Family, holidays, and the #MarriottStrike
November 2, 2018 5:17 PM   Subscribe

My family wants me to stay with them at a hotel where the staff is on strike, over the Thanksgiving holiday. Complication: They already paid for my room, and it's non-refundable.

I'm flying in to Boston to meet up with my parents for Thanksgiving this year. My aunt and uncle will also be there. They are expecting me to stay at one of the hotels where the workers are currently on strike.

Back in September, my parents booked two rooms, one for them and one for me, at one of the Marriott hotels that is striking. When I found out about the ongoing strike in mid-October, I freaked out and sent my mom an email trying to frame it as both concern for our comfort at the hotel (an angle that I don't care about but figured might convince them) and mostly concern that we would be the bad guys by staying there. I accidentally sent it to the wrong email address so she never got it.

I called my parents and told my mom about the strike saying that I didn't want to cross the picket line and offering to pay for reservations at a different hotel. She said something like "oh, that's terrible, but the room is non-refundable" and "correcting" my language, saying "actually workers are the ones who cross picket lines" and I just let it drop. I re-sent the original email, again offering to pay, and booked a separate room for myself at a hotel on the Fair Hotel list. I have until November 18th to cancel it. I haven't told anyone that I booked it yet.

My mom received my email and then emailed my aunt and uncle, who are a) pretty conservative, b) Marriott rewards members and frequent travelers, and c) booked at the same hotel. They responded with a one-liner saying they aren't worried and they haven't heard anything from the hotel.

My mom then sent me an email back saying: "Aunt and Uncle aren't worried. There is a way to get inside the hotel without going through the picket lines. I know you're morally concerned about the workers, but the pay situation is ongoing in our society and always has been. E.g., the [public job I had] gets no sick or vacation days and gets minimum wage, but I was able to use your dad's benefits. I've been increasing my tips for hotel staff since I'm always amazed that they can find staff in cities where the cost of living is so high for most folks."

This pissed me off so I wrote up a response: "Ok, that's fine, I made a cancellable reservation for myself at at [other hotel] which is just a 10 minute walk away. I can't in good conscience walk past a picket line while workers are striking, even if the money is already spent. The fact that it's so prevalent makes it that much more necessary to support workers in any way possible, even if it's symbolic only. Anyway hopefully the contracts will be resolved by then and I can cancel."

I haven't sent the response.

For a couple reasons:

- The reservation at the fair hotel is around $400. I can afford this but it's a nicer hotel than I'm used to staying at, and it feels weird to throw so much money at a hotel when I could be giving it directly to the strike fund. I can and likely will give to the strike fund as well, but probably not as much as I'm paying for the fair hotel. This feels shitty. If I cancel the reservation and stay in the strike hotel, I'd donate all that money to the strike fund for sure. I don't want to stay at a cheaper hotel because my dad will feel bad and offer to pay for it (see below). I also want to keep the option open of me booking a room for them in the fair hotel.

- I talked with my partner, who is not going and thus not involved, but he was on a potential-union-formation committee at his job and gets it. We talked about how it's an interesting angle that Marriott already has the money from the original reservation, and so staying at the fair hotel would mostly be about optics and "looking good", which to me feels... not great. But is still important. I do really like the idea that if I stayed at the fair hotel, I could bring the strikers coffee and food on Thanksgiving and such. No way I could do that if I was staying at the strike hotel.

- Trips with my parents: I only see them a couple times a year and I can tell they really look forward to it (I do too!). When I see them it's often in a different city since they like to travel (they are recently retired but comfortable. They travel a lot). However on their trips they like to do a lot of eating, drinking, and hanging out in the hotel room. Especially since they're very familiar with this city there will probably be a lot of that and not a lot of getting out to do stuff. When I've taken trips with them before, a lot of our bonding, hanging out and talking happens at the hotel room while we all chill and watch TV or read. Me staying at another hotel would mean I don't get to spend time with them nearly as much.

