Unite Here and Hyatt Hit Hiccups in Peace Process

By Bruce Vail

It's been a long road—Unite Here protesting Hyatt Hotel Corp in Chicago in 2009. (Jean Paul Holmes / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a long road—Unite Here protesting Hyatt Hotel Corp in Chicago in 2009. (Jean Paul Holmes / Wikimedia Commons

A widely heralded union peace agreement that would end a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels Corp and usher in a new era of better labor relations at the sprawling lodgings chain is hitting some potholes on the road to completion, but both sides are still expressing confidence in its ultimate success.

Announced July 1, Hyatt’s “national agreement” with the Unite Here union was advertised as the way to quickly end bitter fights over expired labor contracts at nine hotels in four different cities and to provide a smooth path forward for settling related disputes elsewhere. At the time, Unite Here President Donald Taylor said the contracts would be finalized over the next four to six weeks. After that, a second phase would begin in which several new organizing initiatives would go forward. Continue reading

A Good Day For Hotel Workers

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

UNITE HERE, the union of U.S. and Canadian hotel workers, and the Hyatt chain announced a wide-reaching agreement on Monday afternoon that will give Hyatt employees in currently non-union hotels across the nation the right to choose a union without having to face management opposition. In return, UNITE HERE announced it is lifting its global boycott of Hyatt hotels.

The agreement will go into effect when new union contracts for current members are ratified by UNITE HERE locals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Honolulu. The terms of those contracts were also agreed to in today’s settlement.

Over the past quarter-century, UNITE HERE has significantly raised living standards for its members in cities where most major hotels have union contracts. In New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas, hotel workers make more than $20-an-hour with employer-provided health benefit plans that have won national acclaim. The union is also known for its innovative contracts: In Las Vegas, the hotels fund and hire from a “Culinary Academy” that trains and certifies graduates for jobs ranging from fry cook to sommelier. In Los Angeles, since the 1990s, the hotels ensure that any employees deported by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement can regain their jobs if they return within two years.

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‘Hyatt Hurts’ Boycott Inflicts Pain on the Hotel Giant (Updated)

by Bruce Vail


Jeff Nelson (R), research director of UNITE HERE, with Charlotte Knox (L), a 25-year veteran housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore who told the City Council that working conditions have deteriorated.   (Photo courtesy of Bill Hughes/UNITE HERE)

Jeff Nelson (R), research director of UNITE HERE, with Charlotte Knox (L), a 25-year veteran housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore who told the City Council that working conditions have deteriorated. (Photo courtesy of Bill Hughes/UNITE HERE)

UPDATE: The full 14-member Baltimore City Council voted unanimously on March 18 to approve a resolution aimed at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore hotel, where a union organizing drive is currently underway. The resolution, passed in a voice vote, calls on Hyatt to sign a ‘Labor Peace Agreement’ to improve hiring practices and to protect the city’s financial interests as a union-sponsored global boycott goes forward. 

BALTIMORE—Hyatt Corp received an implicit vote of ‘no confidence’ from the Baltimore City Council late last week when the Labor Committee advanced a resolution to halt the hotel giant’s union suppression efforts.

The resolution pressures Hyatt to sign a ‘Labor Peace Agreement’ that would allow UNITE HERE Local 7’s organizing campaign at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore to go forward without obstruction from managers. Approved in a 3-0 vote on March 14, the resolution now heads to the full City Council, where it enjoys overwhelming support.

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Why the Battle Between Hotel Workers and Hyatt is Important

by Julius G. Getman

For over three years UNITE HERE, the union that represents hotel workers, and Hyatt Corp. have been engaged in a fierce escalating struggle. The union has recently called for a boycott of Hyatt.

The confrontation between Hyatt and UNITE HERE is part of the world wide struggle for basic human rights, particularly for immigrant workers. It is important that liberals, progressives, workers, and those who believe in economic fairness support the boycott and let Hyatt know of it.

Immigrant workers are the backbone of the hotel industry and when they do not have the backing of a union they are regularly and shamefully exploited. Hyatt, where the majority of workers are not unionized, is one of the most flagrant exploiters. Where its workers are not unionized the pay scale is low and the work load, particularly on room attendants is a constant danger to their health, both physical and emotional.

San Antonio, where Hyatt has two hotels on the famed Riverwalk, is an example. Its housekeepers are saddled with enormous work loads of up to 30 rooms per day roughly double the work load of unionized hotel workers in Las Vegas. Many of its older workers suffer from chronic back arm and neck injuries. Given the workload this is not surprising.

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December 15: Protest Hyatt Health Care Cuts

by Bob Roman

After more than two years of contract negotiations, crisis looms as Hyatt threatens to strip health insurance from 1500 Chicago workers and their families unless they give up their fight and abandon their boycotts. In so doing, Hyatt is forcing workers to choose between their families’ immediate medical needs and a fight for their long-term survival.

In negotiations, Hyatt has refused to budge on crucial demands to curb subcontracting and ease working conditions for housekeepers-demands met by Hilton and other hotel employers citywide. In response, Hyatt workers have stood up and made tough sacrifices by striking and calling for hotel boycotts.

