Living Wage Protesters Arrested…Again

After sixteen living wage protesters held a sit-in in the Mariott lobby yesterday, police arrested three of them for trespassing. One of those three, Andrew Holden, was also arrested in June of 2001 at the Omni, in that case for chaining himself to an elevator. Said Holden,
“We want to meet to make our point very directly. The Marriott not paying its employees a living wage is a situation of abuse.” Holden expressed hope that his arrest may make it possible for him to meet with the hotel’s owner, who has thus far refused to meet with the living wage advocates. Abby Fox has the story in today’s Cavalier Daily.

34 thoughts on “Living Wage Protesters Arrested…Again”

  1. Interesting note in all of this Marriot business. I have it on good authority that the Courtyard Marriot the protesters always go to is part of the Tidewater area franchise which does in fact pay it’s workers over $8.00/hr minimum. The protesters have been asked why they choose to protest at a place that pays living wage, and they stated that it was a convenient location. Apparently they are trying to put pressure on Marriot International and are protesting at a hotel that has no fiscal association with it. Weird, eh?

  2. This is not news. If you think its news, just put up a headline that says "Andrew Holden is a bombastic simpleton" every few weeks. Because rest assured, he still will be.

    To whom it may concern: Thank you for hauling his obnoxious ass out of a tax paying business. Our economy depends on tourism, not pompous assholes screaming at visitors.

    I suggest all area businesses obtain a restraining order against him. Maybe he’ll finally get it.

  3. I still do not understand the living wage movement. If a person is unhappy with their earnings, then simply get a better paying job. I worked at a place not making the greatest pay so instead of protesting my employer for more money to live in Cville I better myself with a better job that pays well.

    This economy isn’t the best right now so if your only skill is to clean up hotel rooms then chances are you are not going to get the same salary as a someone who is a doctor or a lawyer. I know that the protesters are aware of that. People don’t understand the consequences of their decisions. If you think it was a good idea to quit high school, then don’t except to be making a good salary when you are 30. I know most people say well something came up like kids. Then don’t have kids when you are too young or not ready to support them when you can’t even support yourself.

    I am a 27 year college grad with making ends meet. I am not married nor do I have any kids. I have a good paying job and feel that right now I am not ready to have a family nor do I want one at the moment. I have good earnings that allows me to live a life with material wants. I feel if something would happen where I needed to get a job that has a pay check every two checks then I would trim down my wants. I will never see it from their point of view. They need say hey, this job suxs I need to get a better job. Wait a minute; I am not qualified for anything higher. So what must I do to better myself? Should I take classes?; What I see is that people rather protest then better themselves.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel they basically want others the pay the price for their laziness or misfortune early on.

  5. Just curious–usually (or often) the protesters are not themselves the ones being paid the sub-living wage. For example, many of the leaders of this movement are university faculty–not min-wage Marriott workers.

    That kind of complicates the idea that "they want others to pay the price for their own laziness (passing some pretty stern judgment on people you don’t know, by the way) or misfortune," if it’s not the min-wage worker doing the protesting.

  6. The real problem is that the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation. I’m not certain where it is now, but a few years ago the statistic I read was that had the minimum wage simply kept up with inflation it would be around $12 per hour.

    I’m not at all clear why cleaning hotel rooms or any other minimum-wage job should today be of less value than in was in the 1950s.

    Minimum is minimum. It is the least we can do. Over the years a highly effective business lobby has in practice reduced our definition of minimum. Protesting directly to the types of businesses that invest money to effectually depress the minimum wage doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Wanting to have the same stuff done today at less cost that it was done yesterday does.

  7. Heh, you’ve gotta admire his conviction. I don’t know enough about the issue to have an opinion for or against, but this guy’s obviously willing to put his body where his mouth is. Far more than most "complainers" are willing to do. ;)

  8. I still do not understand the living wage movement. If a person is unhappy with their earnings, then simply get a better paying job.

    So you don’t believe that there should be a state- or federally-mandated minimum wage?

