Category: Boston Herald

Leaders call for ‘fair’ hotel strike settlement

Brooks Sutherland Tuesday, October 30, 2018

City leaders joined striking hotel workers  outside the Ritz-Carlton yesterday to urge Marriott to strike a “fair” settlement with its union employees.

Five city councilors and state Rep. Jay Livingstone hand-delivered a letter addressed to Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson that was signed by 30 local elected leaders. The letter, urging the CEO to reach a “fair compromise” with UNITE HERE Local 26 that would end the strike, read: “We write to express our concern with the ongoing strike of Marriott hotel workers in Boston and to voice support for our constituents’ desire to provide for themselves and their families with fair earnings and benefits from one job.”

“This is a matter of respect and dignity,” At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley told the Herald. “And the stabilization of their families. There’s nothing charitable about this, this is what they deserve.”

Pressley joined fellow councilors Michelle Wu, Tim McCarthy, Kim Janey and Ed Flynn. Dozens of striking workers marched up and down the front sidewalk of the hotel, banging on buckets, blowing whistles and chanting emphatically.

“We’re demanding that they end the strike and come back with a contract that works for these workers and their families,” Flynn said. “I think it’s very important to let our workers know that we’re here to make sure that we’ll always fight for them. To make sure they’re treated fairly.”

Mei Leung, a housekeeper at the Sheraton put on a poncho and spent the day fighting for what she says, “is the right thing to do.”

“We’ve been negotiating for a long time, and they don’t accept our requests,” she said. “I’m 71 years old and still have to work.”

Last week, Wu filed an ordinance that would attempt to give hourly workers more protection as it pertains to predictable, consistent scheduling, an issue raised throughout the strike.

“Overall, we are at a point in our country’s economy and politics, where more and more workers are part-time, without benefits, and trying to balance multiple jobs in order to make everything work,” Wu said. “And when you introduce the ability of corporations and companies to change schedules at the last second, that really throws everything up into the air.”

Marriott has said it does not conduct negotiations in the press.

Boston City Council votes in favor of changing ‘shadow’ law – Council backs shade

By Dan Atkinson Thursday, April 27, 2017

t’s not clear the City Council’s 10-3 vote to ask legislators to alter the state’s shadow law will receive a sunny reception on Beacon Hill.

The rep whose district includes the Boston Common said he is not backing the plan to allow the $1 billion redevelopment of the Winthrop Square garage to shade the park.

“I don’t support this as written, the balance of this bill is a negative on the Common,” said state Rep. Jay Livingstone, adding he would not sponsor the bill affecting his own backyard in order to bring it before the Legislature.

“The laws were put in place 27 years ago to prevent this and they’ve worked well,” Livingstone said. “A lot of people were reserving judgment until the City Council acted, but people I’ve talked to have similar concerns.”

 The plan, backed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Planning & Development Agency, would see Millennium Partners develop the site into offices and luxury units and pay the city $102 million up front and $50 million as units are sold.

Walsh has said he would use that money to pay for needed improvements to affordable housing projects, Franklin Park and the Common itself.

The council agreed yesterday to ask the Legislature to sign off on altering a state law meant to prevent shadows from large buildings casting shade on the Common. And other Boston legislators said they had not made up their minds about the project.

“This is a precedent that could be set, obviously that’s a concern — we need to protect the asset that is the park,” said state Sen. Joseph Boncore, whose district includes the Common. He said he was not supporting or opposing the plan yet.

After Walsh signs off, the pitch must be sponsored by a legislator for state officials to consider it. City officials said they were engaged in ongoing conversations about sponsorship.

But Joe Larkin, principal with Millennium Partners in Boston, said he believed the Legislature would ultimately vote in the project’s favor.

“When the process starts, the state legislators will hear that the city of Boston has spoken resoundingly to move this forward,” Larkin said. “When they understand the benefits and understand the impacts I hope the Legislature will do the same thing city officials have done.”

District 7 Councilor Tito Jackson, District 8 Councilor Josh Zakim and Council President Michelle Wu all voted against the plan, with Jackson and Zakim arguing it would throw too much of a shadow on the Common and set precedent for future developments. But other councilors said the plan’s benefits were too important to pass up.

“I will sell my soul if it helps poor families live in decent housing,” said District 1 Councilor Sal LaMattina, who voted yes. “I sold my soul but I will sleep better knowing people in my neighborhood and in South Boston and Chinatown can sleep in nice beds because of the deal we’re going to vote on today.”

State Sen. Will Brownsberger, whose district butts up against the Boston Public Garden, vowed nobody is going to “rubber stamp this bill, it needs careful study.”