|By Julie Wernau, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 26, 2010--BY JULIE WERNAU -- More than 300 workers at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago have walked off the job in a spontaneous work stoppage after they say management barred union representatives from entering the building for more than a week.
"The organizers have a right to be in the hotel," said Donica Steed, a room attendant at the Regency.
Steed said workers tried three times to get management to allow the representatives in, but those negotiations failed.
Work loads have increased for housekeepers, Steed said, following a renovation to the Hyatt's West Tower. Housekeepers said the West Tower's new luxury beds and bedding are too heavy and cause injuries.
Steed said housekeepers clean one room every half hour, and that she makes $14.60 an hour.
Hyatt has been criticized by the hotel union in the past, following a study that found the chain had more housekeeper injuries than any other major hotel chain.
It is still unclear whether workers will return to work.
Guests received a letter under their doors this morning, informing them that the walk out would affect some hotel amenities, including full-service housekeeping. Stetson's Chop House is closed and guests are being asked to enter and exit the hotel via the East Tower entrance only, since workers have surrounded the hotel in a picket line.
"We are disappointed that the union, rather than continuing to negotiate during the worst economic crisis in a generation, has engaged in a work stoppage at our hotel," Hyatt Regency management wrote in a letter to hotel guests.
Management said they will attempt to provide normal hotel operations during the work stoppage.
Workers staying at the Regency to attend the UAW-GM Joint Conference at the hotel have joined the picket line.
"I got a letter under my door and looked out the window and saw what was going on down there..." said David Green, president of UAW 1714 in Lordstown, Ohio, who joined the picket line. "Hopefully this will help them get a contract."
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