In a far-reaching victory for hotel workers, a new labor agreement has been reached between the national Hyatt hotel chain and UNITE HERE, which represents Hyatt workers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii and Chicago. The accord caps a long, tenacious fight by the union. In a memo emailed to union affiliates, UNITE HERE national president D. Taylor thanked union activists and elected leaders whose efforts over the last two years have led to “substantial wage increases and quality health and pension benefits.”
The two sides issued this joint statement last week:
Today Hyatt Hotels Corporation and UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality workers in the U.S. and Canada, announced a national agreement that resolves longstanding disputes between the two organizations. The agreement creates a framework for the company and the union to work together moving forward. Both UNITE HERE and Hyatt hailed the pact as a positive step.
Barack Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker as Commerce Secretary was a poke in the eye of the American labor movement. The niece of the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain and current member of the company’s board, Pritzker is a key player in what UNITE HERE calls “the worst hotel employer in America.”
But even if this appointment can be turned into a tactical advantage for the union campaign, the Pritzker family brand as notorious union busters has many progressives irritated or worse by Obama’s choice. (Recently workers at two Hyatts in Long Beach California won union representation after a tough three-year battle which included the passage of Proposition N,
Hyatt hotels in Long Beach, UNITE HERE Local 11 and Long Beach City Councilwoman, Dr. Suja Lowenthal, announced Monday that associates at the city’s Hyatt Regency and Hyatt The Pike have elected to be represented by UNITE HERE Local 11.
All Hyatt associates who will be represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 in Long Beach were eligible to vote in the election, which was supervised by an independent election judge. The judge verified the results last week, noting that a majority of Hyatt associates who were eligible to vote chose to have UNITE HERE represent them. Hyatt associates were notified last week of the election results.
“We’ve always maintained strong relations with our associates and unions representing Hyatt associates in other locations, and we’ve always believed Hyatt associates should have the right to choose union representation in an election,” said Stephen D’Agostino, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Long Beach. “We look forward to working with UNITE HERE to reach a contract that will continue to support our associates and maintain our high workplace standards.”
In November 2012,
Each year, some 2,000 yoga enthusiasts assemble at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, California for “a great convergence of yogis of all ages and backgrounds,” states convention sponsor Yoga Journal. The extremely liberal and tolerant “City by the Bay” seems the perfect spot to spiritually and intellectually delve into yoga principles of social service and physical purification.
“But there is one huge problem,” according to 19-year veteran yoga instructor Sri Louise. “There is a huge disconnect with our ethical values by scheduling a convention at a union boycotted hotel that has a lousy safety record and mistreats it employees.”
A January 17 late afternoon picket by around 150 UNITE-HERE Local 2 supporters made this point loud and clear.
UNITE-HERE Local 2 union representative Julia Wong told me:
“This has been an active boycott with regular picketing for three years and Yoga Journal has not taken us seriously.
On October 12, 2012, 70 women and community members from across Silicon Valley spoke out against Hyatt’s disrespect of women and their bodies in a protest at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara. The action, which marks the one year anniversary of Hyatt’s firing of Martha and Lorena Reyes, featured a “Women’s Solidarity Quilt” bearing messages of support for the two sisters and stories of the struggles women face at work. Quilts, a traditionally female art form, have long represented women’s role as the social backbone of our communities and their solidarity for one another.
On November 18, 2011, Martha and Lorena Reyes each filed a retaliation charge against the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara with the federal agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Their cases are still under investigation at the EEOC. The housekeepers were among many Hyatt employees whose faces were pasted atop bikini-clad images on the company’s bulletin board.
Today a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels was declared. As a server at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, not only do I personally condone it, but I also urge all my friends, family and online contacts to join me in voting Hyatt the worst hotel employer in America.
This is the first time in history that there has ever been a global boycott of a hotel chain, and I believe it is well deserved.
My personal journey to this decision started last September during our seven-day strike in front of the Andaz on Sunset Boulevard, where my coworkers and I were in a battle for decent wages and a fair tipping policy. A lot of us frankly were tired of working three or four different jobs while only getting paid for one.
I hadn’t yet heard of some of the stories from different Hyatt hotels across the country – like the one about Hyatt firing its entire housekeeping staff in Boston and replacing them with minimum-wage temp workers.