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Hilton Back Bay workers unionize

Employees at the Hilton Boston Back Bay have joined the local hospitality workers’ union, earning the right to negotiate for higher wages and cheaper health insurance. A majority of the 120 housekeepers, front desk clerks, doormen, waiters, and cooks voted to become a part of Unite Here Local 26, and hotel management voluntarily recognized the union, according to Local 26 president Brian Lang.

“Now they have the opportunity to sit down as equals with the hotel to negotiate on their wages, benefits, and working conditions,” he said. “What’s great about this is this is a hotel company that is now committed to doing this in a collaborative and responsible way.”

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The Back Bay Hilton is the 31st organized hotel in the Boston-Cambridge area, where slightly more than half of the hotels are unionized. Hotel management did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Local 26 is involved in several other union campaigns, including a high-profile fight at the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill near Massachusetts General Hospital that Lang characterized as an “all-out war.” Workers there say they have to deal with needles, blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids from recently released hospital patients, and don’t have the proper training or equipment to handle it — claims hotel management says are untrue and motivated by unionization efforts. The Boston City Council has held a hearing on the matter, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.