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Massachussetts Governor Reviewing Hyatt's Offer to Laid Off Housekeepers;
Wants to Ensure the Workers Feel the Proposal is Fair
By Donna Goodison, Boston HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

September 26, 2009 - The union backing 98 housekeepers fired from three Hyatt hotels in Boston and Cambridge and replaced with cheaper outsourced workers lambasted the Chicago chain's offer yesterday of substitute jobs for them.

Hyatt said it arranged similar, full-time positions for the employees in the Boston market through outsourcing firm United Service Cos., which would match their Hyatt pay rate through 2010.

"Every housekeeping employee who wants a job will have one," Hyatt Regency Boston general manager Phil Stamm said in a statement. "That's our promise."

But Unite Here Local 26, the union representing hotel workers, blasted Hyatt's proposed resolution, calling it a "smokescreen designed to trick people into thinking Hyatt is doing the right thing."

Hyatt also offered to extend health-care benefits until March 31, 2010, for housekeepers who accept the positions. They then would have the option of obtaining benefits through United Service.

"It does not provide the women with the one thing they really deserve," Local 26 president Janice Loux said in a statement. "These women have made it clear that they want to be returned to the jobs they have held for years."

The housekeepers were laid off in a cost-cutting move on Aug. 31. Hyatt has denied claims that they were tricked into training their replacements. The housekeepers made $15 an hour on average, while their replacements from Georgia's Hospitality Staffing Solutions make $8 an hour.

Asked if there remained a chance that Hyatt would give in to Local 26's demands, Hyatt spokeswoman Farley Kern said, "That would put the (replacement) workers out of a job."

Hyatt has faced protests and even a state boycott threat from Gov. Deval Patrick if it fails to rehire the workers.

A spokesman for the governor said Patrick was reviewing Hyatt's offer and "wants to ensure that this is a proposal the workers can depend on and feel is fair."

For the fired housekeepers who want to pursue other career paths, Hyatt said it's teamed with Manpower and Right Management for career services and retraining. Those employees would receive a stipend equal to their Hyatt pay rate through March 2010 or until they get permanent jobs, whichever comes first.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce relocated a financial services forum scheduled at the Hyatt Regency Boston next Friday to the Four Seasons to "mitigate any potential disruption" to its members. It hasn't taken an official position on the matter.

The Boston Taxi Drivers Association has also threatened to refuse service to Hyatt's Boston hotels unless it rehires the workers.


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