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Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Marriott International will not immediately force a half-dozen employees who hold down jobs at two different Marriott properties to give up one of those sources of income.
At a Friday meeting that brought together the employees, Marriott and Industrial Development Commission officials, Acting Labor Commissioner John Sheen and Steelworkers President Luis "Tito" Morales, it was agreed that Friday's deadline for each employee to choose which job to keep and which to give up would be extended 30 days while the parties try to hammer out a solution that won't deprive the workers of a substantial chunk of their income.
At issue is a stipulation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that according to Marriott attorney Charles Engeman makes the company a "joint employer" if workers
hold down full-time jobs at different hotels under its management, entitling those employees to overtime pay for more than 40 total hours a week.
Since 1997, Marriott has managed the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort. In March, the company purchased Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resorts from Prime Hospitality Corp.
A dozen employees who work at both hotels received letters in June giving them six months in which to decide which job to give up and to find another second job if necessary. During those six months, Engeman said, the employees were paid overtime.
According to Joseph Edwards, who works in security at Frenchman's Reef and as a waiter at the Renaissance, five employees have already left a job. But those attending Friday's meeting at the Labor Department made it clear that a second job was indeed a necessity.
""We just want to be able to work," he said. "We have families, mortgages, we need to send our children to college, and we can't do that with just one job."
Edwards pointed out that these were "top" employees as well, regularly garnering awards from Marriott.
General managers David Yamada of the Renaissance and Jayne Hillner of Frenchman's Reef were eager to find a solution, and Sheen called for a meeting before Jan. 15 between Marriott, the union, Labor and IDC to find a way to make a "special exemption" from the FLSA regulations for certain hotel employees.
But employees such as Edwards were apprehensive about what might happen in the future if Marriott buys or agrees to manage more St. Thomas hotels.
"What will happen if half of the people in this industry won't be able to work a second job anywhere?" he asked.
Also touched upon in the meeting was how such employment practices affected Marriott's eligibility for IDC benefits, but the issue was not at the forefront of the discussion.

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