Hotel union angry after Edmonton Oilers cross picket line at Boston Ritz-Carlton

The Edmonton Oilers were greeted with picket signs and workers yelling chants of “scab” as they crossed a picket line to get inside their Boston hotel Sunday afternoon. About 1,500 Boston-area hotel workers have been on strike since last Wednesday.

'There’s no other word for them except scabs'

Members of the Edmonton Oilers staff cross the picket line to get into Ritz-Carlton in Boston. (Unite Here Local 26)

The Edmonton Oilers were greeted with picket signs and chants of "scab" as they crossed a picket line to enter their Boston hotel Sunday afternoon.

Several hundred Marriott International employees from the Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel in downtown Boston have been on strike since last Wednesday, after negotiations between the union and Marriott broke down.

The Oilers are in Boston for a game against the Bruins on Thursday.


Brian Lang is the president of Unite Here Local 26, which represents 1,500 Boston-area hotel workers currently on strike at seven different Marriott properties in the city. He said the union is upset the team crossed the picket line.

"It's very disappointing, and there's no other word for them [Oilers] except 'scabs,' and we make it clear to them that we're not happy," Lang said.

"We hope that it's a learning experience for them and that they re-evaluate what they have done."

Lang said after watching some of the Oilers cross the picket line, he believes none of them seemed proud about doing it. 

"I hope we can get through to them. They certainly make enough money to go to another hotel that isn't on strike."

The hotel workers are fighting for better wages, improved hours and healthcare, among other demands. They're urging professional sports teams to make other hotel arrangements in Boston and other cities while strike action is taking place.

The National Hockey League Players' Association, the union that represents NHL players, has not responded to a request for comment from CBC News. 

The Oilers also declined to comment. A spokesperson said the team "doesn't want to get involved in the matter between the hotel and its union workers."

But Lang said it's too late, the team already has become involved.

"They did get inbetween our dispute, they sided with Marriott," he said. "Whenever you cross a picket line, you're siding with the employer."

The New York Yankees crossed the same picket line Thursday, and were met with chants of "Don't check in Check Out."

There could be more picket-line controversy for sports teams in the coming weeks. There are 7,700 unionized hotel workers on strike in other major American markets for Marriott, including Detroit, Maui, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego. 

Marriott officials declined to comment on the strike.


Min Dhariwal


Min has worked all over the province in nearly 25 years of reporting, covering countless breaking stories for CBC. He's also reported from the Olympics, Stanley Cup Finals and the Grey Cup. Email: min.dhariwal@cbc.ca