Members of a local labor union have voted to authorize a strike at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp as part of national drive to resolve disputes with Marriott International which operates the hotel.

In addition to wages and benefits, the disputes involve a variety of issues including a program that reduces the number of hours housekeeping workers are given and the effect of automation in the industry, said Rick Bates, a research analyst with Unite Here Local 30, which represents 162 Westin San Diego Gaslamp workers.

The vote authorizes the union to start a strike an any time, although it hasn't yet.

Marriott hotels were singled out for the labor union action because it is the biggest hotel chain globally and its actions would likely set the standard for others to follow, Bates said.

“It’s not that Marriott is the worst hotel (chain) in the world, they’re just the largest,” Bates said. “They’re more than twice as big as the next biggest, which is Hilton.”

Bates said labor unions across the country are authorizing strike votes at hotels where their contracts have expired.

“In the process of negotiating these contracts, we’re still pretty far apart on the key issues,” Bates said.

In Marriott’s case, they include the chain’s “Green Choice” program under which guests can opt out of housekeeping services to gain points in the chain’s Marriott Rewards program.

“What that does is it creates less of a need for housekeepers to be working,” Bates said.

The result is that housekeepers have to make do with less or find a second job, he said.