UNITE HERE Local 1Protest Hyatt’s Health Care Cuts!Thursday, December 15, 3 PM to 4 PMHyatt International Headquarters, 71 S. Wacker Dr. Chicago
(Monroe & Wacker, NOT the Hyatt Regency) Continue reading

Housekeepers Charge Hyatt Fired Them for Taking Down Their Own Photos

By Josh Eidelson

Becoming a pin-up without your permission: another downside of workplace autocracy

Passing through the halls one day in September, Martha Reyes stopped to see why a group of her Hyatt co-workers stood laughing in front of a bulletin board. Looking closer, she saw photos of her head, and those of other housekeeping employees, pasted onto bodies in swimsuits. “I got really angry,” says Reyes, seeing her face on a figure that looked “almost naked, and a very different body that wasn’t mine. I felt very humiliated and embarrassed.” Martha’s sister Lorena was also included in the beach-themed display, which Hyatt management had posted over the weekend as part of Housekeeping Appreciation Week.

Martha Reyes took down her picture and her sister’s. A month later, alleging they spent too long on their lunch break, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara fired both of them.
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Archivists May Have to Cross Union Picket Lines to Attend Convention

by Marvin Williams

 When members of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) gather at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, August 22-27, 2011, to celebrate their 75th anniversary conference they may have to cross UNITE HERE picket lines to do so. The story of how this came about may be instructive to leaders of other professional associations as they plan annual meetings.

At the time they signed the contract making the Hyatt their convention site SAA was unaware of a labor dispute; there was no boycott or strike yet. But at the late January 2011 meeting of their Council, SAA’s elected governing body, they were aware of UNITE HERE Local 1’s boycott, heard representatives of both the hotel and union, and discussed the matter.

February 23 the Council unanimously voted that “SAA proceed with plans to convene the 2011 Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, August 22-27,” citing cost concerns and the difficulty of finding another suitable site as principal factors in their decision. “Given the significant cost of cancelling the current hotel contract, as well as concerns associated with finding an appropriate alternative venue, it is prudent for the Society to proceed as contracted for the 2011 Annual Meeting.”

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Investigation into Hyatt’s working conditions prompts Rabbis and Cantors to pledge to treat Hyatt as “not kosher”

Rabbis, Cantors and other faith leaders have released a report on  June 30, pledging to treat a number of Hyatt Hotels as “not kosher.” Open the Gates of Justice: A Clergy Report on Working Conditions at Hyatt Hotels describes a range of practice by Hyatt that clergy found “contrary to the religious traditions we uphold.” This report is the result of direct conversations by 21 faith leaders with dozens of Hyatt workers across the U.S.

Clergy in the report focus on four areas of concern with Hyatt’s business practices: subcontracting, housekeeper injuries, employer interference in organizing efforts by non-union Hyatt workers, and efforts by Hyatt to divide its employees. In accordance with Jewish legal tradition, Jewish clergy who produced this report identify Hyatt’s mistreatment of workers as Biblically prohibited oshek/oppression. At properties where workers have called for boycotts, these Jewish clergy pledge, “to treat the Hyatt as lo kasher/not kosher for events and celebrations until it treats its workers with justice.”

While “kosher” most often refers to choosing food that has rabbinic supervision or that follows Jewish dietary restrictions, it can also refer to practices or institutions that are “unfit” in an ethical sense. By claiming that Hyatt Hotels are not kosher, the rabbis are pronouncing the hotels “unfit” in an ethical and spiritual context and urging Jews to avoid contact with Hyatt.

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Hyatt files charges against San Francisco Hotel Union

By Carl Finamore

Susan Au Allen, CEO, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce and David Nadelman, General Manager, Grand Hyatt

Within hours of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s national holiday coming to an end on Monday, January 17, San Francisco Grand Hyatt management called an early morning Tuesday press conference to denounce the hotel union, Local 2, UNITE-HERE, for its boycott of ten city hotels and the devastating impact it had on the city’s economy.

Of course, Martin Luther King first gained national prominence for his championing of the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott which itself had an admittedly devastating impact on downtown businesses.

Nobody at the press conference noticed the irony.
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Hyatt Sweeps Dirty Safety Record Under the Rug

By Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

The Hyatt Corporation just posted quarterly profits that jumped six hundred percent with their stock prices climbing at around the same rate. Along with this jumping and climbing, the corporation has taken up running, as in running away from the worst safety record in the industry.

Hyatt ranks last in workplace injuries suffered by its housekeeping staff according to UNITE-HERE, the union representing over 100,000 workers in more than 900 hotels in North America. The union is not alone. It cites a peer-reviewed academic study published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine that places Hyatt dead last among the 50 hotels studied.

The abysmal record prompted Hyatt housekeepers at twelve hotels in eight different cities to simultaneously file injury complaints a few weeks ago with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The union cites public records submitted by the hotels that indicate a 50 percent higher injury rate than the rest of industry.

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