  9. Even accepting everything you are saying, that still does not defend what these protestors are doing. They are protesting against somone who is not guilty of what they allege and in fact has no power or influence over the problem.

    That Marriot location is owned by a regional hotel company- NOT by Marriot International. An employee at that hotel has assured me that everyone there is making at least $8.00 an hour. The protestors are liars.

    This is an abuse of the protest tool. These people are accusing a business of things that are simply untrue. Every day that they stand in front of the building waving their signs, they are deterring business and causing direct, intentional harm to the hotel.

    What you have here is a sad example of protest culture gone amiss. Having worked for an environmental policy group and participated in this type of political activity, I can tell you that a group psychology of protest for the sake of protest emerges very easily. A group formed around protest will foster an ethic of protest with a diminishing standard of need.

    This group is so accustomed to protesting against Marriot that the emerging fact of a mistaken target is irrelevant to them. You get a real rush from doing something like that- feeling like you are a righteous crusader against evil. It’s a hard thing to walk away from.

    According to an eyewitness/Marriot employee, when confronted with assurances from employees of their satisfactory pay, the protestors in the recently-seized lobby began stammering something about buildings having been torn down in order to build the hotel. One way or another, these guys will find something convenient to criticize. Perhaps they are now expecting that the hotel will be demolished and new ‘old’ buildings will be erected in their place.

    A more reasonable projection should incude a few nights in the Cville pokey.

  10. Do you admire the conviction of serial killers? Do you admire the conviction of alchoholics who will do just about anything to get another bottle of hooch?

    Hasnt anyone noticed that there are a large group of people who want to annoy us so they can feel like they are above the rest of us? This guy truly believes that we shouldn’t drive cars, or use electricity, or heat our homes. Yet he goes around doing ALL of those things but expects us to treat him like he’s our savior.

    No one person in cville has ever lowered my opinon of them to that of "hate" except for andrew, and ofcourse he thinks I give a rats ass what he has to say, further demonstrating how dense he really is.

    Leave us alone you pompous asshole! go away!

  11. Yeah, but once they rebuild the new old buildings, he’ll protest the building of them too. The mariott would become the new old building, and he would resent its loss, I mean, how can he protest if there is no hotel there to protest?

    These people NEEED injustice in order to feel good about themselves, if they actually rid us of what they see as our problems, they’d be out of a job.

    I agree fully with your statement that protest culture has gone amiss. They dont need a cause, they just need to scream at us. I drove past the federal building on the way home every day, and half of the time I didnt even understand WHAT they were protesting, even after rolling my window down and ASKING what they were protesting I didnt even understand their response.

    Those signs they hold up are made of dead trees and/or petrochemical products. The cars they drove to get there belch out noxious fumes that cause cancer. They ask us to honk which causes noise pollution, and trivially increases the amount of power our cars alternators consume. How many watts do you think we’ve expended honking at these goons already? We could have used that power for something usefull.

    Think what it costs to send our police out to haul this asshole away. Think what it costs to keep him in the pokey… think of how much wasted energy we all have spent reading and/or writing about his whiney ass. I suggest the cville police tear gas him, its a lot cheaper, and he wont feel like he’s succeeded in getting arrested. He came to me and BRAGGED about being arrested for the omni thing and attempted to show me pictures of it, as if I was going to say "wow, you’re so cool, I wish I was as cool as you were".

    Just make him associate screaming at us with the searing pain and nausea of tear gas, and maybe he’ll get off his high horse.

    There are over 6 billion people on earth, when I was born there were just about 4 billion. World bank estimates are between 12 billion and 50 billion by the year 2050. If we paid everyone a minimum wage we’d just have to print money, further increasing inflation. Economics are based ont he fact that more and more people are competing for less and less resources, too bad, life isnt fair, quit whining! You’re lucky you’re alive, stop trying to make life miserable for the rest of us. Why do you blame everyone else for your situation? Why do you scream at us? Look inside yourself for once. Where does all this anger come from?

