For some people being good at your job means that others hardly notice you are there. For many of the hard working men and women housekeepers who work for HYATT this is definitely the case. The problem is because the people are virtually invisible to the public their struggles also go unnoticed. That is until now.
UNITE HERE which represents working people in airports, gaming, hotels, food service, textile, laundry, manufacturing, and distribution is working to bring these issues to the front page. They are also fighting against one of the largest hotel chains in the United States, HYATT.
The struggles between HYATT and the UNITE HERE members have made news mostly due to contract negotiations falling apart. The main stream media has yet to explore why these negotiations have broken down and the real struggles that these workers face.
In California many of the housekeepers have been trying to get HYATT to provide simple and basic tools for housekeepers to effectively do their jobs, like mops with handles. In a phone interview, Kathy Youngblood (HYATT Andaz in West Hollywood) talked to me about the work she is doing to get mops for housekeepers, so they do not have to clean floors on their hands and knees. Kathy and others are also pushing for HYATT to purchase fitted sheets. Fitted sheets will save time and strain on the workers who would otherwise have to lift heavy mattresses to make the beds. Kathy said "I am not afraid to work hard, but what HYATT is doing to us borders on abuse".
Kathy is not alone, on the other side of the country workers in Boston have been fighting for over three years to get a signed contract. This is largely due to HYATT sub-contracting out jobs. Those people who currently do that work are then laid off. To add salt in the wound, workers must train their replacements before they leave. HYATT fired the entire housekeeping staff to replace them with temp workers who made minimum wage.
In Maryland, HYATT workers are routinely paid 3/5ths the wages of HYATT workers in other states. Workers at the Baltimore Regency, recently held a rally / protest to bring attention to the sub-contracting and low wages. In a statement released by Unite Here:
Protesters today are carrying banners with the message "No More 3/5ths in Baltimore." Many workers at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore are making little more than $8 an hour or just 3/5ths of what Hyatt workers in similar markets are making. Furthermore, Hyatt is increasingly relying on subcontractors to staff core functions of the hotel, creating a growing class of workers earning little more than minimum wage and no benefits.For all these reasons and more workers at HYATT and the members of UNITE HERE are asking for our help.
Secondly, Boycott HYATT! Here are four reasons you should boycott HYATT. Stop supporting a company who abuses employees. There is even a story of managers turning heat lamps on the employees durning a heat wave. The employees were striking because of the abusive treatment from managers.
The next time you are walking through the halls of the hotel, be sure to stop and thank the housekeeper. Remember these men and women work tirelessly to make sure you have a clean room to sleep in every time. Without these hard working men and women, no hotel would ever be able to survive, because nobody would ever stay in a dirty room!