- More about my parents: They are "liberal" but not to the point of activism. They think socialism is going too far but my dad will rant about how Trump needs to be impeached, etc. My mom is more moderate and cares less about politics but clearly just doesn't want things to inconvenience her personally. She will be super mad at me if I tell her I booked a separate room and then go through with it. My dad is super generous with his money, will be paying for all our dinners, and will very likely offer to pay for the rooms in the fair hotel or slip me money for it. Another likely scenario is that my mom will refuse to let him pay, or he will do it anyway and she will resent it HARD and they will fight and she will be pissed at me. I REALLY don't want my dad paying for it because I will feel super guilty about it - they just retired, they didn't ask to get involved in this, and they clearly don't care if they stay at a striking hotel. (I'd be fine paying for their room in addition to mine, but my dad would never let me, and even then - that's $800 that could go to the strike fund!)

- My family is super passive, and I'm an only child, and this is the first time I've had to deal with any kind of confrontation/disagreement with them. We, as a family, just Don't Do It and as a result just suck it up and let everything simmer.

I am so torn on what to do. Do I sacrifice time with my family to do what is mostly a symbolic political move (but one that will allow me to actually go out and support the workers too)? Do I cancel the reservation, stay at the strike hotel, feel like a TOTAL SHIT, and just donate extra to the strike fund? If I stay at the fair hotel, how do I break it to my parents, and not let my dad pay for anything? In that case how do I deal with the inevitable fallout (and conversation at the dinner table, if they still even want to have dinner with me)? Please help.
posted by ghostbikes to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Clarifying question: are you completely sure the room is nonrefundable? From reading this post it seems that you heard this from your mom -- do you have the receipt and/or can you doublecheck on your own, in case she is mistaken?
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Take your parents out of the equation (because boundaries are Good and they are crossing them)—if this were a trip you were taking by yourself under these conditions, what would you do?

That’s what you should do.
posted by Automocar at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

Also, if the rooms are truly nonrefundable, this seems like a good opportunity to practice setting pleasant, firm boundaries (a la Automocar).

"Thanks so much, however the hotel workers are on strike and I support organized labor, so I made a reservation at _____ for myself. Looking forward to seeing everyone!"

It's on them how they feel about that and from my outsider's perspective, if your mom freaks out she is completely out of line. (By the way, it's easy for me to say this, and much more difficult for you to do -- good luck!)
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:28 PM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]

Is it even going to be pleasant for them to stay at this picketed hotel? If you can find reviews lamenting the atrocious service (or lack thereof) while workers are out maybe they’ll just change their mind anyway.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:44 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sigh. I'm fully clear and in agreement with you and your position. You're right. But you should cancel the "fair hotel" and stay with your parents. Your mom's position is not ideal but she acknowledged your feelings. Spend time with your parents. Be clear to them how uncomfortable you are but i think based solely on your valuing and enjoying their time you should do it. It feels icky. And you should do something for the strikers and strike fund. But the time with your parents is too valuable
posted by chasles at 5:51 PM on November 2, 2018 [16 favorites]

Assuming the Bad Hotel room really is non-refundable I would occupy the room (prevents the Bad Hotel from re-booking the room and making even more money, yes?). The money that I would otherwise have to spend on a replacement room I would donate directly to the strike fund. On Thanksgiving I would take the strikers food and coffee and such (purchased somewhere other than the Bad Hotel) because who the heck says I can’t? And if I felt insecure about it I would see if I could contact a strike organizer and ask what they think of my plan.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:53 PM on November 2, 2018 [35 favorites]

A lot of the times "non-refundable" bookings can be cancelled, fwiw. It's at least worth a shot to try. As for the family issues, well, activism and solidarity aren't supposed to be easy. If you choose not to stay at a picketed hotel, and your parents do stay there, then you may see less of them. If you choose to cross the picket line, you will likely feel very uncomfortable doing that as well. There's no way to navigate this without discomfort, that's the whole point of a strike.
posted by muddgirl at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2018 [13 favorites]

