Have whistles, bullhorns and protestors disturbed your sleep with a Hyatt Hotel strike this past week?
Last week Monday, July 23 a campaign for a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels was launched and made the news in hundreds of online sources and regional print papers.
On July 23, Hyatt workers and allies launched a global boycott of Hyatt hotels. Leaders from the AFL-CIO, NFL Players Association, the National Organization for Women, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Netroots Nation, Interfaith Worker Justice and other organizations joined Hyatt housekeepers at a press conference in Washington, D.C., to formally launch the boycott. The launch marks the largest escalation to date in an ongoing campaign for basic worker rights.
Those who spoke at the press conference confirmed their organizations will stand in solidarity with Hyatt’s workers and not patronize the company’s facilities.
The Hyatt Hotels boycott centers around the union UniteHere which is the major union organization that represents unionized housekeepers and service workers in U.S. hotels.
Hyatt Hotels responded with a July 23 full-page Washington Post message:
Standing Up for the Rights of Our Hyatt Associates
A deep respect for our associates – the people who provide hospitality to Hyatt guests around the world – is central to our culture and fundamental to our success. We’re very proud that Hyatt hotels are great places to work. And that’s not just our opinion:
— We received the 2012 Gallup Great Workplace Award based on independent surveys of our associates, including our housekeepers, whose average tenure with us is more than 12 years.
— Media from Baltimore and Chicago to Denver and San Francisco have honored Hyatt on their Best Places to Work lists.
— We have been honored by the Human Rights Campaign, Hispanic Business magazine and the NAACP for our support of our LGBT, Hispanic and African- American employees.
— CareerBliss recently named Hyatt the happiest hotel company.
By any measure, Hyatt maintains an outstanding safety record, provides industry-leading wage and benefits packages, and is a recognized leader in promoting a diverse workforce.
So why is the leadership of the union UniteHere waging a campaign against our company?
UniteHere’s claims are an attempt to boost membership by pressuring Hyatt to allow the union to organize more hotels through the intimidating “card-check” process. We believe our associates have the right to a secret ballot. Last year, we petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold supervised secret-ballot elections at our non-union hotels. The union flatly refused to participate.
To get their way, UniteHere leaders have denied members they already have – our associates in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Waikiki – the right to vote on contracts containing wage increases that are the same as those the union has accepted at Hilton and Starwood hotels. The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago recently found that UniteHere has bargained in bad faith and made illegal demands during contract negotiations.
While union leaders direct precious members’ dues toward publicity stunts, we stand ready to pay the raises our associates should have gotten long ago, which will be delivered upon completion of new contracts. And now, the call for a global boycott of Hyatt will have a direct and negative impact on our associates, who depend on business in their hotels for their livelihoods.
Our union associates are being used in the union leaders’ self-serving campaign to increase union membership and dues. It is time for UniteHere leaders to do the right thing for the members and families they’re paid to represent by calling for a contract vote.
Two comments on the Hyatt Hotels message:
1. Card Check for unionization was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969. Wikipedia has a good Card Check articlethat explains the reasoning behind support and opposition to Card Check for creating a union workforce.
2. Hyatt Hotels claims UniteHere refused to let members vote on a wage increase employees of other hotel chains approved. From what I have read in the UniteHere union articles, the main issues against Hyatt Hotels are working conditions and subcontracting hotel jobs. Subcontracting is a major factor for UniteHere since these workers are not employees of Hyatt Hotels.
Here is what UniteHere claims are the problems with Hyatt Hotels:
Top Four Reasons to Boycott Hyatt
- Hyatt’s subcontracting is destroying good jobs and exploiting immigrant workers.
- Hyatt housekeepers suffer abuse.
- Hyatt has refused to remain neutral as non-union hotel workers organize.
- Hyatt turned heat lamps on striking workers during a brutal heat wave.
1. Hyatt’s subcontracting is destroying good jobs and exploiting immigrant workers.
Rabbi Barbara Penzner addresses a Hyatt 100 vigil in Boston.
On August 31, 2009, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels in the Boston area, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with workers from a temporary agency. Many of the fired workers report that Hyatt required that they train their replacements. Their replacements now earn minimum wage and clean as many as 30 rooms a day. Few if any of the subcontracted workers receive health insurance.
The story of the “Hyatt 100” represents just one dramatic example of how Hyatt’s aggressive use of subcontractors is destroying good jobs. Using subcontractors allows Hyatt to pay housekeepers poverty wages while evading legal liability for unsafe working conditions or hiring undocumented workers.
On January 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, subcontracted hotel workers filed a federal wage and hour violations lawsuit against the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, the subcontractor Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS), and nine other major hotels. Ten days later, Hyatt announced that it had cut its contract with HSS, putting in jeopardy the jobs of 20 hotel workers.
