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The Hyatt hotel chain was last seen offering a weak apology for turning a heat lamp on workers picketing outside the Park Hyatt Chicago. But of course Hyatt hasn't addressed the reasons workers were picketing to begin with, and Thursday Unite Here announced a week-long strike against Hyatt in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu, citing Hyatt's abysmal injury rates, dangerous workloads and replacement of longtime housekeepers with low-paid temporary workers.
Contracts for striking workers in Chicago and San Francisco expired in August 2009, in Los Angeles in November 2009, and in Honolulu in June 2010. Workers in each of these cities have reached agreements with other major hotel employers, like Hilton and Starwood.

For its part, Hyatt claims to be doing the right thing:

“Unfortunately, this work stoppage could have been avoided if the local union had accepted the idential wage and benefits package they already accepted from Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental,” [a hotel manager] said. “It is unclear why the union is refusing to help give our associaties the benefit increases they have earned and deserved....We look forward to a quick resolution to this action so our associates can return to work as some of the best paid hotel associates in the city.”

Wages and benefits are an important part of any union contract, of course. But when you're talking about a hotel chain with some of the worst injury rates in the business, maybe, just maybe, wages and benefits aren't the only important thing. And according to Unite Here, the contracts signed by other hotel chains address working conditions and job outsourcing. Hyatt has not made a reasonable offer on those fronts.

Unionized Hyatt workers are also taking action to pressure Hyatt to adopt a less hostile stance toward workers organizing in non-union Hyatt locations and to get the right to stand with workers at other locations—this strike isn't just about what's happening in a few hotels, but across the entire chain. As Antonia Cortez, one of the striking workers, says,

I've been cleaning rooms for Hyatt for 35 years. They keep adding weight to the beds and the job is getting harder and harder. I have chronic pain in my shoulders and elbows from performing the same difficult task over and over. This job has damaged my body, and I clean just 14 rooms a day. In some cities, Hyatt makes housekeepers clean 30 rooms in one day! I'm on strike because I want the right to take action for all Hyatt housekeepers, no matter where they work. We all work for the same company. We should all have the right to stand up for each other. [Emphasis added]

In addition to the strike, Unite Here has called a boycott of some Hyatt hotels.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 11:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for keeping us up to speed on these stories (4+ / 0-)

    Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. ~ Al Gore

    by Lefty Coaster on Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 11:28:59 AM PDT

  •  If this chain has the worst injury rates (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, chimpy, Quasimodal

    in the business, that indicates there is something wrong. No one should have to go to work where there is a high probability of injury (unless of course they are being very well compensated for taking on the risk of injury and they are fully aware of all the implications)

    Cleaning rooms should not be a high-risk, injury prone job. That it is injury prone in this instance, simply means that people are being pushed too hard, too fast, for too long without a break. That is just unacceptable. Sounds like third-world-country working conditions to me.

     

  •  I worked in the industry for a few years (0+ / 0-)

    and from my experience they are some of the cheapest bastards out there. Two hotels (big chains) denied me my insurance after I was there long enough to qualify both times because of a "bureaucratic error". Finally got it at the first place, the second place I quit. Both hotels didn't give any kind of break on my 8 hour shift, not even for 15 minutes. Had to be on my feet the whole time. The last place wouldn't let me take my vacation after I qualified despite having enough people to fill in.

    They also tried to write up my schedule so that I never got overtime despite the increased hours and no days off. I forget how they tried to pull that off. Didn't work.

    Having filled in a couple of times for housekeepers who were sick I can tell you that its very hard work. They deserve everything they earn and then some.

  •  Need some relevant details here (0+ / 0-)

    This posting tells us almost nothing about the wages and working conditions of the hotel workers.

     

    •  Details at the link (0+ / 0-)
      Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry. Hyatt has replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers and imposed dangerous workloads on those housekeepers who remain. In July, Hyatt turned heat lamps on striking workers in Chicago during a brutal heat wave. In Boston, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with temporary workers earning minimum wage.

      Most notably, Hyatt has sparked controversy for its abuse of housekeepers. Injury rates for Hyatt housekeepers are high, and academic studies have shown that housekeeping can lead to debilitating injuries. Housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels. To date, OSHA or its state counterparts have issued 15 citations against the Hyatt at ten hotels and 3 citations against one of the Hyatt’s housekeeping subcontractors at one of those hotels, alleging violations of safety regulations that protect housekeepers and other employees. The agencies have proposed fines totaling $95,405.00 between Hyatt and its subcontractor.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

      by David Kaib on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:15:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For our 25th anniversary, my wife and I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nimbus, tmo

    spent a few days in a classy Hyatt in California and spent more money than we probably should have (but what the heck, it was our special getaway).

    Believe me, Hyatt will hear how disappointed I am in them. How workers are treated means a great deal to me.

