He looks like Central Casting’s idea of an organizer. Domenic Mario Bozzotto, president of Local 26, is bearded, olive-skinned, tieless, with the bravura and streetcorner patois of a Damon Runyon tough guy, but also the sweetness of a parish priest. At this moment, on a Tuesday morning in December, he has brazenly commandeered a conference room in Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel, where his negotiating committee of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) will shortly commence the fifth session of contract talks, now deadlocked against a strike deadline of Saturday midnight.
When the management team walks into the room, at eleven sharp, the workers will already have been there for two hours, psyching themselves into a unified force, signaling occupancy of the turf. Bozzotto’s committee, eighty strong, is a mosaic of races and colors, reflecting the Haitians, Cambodians, Salvadorans, Filipinos, first- and second-generation Irish and Italian-Americans, blacks, and WASPs who serve the meals, change the linen, wash the dishes, and pamper the guests in Boston’s nine unionized luxury hotels. Local 26 routinely prints leaflets in Spanish, Creole French, Vietnamese, Cambodian—and English....
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