I'm an academic and sometimes I have to cross picket lines for conferences. A way that many of us work through this is to do a lot of things to support the strikers. I know that this isn't optimal, but it might be a compromise in this situation.
posted by k8t at 6:01 PM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think if you asked any of the strikers whether they'd rather have:
  1. Marriott to get the price of your original room and the strikers to get a donation to their strike fund.
  2. Marriott to get the price of your original room and you to spend money elsewhere.
that they'd go for 1.
posted by saeculorum at 6:07 PM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]

Assuming that the nonrefundability claim is true, I think the tangible support of donating the money that you would have spent on another hotel toward the strike fund (or even a portion thereof) is a more useful gesture of support than the symbolic gesture of not crossing the picket line. Obviously, not putting money in the hands of the Evil Capitalist Dogs would be the ideal solution, but that ship has already sailed and they are getting the money for your room, like it or not. The strikers may as well get the money you would spend on another room, rather than another set of Marginally Less Evil Capitalist Dogs.
posted by drlith at 6:11 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Marriott's policy is that you can cancel up to 48 hours in advance of arrival, I think. Maybe your parents made the reservation through a third party or something, but I would definitely call the hotel. Is the room in your name? If you can cancel it yourself, do it. No need to send a detailed argument to your mom, just tell her you weren't comfortable with it and decided to get a different room. You could also maybe rent a room via Airbnb for less.
posted by pinochiette at 6:16 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I think there is a difference between booking rooms prior to the strike being announced and someone who books afterward.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

Don't cross a picket line. For pete's sake. If the workers wanted people to stay at the hotel and donate to the strike fund, they would put out a call on social media - they have all of Twitter and Facebook to do this.

You know in your heart that this is havering and conflict avoidance and the reluctance to be uncomfortable.

Strikers don't say "well, everyone should support our strike except people who would feel bad about missing out on something, or whose families would claim that they were Rrrrrrrrruining The Holidays, or people whose parents allege that not staying in the same hotel one holiday is somehoe insufficiently filial; those people should totally ignore our strike". The more loopholes and "oh, cross the picket line if you donate to the strike fund" things get put about, the harder it is to actually, you know, have a picket line at all.

It is likely that the room was purchased through a third-party discounter and is non-refundable for that reason.

Do you think that the great union organizers of the past, the ones who brought us laws against child labor and laws against terrible working conditions - who brought us, in fact, the right to organize at all, since "combining" used to be totally illegal - would say to you, "oh go ahead after all your parents paid for the room"? Did they fight and die so that you could walk past striking workers every day at the holidays, highlighting the bourgeois comfort in which your family lives and the working class marginality that they experience?

You clearly know what the right thing to do is, don't rationalize yourself out of it.
posted by Frowner at 6:22 PM on November 2, 2018 [72 favorites]

Even if the company has the policy of not refunding, they still can refund if they want to. I remember a lot of posts on where things were eventually resolved, and I think they published a guide at one point, which I'll try to recall as best I can.

I'd suggest you first the information on the hotel, including confirmation number, from your mom, and call the hotel and see if it can be cancelled yourself. If you don't succeed with the hotel itself, ask for the person's manager, then try the company through social media (try DMing them), and their customer care lines/managers. If that fails, email executives for the specific hotel chain, and if that fails, for marriot itself.

Don't be afraid to get a list of executives off their investor site and do first name and last name with a period between them as that seems to be how Marriot does it, which consumerist called an executive email carpet bombing if memory serves. Incidentally, if you own any large mutual funds or etfs, you may be an investor, and you can maybe contact their investor relations department. Politely but firmly make noise.

You want to state the problem succinctly, something like "I don't feel comfortable staying while the union is striking, crossing a picket line seems wrong", that you hope they can help you, and the specific resolution you desire from them, and that you hope you can resolve the matter privately between you and the company.

I'd write all this down before you first call, and then use that for any DMs, emails, etc.

Create a blog, if you don't ordinarily have one and a blog post. Document each step, every person you talk to's name, what was said or written (with screen shots if applicable), and link to the blog post in any written communication. Include an email or other means of contact.

If the company itself won't help after you escalate, reach out to Boston consumer journalists like Hank Phillippi Ryan or Sean Murphy, consumer advocates, Union media people etc, and see if you can get someone to intercede or write on the topic. That's when you post to social media about it, publicly tweet them, and link to your blog post (which presumably nobody who isn't marriot is going to come across beforehand).

