CFL News
September 15, 2011

Hyatt workers close weeklong strike with picket line at ‘heat lamps’ Park Hyatt

Today Hyatt workers in Chicago and in four cities nationwide concluded a one week strike with actions at area Hyatt hotels, where they were joined by clergy allies and the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka.

Today Hyatt workers in Chicago and in four cities nationwide concluded a one week strike with actions at area Hyatt hotels, where they were joined by clergy allies and the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka.  After more than two year of contract negotiations, workers at the Hyatt Regency and the Hyatt McCormick Place went on strike in protest of Hyatt’s abuse of housekeepers and the company’s ability to outsource jobs.

Click here for photo galleries from the picket line

Wednesday’s actions by striking hotel workers will conclude with a picket and protest at the Park Hyatt, where Hyatt management turned heat lamps on striking workers during a brutal heat wave in July. Ten heat lamps in the awning above the Park Hyatt front entrance were turned on striking workers when the strike began and were left on for about an hour.    They were turned off shortly after reports about them surfaced in the press. That day, the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning with temperatures climbing above 100 degrees in downtown Chicago. Hyatt released a public statement the following day, admitting that a manager was responsible for turning heat lamps on striking workers.  Charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by UNITE HERE Local 1 about the heat lamps are pending.

Workers see the incident at Park Hyatt as a symptom of a broader pattern abuse by Hyatt.  Injury rates for Hyatt housekeepers are high, and 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.

“Two years ago, the Hyatt Regency renovated the hotel and brought in larger, heavier beds. It makes my job much more difficult. I can't lift the mattress because my left arm feels like it's coming out of the socket,” says Angela Martinez, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency with 23 years of service. “We are hard-working women, not machines. I'm on strike because I want the right to stand up to Hyatt wherever it is abusing housekeepers.”

Hyatt workers have called for boycotts at 16 Hyatt properties and have led dozens of public demonstrations all across North America. Already, Hyatt has lost over $20 million in hotel business.

UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 1000 workers at the Hyatt Regency and the Hyatt McCormick Place, where workers are on strike. Contracts for area Hyatt workers expired on August 31, 2009. This week of strikes follows other work stoppages at Hyatt hotels in Chicago, including a strike at the Park Hyatt on July 21, 2011, a strike at the Hyatt Regency on June 20, 2011, and a one-day strike at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont in September 2010. In May 2010, Hyatt Regency workers—led by more than 100 housekeepers—walked off the job, protesting worsening working conditions in housekeeping after a major hotel renovation.

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