  12. What’s complicated is the paternalism exhibited by the (mostly) upper-middle-class, university-educated protestariat regarding the economic interests of the proletariat.

    As someone who’s worked and lived (fairly recently) on both sides of the economic divide, I can attest to the high cost of being poor. I do favor a strong safety net and adequate public services that would aid those with scanty means to better take care of themselves. Such things as transportation and day care come to mind as obstacles to economic mobility.

    Nevertheless, the object of the protesters is to force through the action of law a certain level of pay, the immediate costs of which will likely manifest themselves in lower rates of employment, higher prices or a combination of both. While it is tempting to become angry at presumed sweatshops, it might dawn on those so tempted to realize that there is more choice here than meets the eye, and therefore more dignity. The hotel workforce is not quite as supine under the nailed boot of Capitalism as many comfortable people might suppose.

    Anyway, merely to force one party to give to another is to treat both with a kind of contempt that is all too apparent among many in the cultural elite. I would argue that the real problem is the progressive infantilization foisted on those of modest station by the academic and cultural left as well as by the contemporary corporate world, which has thoroughly adopted the canons of political correctness worked out originally in the halls of the academy.

    At least the object of the protest here is paying some money to the workers in question, and there is a measure of dignity in that implied contract, a dignity that is lost in being given something by one’s "betters".

    “Help,” my friends, is a four-letter word.

  13. The issues surrounding wage minimums in these discussion threads are focusing only on the workers themselves. While this might be sensible and humane to a point, it is also important for any robust understanding of the situation to consider the effects of raising such minimums on business, from which all the wages ultimately come.

    There is evidence for any number of positions on this issue—some point out that no major economic dislocations have resulted from raising the federal minimum wage in the past. This seems true—I can’t remember any recessions blamed on minimum wage hikes per se, or even on broader union activity. However, a number of businesses may be less likely to hire additional personnel or more likely to find ways to institute labor-saving measures. There is strong evidence that unionization in the United States, particularly in heavy industry, has led to the flight of much business abroad, or to the wholesale elimination of American participation in certain types of industry.

    At the same time, simple arithmetic dictates that rising costs mean either higher prices, or if consumers are unwilling to pay such prices, lower profits, which then means higher capital costs, lower new investment, lower productivity and eventually, lower wage growth. This is what happened in the 1970s, when profits stagnated, investment slumped, and productivity tanked. That decade was consequently the era of shoddy products, typified by ever-cheapening materials and production methods. This is one of the principal reasons for the sag in real wage growth in the 20 years after 1973, particularly in the lower percentiles of the income distribution charts.

    The fact is that the work under discussion here is unskilled labor. By definition, anyone who is reasonably physically fit can perform this work, which means that there is a vast number of potential candidates for these positions. The ready availability of such labor means that it can be had for cheap. By contrast, the supply of skilled workers, say, plumbers, is much more limited, and so one pays significantly more for such services.

    So, by legislating a certain level of pay, one intrudes on the market for labor and overrides what such job candidates would otherwise be willing to accept. It may be that a raise up to a point may not matter much to the economics of the hotel business (customers may be willing to put up with higher rates, to a point). This seems to have happened with past increases in the federal minimum wage, which had been allowed to fall so low that raises barely affected hiring behavior or consumer habits. Moreover, recent wage hikes took place in the context of the most vigorous overall economic expansion in American history, which masked any effect of such hikes on business’ costs.

    But it cannot be assumed that employers and consumers will not eventually respond to the effects of such raises as they did in the 1970s. If hotel workers are much more highly compensated, the hotel business may very well become one that caters only to the well-to-do.

    This is a complex way of saying that wage hikes can sometimes be a form of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. But it might take a Nobelist to work out an optimization formula for determining if $8 an hour would cause grass to grow in the streets of our fair city.