    O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

    by Wildthumb on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 06:51:59 PM PDT

  •  How DARE they fight for the right to collective (3+ / 0-)

    bargaining!  Don't they know we're all supposed to meekly allow large corporations to divide us into small enough groups that we can be forced into accepting the lowest possible wages and worst possible working conditions?  Our Republican governors and state legislators have made that perfectly plain...

  •  Which side ARE you on? (4+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:04:13 PM PDT

    •  Brings a tear to my eye. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril

      I grow from humble stock...translate that as worker stock.

      My dad early in my life told me that poor people have poor ways.  He was right.  He was a brave Sgt. of WWII who came home.  I spent my early years in a project.  Wasn't so bad; actually there was a tremendous sense of community.  As a child growing up, I saw how my dad and mom stood with the union and eschewed the...I won't even attempt to villify them, they are way below my villification...scabs.

      Ultimately, mom and dad were able to buy a home and rear us kids.  They died poor, but they died with a hope in their hearts that their children would do better.

      Well, mom and dad were right. Their children have become prosperous professionals and, though I have a withdrawal card from the IAM/UAW that I am very proud of, I have grown beyond the physical need for a union for myself.

      Through about 80% luck, I have become relatively wealthy, but I still remember no food in the house the day before payday, strikes, scabs and scrabbling.  I have worked from a very early age...as long as I can remember.  My fondest childhood memory is helping mom dig potatoes frome the garden...I wasn't much help, I simply delighted in grabbing the potatoes that mom turned over with the 'tater fork.

      I will never forget my working class roots.  I will always be a union supporter.

      May god bless our American workers.  May god damn the chickenshit Repubs and corporate ruling class who would again seek to enslave them.

      Which side are you on boys?...and girls.

      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

      by Randolph the red nosed reindeer on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:57:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ignoramus Rand Paul ... (1+ / 0-)

        on Harlan County:

        Rand Paul and I are trying to remember why Harlan, Kentucky, might be famous. That's where Paul is driving me, on a coiling back road through the low green mountains of the state's southeastern corner, in his big black GMC Yukon festooned with RON PAUL 2008 and RAND PAUL 2010 stickers. Something about Harlan has lodged itself in my brain the way a shard of barbecue gets stuck in one's teeth, and I've asked Paul for help. "I don't know," he says in an elusive accent that's not quite southern and not quite not-southern. The town of Hazard is nearby, he notes: "It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard."

        Read More http://www.details.com/...

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:37:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The ( Penny ...Pinching) Pritzgers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux

    Penny was controlling the finances of the Obama campaign and she is on the illustrious jobs commission along with DICK Immelt who somehow managed to keep his job, despite being responsible for a 39B dollar loss.

    Penney has a reported net worth of 1.8-2.8B. She also is no stranger to sub-prime mortgages with her involvement with Superior Bank that was finally seized by the FDIC. The Pritzgers agreed to pay a 460M fine over 15 years as in inflate the debt away.

    She was managing all the families 1000s of trusts that they used to avoid estate taxes on 15B. She along with another member was sued by family members in 2005 and ultimately the Fortune was split 11 ways.

    The Hyatt Chain has a relatively long history of worker abuse. It figures she was one of the people behind the curtain manipulating the Obama campaign and is still a major player. Ain't that great?

  •  Take Antonia Cortez's Plight To Heart. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, swampyankee

    Not only is hotel housekeeping work drudgery, repetitive, and taxing on backs, hands and fingers, housekeepers are pressured by their bosses through quotas. These workers have strict rules on how many rooms they must clean per shift. There is no time to rest, or to slow down, without risking your job.

    As a consumer I do the following:

    * I tip the housekeepers well. It burns me up to see a guest tip a young blond greeter $5 upon arrival and again on departure for opening his car door, and not think about tipping the worker who cleaned his toilet and shower and made his bed.
    * I avoid having my room totally done, unless I have to. No toilet or shower cleaning. No vacuuming. No bed making. I take care of what I need in that regard. Only pick up, arrange and make the room neat. This give the housekeeper a breather.

    "I never met a man I didn't like." Will Rogers - American Redneck

    by chuco35 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:11:27 PM PDT

  •  Years ago, the old BuyBlue.org site ... (0+ / 0-)

    ..... listed Hyatt as a Blue company - among the better of the major hotel chains - or, at least back in 2004-2005 they were.

       Does anyone know what went wrong with Hyatt; did they get a new CEO, etc. - or were the political contributions merely an aberration?

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:21:52 PM PDT

  •  Is Hyatt as bad as Hilton hotels? (0+ / 0-)

    Probably they are. Just awful, as far as customer treatment. It's like being in jail, almost.