If they still don't do so, or if nobody will do a story/advocate for you, file a complaint with the state, the city, better business bureau, whomever takes complaints. Even if there is no legal justification as to why you should complain, often merely responding to such complaints will cause companies to change their minds even if nothing else worked.

You might even track hours/days spent on this (though you shouldn't need more then a half hour or at most an hour every day or three), and put a running tally on the blog or just use it for each post title.
posted by gryftir at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Being an ally only when it’s convenient for you means not being an ally. What you do when it’s hard is what counts.

Don’t cross a picket line. If your mom will get more upset about that than about the way striking workers are being treated, then that’s her problem and she can sit with that discomfort, and hopefully she’ll level up. How she reacts is on her. What you do is on you.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2018 [18 favorites]

Aunt and Uncle aren't worried. There is a way to get inside the hotel without going through the picket lines.


However on their trips they like to do a lot of eating, drinking, and hanging out in the hotel room.
Are they/you aware that the picket line entails round-the-clock chanting, drumming, bullhorns etc. outside the hotel?

Other than that, seconding everything that Frowner said.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

Also, when you cross the picket line, your action normalizes crossing the picket line - you're not going to be carrying a great big sign which says "room pre-paid and not by me". You also tell Marriott that their reputation isn't suffering. You probably also spend other money at the hotel or with the hotel's business partners - aren't you going to grab a coffee or get room service or something during a protracted stay? (The knock-on effects of picket lines are important in settling corporate strikes too, even though solidarity strikes are not allowed.)

And you're also saying to your parents, "When we have conflict over values, I am always going to fold on things I sincerely support once you guilt me enough or money is in the picture". This is a bad precedent to set. I promise you that this is not a good lesson to teach your family.

When you follow this path, you're letting yourself act as though your beliefs are decorative rather than real. I understand that this is tempting and I've done it a time or two myself, to my lasting regret.

You aren't going to look back in five years and think "I feel good about walking through the picket line every day that Thanksgiving".
posted by Frowner at 6:33 PM on November 2, 2018 [44 favorites]

Don't cross a picket line. That's the whole point of the picket line. Just don't do it.

I don't want to stay at a cheaper hotel because my dad will feel bad and offer to pay for it (

He's comfortable, yes? He'll be fine. I'm sorry your parents don't value the same things that you do.

Comparing the material conditions of workers with the...intentional and totally avoidable annoyance your parents might create for themselves by choice, the answer seems clear.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think you need to ask yourself what's more important to you.

1. Not causing friction with your family/causing your Dad to fight with your Mom.


2. Supporting the workers who are on strike.

Because it sounds like there is going to be awkwardness and discomfort for you either way.

By the way, it matters that this is a Marriott. You may know this already, but even among hotels, Marriott is particularly notorious for being anti-union. In the city where I live, they recently pulled out of an incredibly lucrative government program that would've netted them millions and millions of essentially free dollars rather than let unions into a single hotel here.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

Just one more comment and then I'll stop: I get that this is no fun! I hate conflict! (Which is a huge problem for me in activist situations! Picketing when I was on strike some years ago was horrible!) Like, I really feel your feelings in this whole situation. My dad is a big pro-union guy, but I'm familiar with the "if I tell my dad about this he will really want to help me out financially because he will want to smooth my way and I feel extremely conflicted about that" thing.

I understand that this is stressful and upsetting. It would be super stressful and upsetting for me. I would be absolutely tempted to let myself go with the low-conflict "cross the line, donate to the fund" option because I really hate family conflict.

But it's not right. You won't feel good about it down the road, you know you won't.

Setting ethical boundaries with family is an important part of becoming a separate adult person. (Signed, a Very Late Adult-Becomer)
posted by Frowner at 6:42 PM on November 2, 2018 [22 favorites]

I think you can work out a compromise. If you are truly willing to spend $400 in support of their cause, then go to the leader of the picket line and give them a brief explaination of your situation. After that, hand them the $400 to help the cause.
posted by lobstah at 6:48 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are some situations where it can be difficult to avoid crossing a picket line (usually where your livelihood would be seriously jeopardized). This is not one of them. You won't be ruining the holidays or not spending time with your family by staying in a nearby hotel. You'll staying ten minutes away.