  14. I’m sorry — I’d thought that you were the original poster (guyincville), and mistook your lengthy and interesting response for dodging the question. :)

  15. It’s just so sad that they even thought to protest hotels. No one who lives in the area is going to stay at a hotel, so how do they think they are even harming their business? Why aren’t they protesting at some department or grocery store? When I worked at a grocery store I only got $6/hr. There are a lot of industries like that, so why pick on a business that pays living wage? It’s like protesting at Wachovia againt the federal interest rates. Meaningless and a waste of time. If they really wanted to change things like that they’d… no wait, I don’t want to help this guy.

  16. For those who commend their bravery in getting arrested, I’d like to point out that 22 of the 25 people protesting ran off as soon as they heard the cops mentioned. Really brave and principled, huh? This is info from an employee, btw.

  17. what gets me is that recently, when i’ve seen protesters out there, they haven’t even been marriot employees. it’s a bunch of neo-hippies and UVa students. don’t you think that if the employees were upset, they’d be the ones out there protesting? and to hear that the place they’re protesting isn’t even guilty of what they’re complaining about pisses me off even more.

  18. Just to clarify, no, I’m not opposed to a minimum wage. I just want to point out that legislative tinkering with economic behavior leads to many unintended consequences. Some of those might be bearable. Others? Maybe not.

    It seems to me, though, that the protesters are not willing to engage in serious inquiry into the question (witness the mistake about the actual pay received by our Marriott’s workers).

    Their primary error, however, is that they appear to think that one party is unfairly exploiting another and that a simple rebalancing of these supposed injustices will correct everything.

    My point is that any move, however justified morally or economically, will ripple across the economic landscape in a number of directions–affecting hotel patrons, investors, workers, and ancillary businesses such as suppliers, service firms, and small businesses that are merely located near the hotel but that benefit from the presence of its patrons.

    I suspect that, in the aggregate, the protesters are not interested in such further analysis, preferring instead to indulge in the festive (to them) occasion of manning the barricades.

    An interesting line of discussion might take up the sociology and psychology of protest and opposition, focusing on the carnivalization of politics.

    Whatever else may be said, the protesters are fascinating characters.

  19. I don’t oppose the minimum wage if you are curious. I just oppose people who don’t want to better themselves wanting hand outs. We live in such a odd world. We have people protesting child labor yet they go shopping at Wal*Mart. Makes a person wonder how a shirt would cost five bucks?

    What I am saying is this: the world doesn’t owe you diddly. If you want a living wage, then you either find yourself a better paying job or find yourself a new location where the cost of living is low. I think West Virginia has a lower cost of living.

    *no offense to all of our West Virginians* We love you guys!

  20. It’s a sad fact that a lot (not all- don’t get me wrong) of protesters haven’t even researched their topic. This makes them totally ineffective. A bit off-topic just about protesting in general, but does it bother anyone else that the Take Back the Night march always occurs on well-lit, totally safe route? They should be marching down Dice Street or weave their way through the neighborhoods between Grady and Main. I’d have way more respect for protesters of all kinds if they’d actually make a statement like that.

  21. The 1950’s were an UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC BOOM in the history of this country. Post WWII created wealth unknown before that, everyone bought a TV, a car, and a house the same year! EVERYONE! You cannot compare minimum wage then to minimum wage now, all you needed to be middle class then was a tie and a clean shave. People worked "at the office" doing "business".


  22. Ok I think we all agree we should tear gas these people. Any officers on here know where to buy that stuff? Can you get us letterhead to buy it with? :)

  23. I am one of the “upper-middle-class, university-educated protestariat [???] regarding the economic interests of the proletariat” you find so “complicated”? And thank God for us!

    It certainly does “dawn” on me that you are confused, or, at the least, confusing. What side of the debate are you on? I quote:

    “At least the object of the protest here is paying some money to the workers in question, and there is a measure of dignity in that implied contract, a dignity that is lost in being given something by one’s "betters".

    “Help,” my friends, is a four-letter word.”

    It seems there is “dignity” in which “implied contract”? The social contract of protesters or the wages-for-pay of the workers “in question”?

    I can think of many four-letter words, but the one you’re alluding to, my friend, is still a mystery!

  24. I was at the Habitat soiree at the Omni Saturday and they mentioned that a number of Omni empoyees were having deductions taken from their paychecks to help Habitat.

