NEW YORK CITY – As workers at Marriott hotels across the country continue to strike over pay and working conditions, a new report by Demos reveals how Marriott International is holding down workers’ pay, cutting hours and promoting high fee loans through its affiliated financial institution. Demos is a public policy organization that fights for racial and economic equity. The report by Amy Traub, associate director of policy and research for Demos, shows how the world’s largest hotel company and its affiliated credit union are dramatically increasing wealth disparities between its mostly black and Latino workforce and its overwhelmingly white corporate leadership.
“Marriott claims to value diversity and inclusion. Yet the corporate leaders who could make this large and profitable company into a powerful force for racial equity have instead chosen policies that reinforce growing inequality,” said Traub.
Demos’ report describes the scope of the nation’s racial wealth inequality and its origins in public policy and corporate practices, then shows how Marriott and its affiliated credit union are reinforcing this divide. Fluctuating hours and unpredictable paychecks destabilize the predominantly black and Latino workforce – employees who cook and serve food, staff front desks, help guests with luggage and do the other work that has enabled Marriott to become a multi-billion-dollar corporation.
The Marriott Employees Federal Credit Union, a financial institution led by Marriott International executives, also strips wealth from employees through high-interest mini loans (the equivalent of an in-house payday lender). The same employee credit union offers an advantageous home mortgage loan that disproportionately serves higher-income, white employees. This fuels racial wealth disparities by transferring wealth away from working people of color.
“Marriott employees deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. As a multi-billion-dollar company built on the backs of these hardworking men and women, Marriott must be held accountable and pay them fair wages and provide stable hours. Its credit union should provide sustainable opportunities to build savings, not strip wealth away through high-fee lending. We are calling on Marriott to reform its corporate practices so that it can live up to the values of diversity and inclusion it claims to support,” concluded Traub.