A picket is intended as a symbolic action. That's why the striking workers don't just stay home. Don't cross the line. It's not the simplest thing in the world, but you can be firm about its being against your values without being unkind to your parents and other relatives.
posted by praemunire at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

Just FYI, there's a 50/50 chance that my brother-in-law is one of the strikers whose picket line you'd be crossing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:11 PM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

(He's a really nice guy with a growing family that includes two awesome little daughters and he's a cook at one of the striking Marriotts in Boston. It would really matter a lot to him, and to his family, and to me personally, if his strike succeeded.)
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:14 PM on November 2, 2018 [29 favorites]

It would really matter a lot to him, and to his family, and to me personally, if his strike succeeded.

Personally, I'd be really curious whether he'd rather have a $400 donation or someone not crossing a picket line. Ask him?
posted by saeculorum at 7:35 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

The hidden third choice is cancel the trip, don't cross the picket line, and donate $400, but that would be inconvenient.
posted by muddgirl at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

I mean I'll ask him, but it's not like the Asker is going to be wearing a sandwich board reading "I DONATED $400 TO THE STRIKE FUND" when they cross that line.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:48 PM on November 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

It is more useful to cancel a room because of the strike and ask for a refund for that reason than to donate to the strike fund. The hotel will very likely give a refund because many people won't cross picket lines.
posted by theora55 at 7:51 PM on November 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Hey all, thanks for the great answers. It feels really good to get this out there, it's just been going around and around in my head for a couple weeks now.

I just checked the receipt my mom sent for the room they booked. It was booked through Expedia and they list the hotel policy when I look into the itinerary, which is: no refunds. I wouldn't go above my parents' head in escalating and asking for a refund without their consent, and they definitely would not consent. They wouldn't go through the trouble themselves, and they wouldn't want me to do it either, even if I offered. They won't care about the noise or anything.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2018

You may not have a good experience if the strike is still going on.
Here's more about what to expect.

Many Americans have little experience with unions, strikes, or picket lines- it isn't anyone's fault that they haven't had to make this decision before. You're doing the right thing by trying to find out more. Staying at the hotel in spite of the strike is no way to show support for these workers. Maybe try asking yourself whether there is any protest or issue that would ever make you decide not to stay at the hotel with your parents, and then try to think about where you draw the line. Read this piece and take a look at the photos.

Solidarity means sacrifice and inconvenience, otherwise it wouldn't be solidarity. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard.
posted by cushie at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]

If your parents want to pay for a hotel room at Marriott that you won't be staying in, that's not really your problem. My experience is that it would be easy for them to get a refund - they call the hotel, the hotel notifies Expedia, Expedia issues the refund. Then if your father wants to pay in whole or part for your expensive hotel room, you can give that amount to the picket line.
posted by muddgirl at 8:18 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Agree that you should not stay at the Marriott.

An idea to head off the "dad will want to give me $, which will lead to fight with mom" part of your dilemma, and it involves a bit of lying: after discussing your real discomfort with your partner, they booked the room at the nearby nice hotel for you. Of course your dad wouldn't reimburse your significant other for a gift for you.

Ultimately, you're still doing the right thing with regard to the strike, and you've kept your boundaries with your parents - it's just a detail (providing your partner signs off) to help smooth over that specific financial wrinkle and make it easier to spend this time with your family. Maybe invite them to your hotel for the hanging-out portion of the trip.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:31 PM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

They may also be able to get a refund through the credit card they used. Amex, Citi, etc. all are really good about travel stuff and usually with work with you.

Alternatively, I've had really good luck when I've had to change/cancel travel plans using 3rd party agencies. They are more sympathetic than you'd think, especially if you call sooner rather than later. I think I had to move or cancel reservations at least two or three times in the span of a three week trip (it was a cross country road trip) and they never dinged me once, as long as I explained the situation. FWIW, it was (and I think Expedia at least once).
posted by dancinglamb at 9:57 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mom and Dad, this is really important to me.
It would mean a lot to me if you would support me with this. It really would. I want us to have a good visit and it's going to be really hard with this hanging over it.