    Cool is not strong enough to describe that. It impresses me a lot more than unsolicited protesting by non-employees. Politely speaking, sacrifice walks, rhetoric talks.


  25. You misread my comment. The object of the protest is the Marriott, which as I say is paying money to its workers. There is a measure (modest to be sure) of dignity in such a transaction. The two parties are at least doing business.

    The protesters, on the other hand, aim to speak for those they deem voiceless. This in itself is obnoxious condescension and a species of oppression much worse than mere low pay. Such condescension kills the spirit of people and confirms everything they’ve heard that enforces their peonage–that they need the "help" of the superior, socially conscious fortunates . They will unionize if things become truly onerous, don’t you worry.

    While I support a democratically agreed-upon minimum wage, even a "living wage," I think such policy must be arrived at through the polls. To afflict a private business with picketing and circus mess is far more likely to delay passage of any such ameliorative ordinances. So in addition to the immediate harm of condescension, the protesters add to their counterproductive behavior the real chance that they will tarnish the legitimate portion of their message with drollery and encourage the perception among the public that the issue is the plaything of overeducated fops and dandies, with which our fair city appears to be amply endowed.

    (I plead guilty to foppishness myself, but I do admit it.)

    PS: "HELP" has four (4) letters. Thoreau once said, "There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and the nose and the ears and the eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me,–some of its virus mingled with my blood. No, –in this case I would rather suffer evil in the natural way."

    So, as Thoreau goes on to say, do not DO good, but BE good. And I would add that we confuse being and doing, as per the Sartrean fallacy.

  26. "This in itself is… a species of oppression much worse than mere low pay."

    I think that this is Romantic (capital R intentional) claptrap and a handy salve to some consciences. That the danger to the spirit is ever so much greater than the danger to the body, let the body waste if it must, but never threaten the spirit. That seems to be where you’re coming from. It’s a priviliged vantage point from which to view material want.

    And Thoreau didn’t like do-gooders much, but then he didn’t need a lot of good done to him, did he?

  27. The ignorance in some of these posts is astounding.

    First of all, the living wage protestors are not pushing for $8/hour, but $8.65/hour. The living wage in Cville has increased with the cost of living, since the original living wage campaign began more than 5 years ago. The Marriott workers in Cville do not make a living wage.

    Second, the idea that workers should "take classes" and qualify themselves for higher-paying jobs is more than a bit naive. Low-wage workers, who make less than a living wage, are more often than not forced to work more than one job. Where do you find time to take classes? And where do you find the money to pay for classes? The most direct solution is to simply win better pay at the job where you work.

    Which brings me to the third point: why are there no workers among the protestors? The disdain that many of these posts hold for the protestors themselves borders on the pathological. These protestors are heroes. They don’t have to spend their time fighting for someone else. But they do. And they do it because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, why aren’t the workers themselves protesting?

    I’ll tell you why. While it is the employees’ right, under the National Labor Relations Act, to join together and take concerted action to improve their wages and working conditions – which would include joining these living wage protests, this right is repeatedly and wantonly violated by employers all across the country, every day. More than 10,000 workers are fired from their jobs every year in this country for exercising these rights. And the penalties imposed on employers for violating these rights are so weak that employers treat the penalties as simply a cost of doing business and violate the rights anyway. It’s so bad, in fact, that international human rights organizations have issued reports condemning the United States for its failure to respect and protect workers’ basic rights to organize.

    But what about Marriott? Certainly, Marriott wouldn’t do that to its workers! Wrong. Sadly wrong. In just one Marriott location where workers attempted to organize and win better wages, Marriott was charged with just under 100 labor law violations, in its attempts to kill the workers’ campaign.

    Marriott cannot fire people that don’t work there, and that’s why the protestors are there. They are literally using their voices where others cannot.

