Is the Bad Weather Saving the Weekend?

Very little media attention has been paid to the fact that wage employees are likely at any moment to go on strike at four of Boston's biggest hotels -- the Copley Westin, Sheraton Boston, Park Plaza, and the new Westin by the Convention Center, all owned by Starwood. The union voted to authorize a strike as of April 1, and the contract still hasn't been reached, which means that the strike could start any day that the union negotiators feel like it. The union is gearing up for it; you've probably noticed the trailers with "Unite Here" banners outside those hotels.

The union's leader, Janice Loux, is no dummy, and insiders assure me that two factors will play into the timing of a strike, if there is one: maximum impact, and maximum participation. Maximum impact means causing the most logistical and financial damage to the hotels. Maximum participation means getting the most fellow hotel workers to join the picket lines. (Starwood is negotiating on behalf of other area hotels, which will all adopt the final contract.)

It's hard to beat Patriots Day weekend for maximum impact. And as it happens, Presidential candidate and rabid Unite Here advocate John Edwards will be in the vicinity -- he's campaigning in New Hampshire Sunday, and I'm sure he would love to swing through Boston for a picket-line photo-op.

But weather is a key consideration for maximum participation. As far as I can gather, there will be no strike this weekend. Would there have been one if the forecast wasn't cold, wet, and gloomy? Only Loux knows.

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