devonshire Street was packed with members of Local 26 and SEIU 32BJ, a union representing service workers in several northeastern states, as union leaders and elected officials took turns speaking into a microphone, a few just yards from the Hyatt’s front doors.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston ignited the crowd with chants of “The people, united, will never be defeated!” and recalls her six years working in a hotel and feeling looked down upon by the customers she served.
“As a black woman who worked in the service industry, I know what it’s like when people look past you and through you like you’re invisible,” she told the crowd under a canopy. umbrellas held by people around him. “It’s because of this movement that they see us now and hear us now.”
Pressley’s words resonated with Hyatt Centric hospitality workers, who said they were trying to bump their pay a few dollars to be in line with similar union jobs at other hotels in the city. town.
“More than anything, what we want is for them to respect us,” Blanca Murcia, Revere resident and Hyatt Centric room attendant, told a Globe reporter, speaking Spanish through a translator.
Between 25 and 30 workers at the hotel are union members, according to Carlos Aramayo, president of Local 26. The group had picketed outside the hotel twice over the summer, he said. declared.
It’s hard to persuade people to come together to form a union, he said, and “it’s even harder to get a contract”.
Pressley’s turn on the mic followed remarks from Representatives Katherine Clark of Revere and Jake Auchincloss of Newton, who both praised the Biden administration’s work in supporting Labor and highlighted the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the president signed into law last year.
“There is no building of the economy and our infrastructure without organized labor,” Auchincloss said. “Today is about the dignity of work and ensuring everyone has the ability to participate in our economy.”
Roxana Rivera, executive vice president of SEIU 32BJ, said in a brief interview that the union is trying to organize workers at Logan International Airport, where airline Swissport International workers say wages are too low. and that the workers are too dispersed.
Gabriel Gomez works for Swissport as a cabin cleaner and said this summer has been particularly difficult with sweltering conditions inside planes and not enough time between tasks for a drink of water.
“They need to hire more workers,” Gomez said, speaking to a Globe reporter in Spanish through a translator. “They need to be a little more dedicated to protecting workers and making sure we can do our job properly.”
Messages sent to Hyatt and Swissport seeking comment were not returned.
Solidarity was the main theme on Monday, Rivera said, as service workers, including people who clean hotel rooms and airplanes, waiters and baristas, and State House assistants, gathered for the walk.
“It’s an important Labor Day message for workers to understand that they’re not alone no matter where they’re from or what they’re doing,” Rivera said. “We want to make sure they are seen today.”
U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey provided the rally’s coda by reflecting on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working communities.
“During the pandemic, Black and brown [people] in immigrant families, they had to show up every day because they were essential workers, [while] white collar workers ‘zoomed in’ to work,” Markey told the crowd. “Let’s make sure we get the rights that each of these workers is entitled to.”