What do you call a company that is antiunion, pays low wages, and treats its employees paternalistically? Progressive? Well...Yes. Marriott International Inc., the huge hotel chain, has struck a bargain with its low-skilled, low-wage workers that trades day care, English classes, and other social services for loyalty, enthusiasm, and a low turnover rate. Employee stock options are also part of the package.

This is not a bad deal for a group of mostly young, poorly educated workers that includes welfare mothers and recent immigrants with one goal--gaining a toehold on the ladder to upward mobility and providing a better life for their children.

It's not a bad deal for Marriott either. At $7.40 an hour, wages remain strongly competitive. And with the unemployment rate down sharply, the company's welfare-to-work training program is tapping a new labor pool. Critics say that Marriott is simply exploiting its workers. We think this is one instance where the self-interest of low-skilled, low-wage employees coincides with the self-interest of their employer.

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