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Candlelight vigil at the Hyatt Regency Boston after the hotel fired its longtime housekeepers and replaced them with outsourced temporary labor.
Candlelight vigil at the Hyatt Regency Boston,
2009. (Hotel Workers Rising)
Hyatt hotels have a long record of worker abuses, and now hotel workers union UNITE HERE is escalating its calls for boycott from individual Hyatt locations to a global boycott from which a few unionized locations are excluded. The boycott is supported by a long list of community, faith, labor and advocacy groups, including Netroots Nation, the NFL Players Association, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Organization for Women. Hotel workers in India, England and the Philippines have held solidarity rallies.

Some lowlights of Hyatt's record leading up to this boycott:

  • Hyatt housekeepers have higher injury rates than housekeepers at four other chains in a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. At non-union Hyatts, they are forced to clean up to 30 rooms a day, and in 2011 alone, "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."
  • In 2009, Boston and Cambridge Hyatt hotels laid off their longtime housekeeping staff and replaced them with outsourced temps. This was after the fired housekeepers had unknowingly trained their own replacements.
  • Last summer, a manager turned heat lamps on workers picketing outside a Chicago Hyatt during a heat wave.
  • Last fall, sisters Lorena and Martha Reyes were fired after they objected to having their heads photoshopped onto bikini-clad bodies. Officially, the sisters were fired for violations of break time policy, but the coincidence strained credibility given that this was not a common reason for discipline, let alone firing. Also coincidentally, another housekeeper at the same hotel was suspended just after she protested the Reyes sisters' firing.

In testimonials, Hyatt workers emphasize the pain they live with because of their work. According to Jacqueline Ammoah, "Before we start our day, there is always a line at the drinking fountain for women to take their pain pills." Since Hyatt introduced heavier beds, Angela Martinez "can’t lift the mattress because my left arm feels like it’s coming out of the socket. It feels like it is separating." Claudette Evans says, "Just two weeks ago my co-worker hurt his back at work, putting him on light duty. This means I have to do my work and his because Hyatt does not offer us anymore help. Now, I’m feeling over worked, stressed, and pain."

A few Hyatt hotels, including the Hyatt Place San Jose, which Netroots Nation 2013 will be using, are not included in the boycott.

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