  28. "The ignorance in some of these posts is astounding. "

    And I’m astounded that you seem to able to write just fine when you clearly can’t read. I happen to know multiple Marriot workers in this town. These Marriots belong to the TIDEWATER FRANCHISE, not Marriot International whose problems you cite. Period. They make good money, over $8 per hour (yes I know it’s 8.65 or whatever now, a recent change that we all are actually aware of). The sad fact is that these protestors are not heroes. They’re idiots that can’t even pick the right place to protest. One employee at the Courtyard actually told them "I hope you’re not here for us, because we get paid just fine." Hello? Anyone listening?

    Just because people get paid poorly at other Marriots OUTSIDE Tidewater franchise, doesn’t mean they do here. Protest somewhere where people get paid shit. It’s as simple as that. Is it because they *know* that they’ll get arrested when they go protest at a grocery store? Geez, if they were actually trying to help people instead of annoy them they’d get a lot more respect.

  29. Wow, I didn’t realize there was such a difference between TIDEWATER FRANCHISE and Marriott International!

    If TIDEWATER FRANCHISE is so kind to its workers, let’s see them prove it. They should sign a neutrality agreement, respecting the employees’ choice to unionize and leaving the choice entirely up to them, with NO interference from management, NONE of the typical threatening captive audience meetings, and NO delays in elections. And, under these conditions, if the majority of employees sign union cards, the TIDEWATER FRANCHISE should recognize their union and bargain with it. Then we’d see what employees really want, with no interference, coercion, or intimidation from their illustrious and generous benefactors at TIDEWATER FRANCHISE.

    Somehow, I don’t think TIDEWATER FRANCHISE would agree to giving employees such a free choice.

    One thing you forget about the "idiots" protesting, is that they PAID for Marriott. THIS Marriott, the TIDEWATER FRANCHISE, got very generous benefits from the taxpayers of Charlottesville to build and do business at that location. The LEAST the company can do is pay its workers a living wage, making sure that the people who work in Charlottesville make enough to live on.

    If the employee you referred to is a housekeeper, he or she should take a look at how much the owner of TIDEWATER FRANCHISE makes, how much housekeepers make where they have organized, and then decide if she’s paid "just fine."

    But kudos to you for having the je-ne-sais-qua to defend poverty wages and attack those who put their own personal freedom on the line for the sake of their moral beliefs.

  30. Let me make sure I’m getting it right- Marriot bad, protestors good. Marriot bad, protestors good. Marriot bad, protestors good. Got it.

  31. My vantage point privileged? Hardly. If you had read my posts carefully you would see a sympathy with the actual workers and an endorsement of some sort of minimum (i.e., "living") wage. And if you knew me in person, you might have seen some real economic poverty at one point.

    My only beef is with condescending upper middle class do-gooders who think they know everything and who therefore think they know what is good for others. I come from a poor farming community and have had to witness the social worker do-gooder Gestapo invade previously intact families etc. and impose their values on rural Americans just the same way Americans are accused worldwide of imposing their suburban, materialist values on the rest of the world. I daresay, these social workers did no good whatsoever.

    How much clearer can I be? Education is a double-edged sword, and too often it produces arrogant fools who lord it over people living traditional lives, including the lives people were leading in my hometown. While I value my education and wish similar benefits for others, I nevertheless understand that some uses of education, particularly in this kind of politics, have a destructive and retrograde effect.

    So, Romantic? No, just trying to let a few folks who read this site know that what they think is a good idea may not be so very welcome to their intended beneficiaries. Of course, I’m aware that I too risk speaking FOR others and thereby committing an act of imperialism or at least colonialism. But all along this here post-line, I’ve admitted all my faults and potential hypocrisies and idiosyncrasies.

    I just want the readers of this site to understand that those who are not educated or otherwise privileged are nevertheless not stupid. Though they may not be thoroughly schooled in the King’s English and may be rather unlettered in their speech, they are people with dignity that, yes, transcends the mere material pocketbook issue of wage rate and whether they can afford a pass to the country club. It is so very suburban-American to conflate dignity with wage rate. That’s not Romanticism. I can find some texts written some 1800 years prior to Blake and Byron that support me here.

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