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Reyes sisters
Lorena and Martha Reyes (Unite Here)

Give them credit for this: Hyatt hotels are creative in their efforts to abuse and humiliate their staff. Not content with just having higher injury rates than other major hotel chains, they do stuff like turning heat lamps on picketing workers during a heat wave, as happened in Chicago last summer. Or, as at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, they go for personal, sexualized humiliation of their staff in the name of "appreciation."

In late September, for "Housekeeping Appreciation Week," the Santa Clara Hyatt posted a collage of photos of the faces of hotel housekeeping staff photoshopped onto bikini-clad cartoon bodies. Sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes were upset by this. Lorena tells Jezebel's Anna North that:

[T]he photos were "extremely humiliating and shameful for me," adding that she has never worn a bikini, even at home. Her sister tore the photos down. Later, the coworker who had posted them, in the presence of a manager, insisted that she put them back up. She refused.

On Oct. 12, hotel managers told both Reyes sisters they were being investigated for violations of break policy. Two days later, they were fired. Management accused them of "stealing company time" by taking overly long breaks, but Lorena says, "that was a lie." She says employees don't always have time to take their mandated breaks during the day, so they sometimes take extra time at lunch. UniteHere, the union representing the sisters, has no knowledge of any other employees cited for such behavior before.

A workplace that considers such pictures an appropriate form of "appreciation" is bad enough; ordering people to put back up pictures of themselves that they find offensive and humiliating is worse. (You can see the offending pictures at the Jezebel link; I've elected not to replicate them here.) When that's followed by official action against them and then firing for a common practice for which other workers aren't disciplined, let alone fired, that's when you get what's happened now: The Reyes sisters are filing a retaliation complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Unite Here held a protest outside the Santa Clara Hyatt today with community and religious leaders.

Hyatt has made its contempt for its housekeepers and other workers clear many times, through low pay and dangerous working conditions every day of the week, and through special measures like this. Find out more about the Hotel Workers Rising campaign to make Hyatt treat its workers with the respect they deserve.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Nov 18, 2011 at 11:31 AM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Daily Kos.

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