Please let me do my best to get our reservations cancelled. I think it will be possible despite the text on the receipt. If it's not possible I'll figure out the next step, but please let me try to cancel all of our reservations. Then we can book at this hotel 10 minutes away. I will feel much better about this trip, we won't have protests going on around our hotel at all times, and it would really mean a lot to me.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you.

Don't just offer to cancel: frame their consent as a gift they can give you, and lay out a concrete alternative (so they know they won't have to look around for a new hotel).
posted by trig at 10:46 PM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

Even most "no refunds" hotel reservations will give refunds, because they really, really don't like the bad press of "I was hospitalized three weeks before my vacation and got hit with hotel costs that I couldn't use along with my debilitating illness." Non-transferable/no-refunds is what they want, but it comes out to nightmare PR when they have customers who, for whatever reason, can't inhabit the room. They also don't like being hit with credit card charge reversals--and if you didn't use the room, you didn't get what you paid for.

Point out to your parents that:
1) If they stay in the hotel, they're supporting a huge corporation that mistreats its workers;
2) Service is likely to be very poor that weekend - the better workers will be on strike; the ones left will likely be too desperate to risk their jobs, and may be covering areas outside of their skill ranges;
3) There may be noise and constant disturbances - a relaxing weekend is not likely;
4) Can we get back to the mistreatment? I don't want to give money to already-rich shareholders so they can keep abusing their employees;
5) This is very important to me, AND I won't be able to enjoy the weekend if I'm staying at the Marriott; the fun weekend we had planned will not happen; now we need to negotiate which parts of that plan are going to change.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:40 PM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

My brother-in-law says he would rather you stay at a different hotel than donate $400 and then cross the picket line.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:19 AM on November 3, 2018 [44 favorites]

Give the money you would spend on another hotel to the striking workers and buy the workers pizza or other food at some point during your stay. A group of folks from my office have been dropping by with coffee and donuts every few days and they're always appreciated. As a guest of the hotel, you'll also be in a good position to complain to the management about the lack of progress in addressing the workers' concerns.
posted by spindrifter at 7:12 AM on November 3, 2018

I haven't read all the rest of the comments, so maybe this is something that has already been discussed.

From what you describe, you are very uneasy about staying at the hotel. But you are also conflicted about what is the right ethical move, considering that the room is non-refundable. It sounds like you have thought pretty deeply about the issue from that angle.

I want to pull out another thing you mentioned in your post. You said that you only see your parents a couple times a year and you look forward to it. You also said that staying in a separate hotel room would harm your time with your parents, since it isn't like you all meet up to do things outside all day; you spend much of your time hanging out at the hotel. I don't think you would be able to have that time with your parents if you stayed elsewhere. If you go to the hotel just to spend an evening with your parents before heading out, you will still have crossed a picket line, but you will also have the practical and financial inconvenience of staying elsewhere, making that option the worst of both possible worlds. So your options are to stay at your parents' hotel or to stay elsewhere and have less time with them.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who lives far away from my family and who lost a parent this year: that time is important. It is not about convenience, it's about one of your few chances a year to spend time with your parents just hanging out and relaxing. It's okay to value that time very highly-- as highly, or maybe even more so, than the symbolic harm that may be done by visibly crossing a picket line.

If I were in your situation, I would weigh things towards choosing the time with your parents and staying in the hotel, especially considering that the room is pre-paid. But whichever way you come down, I just want to mention that it's ok for you to give real consideration to the personal value to you and your parents of staying in the same hotel.
posted by Henrietta Stackpole at 7:22 AM on November 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

Liberal / left Americans are very used to --- trained to, really --- consider the only really ethically-considered choices to be ones that we individually pore over and determine based on (often unknowable) consequentialist ends. We have largely lost our understanding of the value of ethical following; ethical teamwork.

