ARIZONA NEWS

Final Four fan hotel workers walk out on game day to protest allegations of labor law violations

Apr 6, 2024, 6:00 PM

Workers at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix walked out on strike on Saturday. (Photo courtesy...

Workers at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix walked out on strike on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)

(Photo courtesy of Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)

PHOENIX — Workers at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix walked out on strike Saturday to protest alleged unlawful behavior by hotel management, the first day of games at the NCAA Tournament Final Four at State Farm Stadium.

The Sheraton is one of three Marriott hotels in Phoenix designated as a “host hotel” for when the city hosts the Final Four, joining the Renaissance and Westin hotels.

Picket lines formed at each hotel beginning Wednesday, as workers chanted in red shirts throughout the day. Workers also told the customers, including college basketball players and staff, to seek refunds from the hotel if the protests affected their stays.

Workers have accused hotel management of multiple labor violations, including improper interrogation and surveillance tactics, encroaching upon workers’ rights to participate in labor demonstrations.

All three of the Marriott hotels’ collective bargaining agreements expired last June, permitting workers to engage in picket lines, strikes and other labor demonstrations.

UNITE HERE Local 11 is the labor union that represents over 32,000 hospitality workers between Arizona and Southern California, including the Marriott workers.

“(We are) committed to our hardworking members benefitting from mega events, like the Final Four tournament in Phoenix,” the labor union said in a statement Thursday. “However, city leadership and groups, like the NCAA, need to recognize that the success of these events is made possible by hard working hospitality workers.

“These events have a tremendous impact on the region, but that impact must uplift workers, not just be built off their backs.”

The Final Four in the Valley goes beyond the semifinal games on Saturday and final matchup Monday. Festivities throughout the weekend include a three-day music festival, a large fan fest at the Phoenix Convention Center and more.

The last time the Final Four was in the Valley in 2017, the area’s hotels saw a 27% revenue boost, according to CoStar.

“We are saddened that the NCAA made the choice to book the teams playing in the Final Four in (three) hotels who have refused to pay a living wage for the last nine months,” the statement continued.

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Final Four fan hotel workers walk out on game day to protest allegations of labor law violations