Noise Associated with Boston Hotel Strike Leads to Complaints

It’s been more than a month since 1,500 Marriott Hotel workers walked off the job at seven hotels around Boston. As they make their voices heard in picket lines, some who live near the protests claim the noise the workers are making is crossing a line, and they are taking the city to court.

The strike began on Oct. 3 when the workers walked out demanding a living wage. Since then, members of Unite Here Local 26 have been picketing outside the hotels using drums, whistles and other noise-amplifying devices. The hotels include Aloft Boston Seaport District, the Element Boston Seaport District, the Ritz-Carlton Boston, the Sheraton Boston, the W Hotel Boston, the Westin Boston Waterfront and the Westin Copley Place.

"Seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I can't think. I can't do anything," said a resident of Trinity Place, which is across the street from one of the protests.

Near the hotels are a number of residential buildings with property owners who argue the sound often exceeds 70 decibels, which they said is in violation of the city's noise ordinance. The Boston Municipal Code sets the regulations and states that anything louder than 70 decibels is considered too many at any time, except for permitted construction.

"We have had residents with meters averaging over 85 decibels, sometimes as high as 120 decibels, which is the equivalent of a jet engine taking off," said attorney Ed Allcock, who filed an injunction against the city of Boston on behalf of three Millennium Place condo associations. He said it was filed after the residents tried repeatedly to contact the city for help, but got nowhere. They live in buildings located right across from the strike outside the Ritz-Carlton.

"Many of our residents have been unable to sleep and have had hearing problems," Allcock said. "We just want the city to do its job and enforce the ordinance."

NBC10 Boston reached out to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's office. A spokesperson said they cannot comment pending the litigation.

During the hearing on the injunction, the city's attorneys told the judge the claim should be taken up with the hotel workers' union and the court is not the right forum to fix it.

Both sides are now awaiting the decision of the judge, who has taken their arguments under advisement.

The president of Unite Here Local 26, Brian Lang, said the group has no plans to quiet down. He added that those upset with the noise should call the hotel chain and help them end their fight. As of Friday, Lang said they were back at the negotiating table and making progress.

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