2. Hyatt housekeepers suffer abuse.
Hotel housekeepers are the invisible backbone of the hotel industry. The grittier aspects of their jobs—the work of scrubbing toilets, changing sheets, and encountering guests alone behind closed doors—are the hidden foundation on which an atmosphere of luxury and comfort are built.
Today, Hyatt housekeepers from across North America are stepping out of the shadows to demand an end to the abuses they face at work. Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those who remain.
In a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine examining a total of 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company.
Over time, cleaning hotel rooms can lead to debilitating injuries that in some instances require surgical intervention, physical therapy, or lead to permanent disability, like the loss of the full use of one’s arm. Lifting mattresses that can weigh over 100 pounds, pushing heavy carts across carpeted hallways, bending up and down to clean floors and make beds, and climbing to clean high surfaces all take a physical toll.
Housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels. This leaves room attendants as little as 15 minutes to clean a room.
Hyatt Housekeepers have filed health and safety complaints with the U.S. government. In 2011, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA )or its state counterparts issued 18 citations against the Hyatt at 11 hotels and 3 citations against one of the Hyatt’s housekeeping subcontractors at one of those hotels. The citations alleged violations of various safety regulations that protect housekeepers and other employees and proposed over $100,000 in penalties.
Hotel housekeepers frequently clean bathroom floors on their hands and knees, a degrading practice that is tolerated by too many hotel employers. This practice, combined with the failure to provide fitted sheets like those used in homes, has led to an unacceptable rate of back and other work-related injuries. In 2011, Hyatt took the lead in opposing a bill to end “on our knees” bathroom cleaning and backbreaking bed-making practices.
In late September, the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, California, fired two housekeepers, sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes. These middle aged mothers were featured on a digitally-created collage of bikini-clad “Hyatt Housekeepers” on a bulletin board at work. Humiliated by their depiction, Marta removed her image and that of her sister. Soon after, both sisters were fired. The sisters have filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In subsequent sexual harassment trainings, management denied that it had objectified women’s bodies or engaged in any damaging act.
3. Hyatt has refused to remain neutral as non-union hotel workers organize.
In Indianapolis, San Antonio, Scottsdale, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Long Beach, workers have called on Hyatt to accept a fair process to enable them to choose whether or not to join a union without employer intimidation. Hyatt has refused. Workers in non-union facilities complain of disrespect from their management, low wages, unaffordable health insurance and high room quotas for room cleaners.
4. Hyatt turned heat lamps on striking workers in Chicago during a brutal heat wave.
On July 21, 2011, heat lamps in the awning above the Park Hyatt Chicago front entrance were turned on striking workers the morning a strike began. Heat lamps were left on for about an hour and turned off shortly after reports about them surfaced in the press. That day, an excessive heat warning was issued by the National Weather Service, with heat index readings climbing above 100 degrees in downtown Chicago.
Hyatt released a public statement the following day, admitting that a manager was responsible for turning heat lamps on striking workers.
- Hotel Workers Rising
- Breaking the Silence: Housekeepers Speak Out
- Open the Gates of Justice: A Clergy Report on Working Conditions at Hyatt Hotels
- Huffington Post: “Poor and Poorer: As Hotels Outsource Jobs, Workers Lose Hold On Living Wage”
In my research of the Hyatt Boycott I found that nearly all the hotel trade journals and mainstream newspapers simply posted the Hyatt Hotels press release with no analytical or investigative insight.
The pro-boycott articles all mention the same points listed in the Hyatt Hurts message.
Regardless if you support Hyatt Hotels or UniteHere, there is a chance you will come across a protest if you are staying in a major city at a Hyatt Hotel.
Here is a list of several hotels UniteHere states are exempt from the global boycott.
The call to “Boycott Hyatt” does not include the
- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa and Grand Hyatt Kauai, which have current collective bargaining agreements with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU),
and does not include the following Hyatt hotels with current UNITEHERE! collective bargaining agreements:
- Grand Hyatt New York,
- Andaz 5th Avenue,
- Andaz Wall Street,
- Hyatt Highlands Inn Hotel (Highway One Monterey),
- Hyatt Regency Monterey,
- Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing,
- Hyatt Regency Atlanta,
- Hyatt Regency Dearborn (Michigan),
- Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center,
- Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina,
- Hyatt Regency on King (Toronto),
- Park Hyatt Toronto,
- Hyatt Regency Vancouver,
- Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill,
- Hyatt Rosemont
- Hyatt Place San Jose.
Is $3 per day really too much to spend on your housekeeper?
Reading all these articles about housekeepers reminded me of the long-standing poll on the front page of the blog One Mile at a Time.
When staying at a hotel, do you tip housekeeping?
- Yes 47% = 4,476 votes
- No 34% = 3,293 votes
- Only for Special Requests 19% = 1,831 votes
Total Voters = 9,601
Hyatt Hotels website: http://www.hyattworkplace.com/
UniteHere website: http://www.hyatthurts.org
Loyalty Traveler original post link: http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2012/07/31/whats-up-with-the-global-hyatt-boycott/
Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.