Union Fight at Lanham Hotel 1974
Workers at the Sheraton Lanham Hotel went on strike January 9, 1974 to obtain a first contract as members of Hotel Worker Union Local 75. The union had won a representation election in 1973 but had been unable to negotiate a first contract.

The strike was seen as important for both workers and owners because it was the first hotel in the suburban Washington area to be organized by a union at a time when hotel facilities were rapidly expanding outside the downtown core.

The hotel hired a private security firm called Chamberlain Protective Services which workers charged engaged in an unprovoked beating of two striking workers when they attempted to pick up their checks January 11.

To support the strikers, On The Move newspaper organized the Sheraton Solidarity Group which staged mass pickets and held an International Women’s Day rally in support of the union.

A number of groups cancelled their events, but others including the University of Maryland, the local Republican Party and the president of the Prince Georges County Education Association (NEA) crossed the picket lines.

The workers were victorious March 28 when a new contract was reached. However when the first contract expired two years later, the Sheraton Management refused to bargain with the union. The union launched a boycott and the AFL-CIO urged the public to stay away from the hotel.

Many prominent County Democrats including County Executive Winfield Kelly, Governor Harry Hughes and state Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller crossed picket lines while others such as Paris Glendenning, Steny Hoyer and Prince George’s Council President Gerard McDonough refused,

The boycott ultimately ended in defeat for the union and the hotel is now unorganized. The challenge of organizing workers in suburban hotels continues as the Crystal City Hilton and Sheraton remain under boycott for their refusal to bargain. The only suburban hotels organized in the Washington, DC area are the Gaylord at National Harbor, Sheraton Premier at Tysons, McLean Hilton at Tysons, Embassy Suites Crystal City and Doubletree Crystal City.

The Sheraton Lanham was located at the intersection of 85th Avenue and Route 450 in New Carrollton, MD. It has gone through many changes of ownership through the years and was most recently operated as a Four Points Sheraton. Hotel Workers Local 75 was merged with several other locals into Hotel & Restaurant Employees Local 25, a UNITE-HERE affiliate.

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