Skip to main content

Hyatt vigil
Candlelight vigil at the Hyatt Regency Boston, 2009.
(Hotel Workers Rising)
One of the very scummiest things Hyatt hotels has done to its workers—and there are more than a few—took place in Boston and Cambridge in 2009, to huge public outcry. Three Hyatts abruptly laid off their longtime housekeeping staff and outsourced their jobs to a subcontractor employing low-wage temps. To add insult to injury, the housekeepers had actually trained their replacements, immediately before learning they were being fired and replaced.

At the time, the manager of another hotel suggested this was a bad move from a customer service perspective:

“We would not [outsource housekeepers] because we want to tightly control the guest experience here and the cleanliness,’’ said managing director Jim Treadway.

Now, the city of Cambridge is taking the same view, and is taking steps to put some force behind it. In a vote more than a year in the making, the Cambridge License Commission has voted to impose a regulation prohibiting hotels from contracting out certain hotel jobs, specifically the ones that have access to guest rooms—a category that should include housekeepers. This move comes not from a labor standpoint but from a guest safety and room cleanliness one.

Unite Here Local 26 President Brian Lang calls the step "fantastic," citing both its labor and consumer aspects. "From our standpoint as an organization that represents hotel workers, and has seen contracting out like Hyatt did, in which folks who have worked 20-plus years get kicked to the curb," he says, "preventing something like that is not just good for workers themselves, but for the community."

At the same time, Lang says, of the consumer benefits of the move,

My understanding is that the City of Cambridge...determined that the best way to provide good service and a safe environment is to make sure that the organizations that have the licenses to run hotels also have the responsibility for the workers who are in the rooms.

Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker, who originated the motion from the City Council to the License Commission recommending this move, notes that both Cambridge and the state of Massachusetts will not do business with Hyatt as a result of the firings, and says of the ban on outsourcing of specific jobs that:

On the one hand, it’s a private company, but a license is a privilege and they can’t operate without a license. One hotel made a decision about how to increase profits this way, and it was at the expense of the health and well-being of guests coming into our city.

But, Decker points out, the new regulation "is an affirmation of the majority of hotels that don’t do this."

The timeline on the License Commission finalizing and imposing this regulation is unclear, according to Decker. But it will be interesting to see how the Hyatt responds, to say the least.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 06:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site