There are many benefits that can only really be reaped if people simply follow bright-line rules in the service of complex and challenging --- but achievable --- goals. One of those bright-line rules is to never cross a picket line.

We can talk about individual ethics and individual action all we want, but some things cannot be achieved by individual action. That is why the wealthy don't work alone; they hire lobbyists and Congressmen and they expect them to fall in line. Sometimes we need to fall in line, too. This is one of those times. Don't do it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:29 AM on November 3, 2018 [36 favorites]

It's a false choice. ghostbike's parents aren't trapped in the Boston Marriott. They are perfectly capable of changing their plans if they valued their child's ethics above their own temporary discomfort.
posted by muddgirl at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

I keep thinking about this so sorry in advance for the second post.

Every gain we've had as workers is from actions like this. Weekends, the eight hour day, breaks to piss and eat, OSHA and workplace safety, healthcare, protection from discrimination, whatever minimal protection there is against sexual harassment, protections for whistleblowers... it's a long list, and yet not nearly long enough. We have so much further to go and every time someone crosses a picket line it sets everything back. With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, I fear we're heading back toward the Lochner Era.

I know this is hard. I think a lot of us commenting have had experiences where we were under pressure to let something slide even though we knew it was messed up, and at one time or another we've done it, and now part of why we're posting is to let you know that the feelings that raised in us don't go away, they don't diminish.

If anything, they get worse.

I don't want you to have to live with that.

Whether you ultimately do this for yourself or for Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The's brother-in-law and his family or because 24/7 chanting, drumming, and bullhorns is not a restful experience, don't cross the picket line.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:35 AM on November 3, 2018 [11 favorites]

On the plus side, two hotels have already ratified new agreements and contracts with the striking workers, so fingers tightly crossed that this will be a non-issue by Thanksgiving. If you do get reservations somewhere else, you should make sure THOSE are refundable.

But yeah, please don't cross that picket line. That's my union and some of my best friends have been on that Boston line all day every day, shouting themselves hoarse.
posted by EmilyFlew at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is there any reason you and your parents can’t have Family Time at *your* hotel room?

If they don’t think crossing picket lines is a big deal, then they should be willing to do so in order to facilitate the important familial social interactions while respecting their child’s values.
posted by myotahapea at 4:31 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much Metafilter. This thread helped me come down firmly on the side of keeping my fair hotel reservation. I've been agonizing over when and how to tell my parents about it... but I just bit the bullet and sent my mom an email:

Hi Mom,
I wanted to let you know that I've been following the hotel union strike closely and it's still going on. A couple of the affected hotels in Oakland and Detroit have resolved their contracts but Boston is still striking. I made a cancellable reservation for myself at [fair hotel] just in case, which is only a 10 minute walk away from [striking hotel]. I can't in good conscience walk past a picket line while workers are striking. Having to do that would definitely ruin my time in Boston and I'd rather enjoy my time with you and Dad while I'm there. Anyway hopefully the contracts will be resolved before then and I can cancel.
I'm happy to call [striking hotel] and try to get a refund for the room you booked for me. If I can't get one I'll definitely pay you back for it. Also, if you are interested in a room at [fair hotel] I will gladly book one for you.
Looking forward to seeing you. I'll give you a call this weekend.

Thanks again everyone.
posted by ghostbikes at 6:00 PM on November 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

Good job ghostbikes! I'm glad you did that.
posted by Frowner at 6:19 PM on November 8, 2018

Great email! Well done.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:34 AM on November 9, 2018

Looks like an agreement has been reached! The strike is over.
posted by cushie at 6:17 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just saw on Twitter that Boston workers ratified a new contract and the strike is over there!
posted by ghostbikes at 2:42 PM on November 17, 2018

Oh yeah, and my mom was actually very understanding and supportive! And we talked a bit about the situation and it went fine!

Now I'm just feeling bad that I didn't "get to" call the Marriott and let them know why I was taking my business elsewhere.

I marked the answers I found most convincing as best. But ultimately I just got super lucky. I'm going to donate the other-hotel reservation money somewhere.
posted by ghostbikes at 2:56 PM on November 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

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