  •  The Obama Middle Class Memorial (0+ / 0-)

    We need a President Obama Monument right next to MLK monument.  Because no matter what happens from here on out, even if he loses his second term, he's won.
     

    We need to be Proud of President Obama, for what he lacks in progressive agenda, he does hold up in middle class values.

    I realize this may not be the best place to post this statement.  Perhaps an open thread would have been better.  BUT

    No matter how you slice it, President Obama is a great leader.

    •  Workers around the country (0+ / 0-)

      are taking a brave stand, risking a great deal, with little to no support from the powers that be, and you want to talk about something else.

      Yes, any way you slice it, this was not the best place to post this statement.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

      by David Kaib on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:59:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We must have balance between labor and capital (0+ / 0-)

    The pendulum has swung far too much towards the captial/fat cat side.  It is time for labor to stand up and force the pendulum back towards equity.

    Go labor unions.  Go Hyatt worker bees.  Think of Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seger.  They had it right.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by Randolph the red nosed reindeer on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:43:27 PM PDT

    •  we need some NEW "ism" cuz the old ones (0+ / 0-)

      are dead.

      the corpoRAT-ism we currently slave under is just another version of the 6 or 8000 year old aristocracy -

      East India Company, Standard Oil, Fascism is all its colors ... they're ALL just a new flavor of an old game ---

      we NATURALLY specialize to be able to trade the surplus

      (yeah we ALL need to live on less! - that does NOT mean I want to grow my own toothbrushes or only eat f'king tofu and outmeal)

      we set up communities and rules and markets, AND then the rulers in these institutions take on a life of their own and start taking from our lives to make their lives permanently cushy,

      we come up with all these goody goody ideas founded upon people being nice to each other instead of shits to each other, and the goody goody ideas end up morphing into institutions of goody goodies who couldn't run a fucking hot dog stand but can keep their institution alive, coincidentally leaving some good in their wake, because ANY system relying on people to be good and not lazy and not selfish is a system which is going to fail.

      We gotta start figuring out the costs of NOT helping each other, the rub it in your ignorant selfish stupid face costs, and then rub those costs in peoples faces.

      It costs me $1.77 an hour to fund social security and medicare.

      The Cost of not having those programs - how about every time I go to the super market or gas station or outside my door, I do NOT have hordes of crippled hacking sniffling starving beggars chasing me for a crust of bread or a spare grape!

      Why don't we take 1 of the states in the union, and let ALL the selfish fucks who do NOT want to pay medicare and social security or any goddam thing - let all them selfish fucks move there WITH ALL THEIR GODDAM FREE LOADING FAMILIES!

      I'm tired of being nice to stupid assholes - it is OBVIOUSLY a complete waste of time. Let them ALL build their own roads wherever they want and brew gasoline wherever they want and purify plutonium wherever they want and let their kids be fucking ignorant and let their old folks fucking starve - all in their ignorant libertarian bliss!!  

      So, which state are we going to right off as Mad Max-ism?

      Oh yeah - did I mention let's get real-ism?

      let's reward people for doing social good and they'll do more social good!

      I. Hey mr/s bureaucrat - you just figured out how to do some administrivia thing in the USA of school systems which will unemploy 5000 paper pushers -

      1. ) YOU get 10% of the savings, up to 100 times median income.

      a. ) you want to quit & live on the interest in the sun - bye!

      b.) you want to quit & buy guns and blow things up and buy diamonds ... when you're broke, you gotta go back to work!

      2. ) all the unemployed people get 2 years of training to transition -

      a.) HOPEfully you'll stick with the schools cuz you already know a lot & bring a lot to the table, but, ya gotta get a new job!

      b.) maybe this is that ticket out you've been aching for hoping for ... good luck!

      II. let's have education which trains people to be effective in the community, regardless of whether they're just in charge of their garbage truck, a crew of trucks, a city of trucks, a nation of trucks, or just a teacher, or in charge of a school full of teachers, or a city of school teachers ...

      A. let's be REAL about job skills - being an outstanding manager of the resources of a school district with 8000 employees and 50,000 kids demands more compensation from the community than being 1 of the 8000 ----
      HOWEVER - you ain't 8000 or 800 or 80 times more important - your shit still stinks.

      i.) IF you ain't better than others at what you do, THEN why the fuck is anyone paying you to do what you do?

      ...

      I got some more & I'm tired.

      rmm.

      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I drove by one of the strike demonstrations on (0+ / 0-)

    the way home from work. It was a big crowd with lots of energy. I wish them luck.

  •  14 rooms a day. (0+ / 0-)

    Standard 8 hour day is about 34 minutes per room.  30 rooms per day is about 16 minutes per room.
    Punishing.  
    I was a maid at a resort when I was young.  It was impossible. My fingertips cracked and bled.  I could never keep the pace.
    These maids are not paid very much.

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