|By Julie Wernau, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 22, 2011--Hyatt apologized Friday morning for an incident in which heat lamps were turned on above workers on strike at the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel Thursday, saying a manager is responsible for the controversial move.
Hotel workers on strike were taken by surprise Thursday morning when 10 heat lamps hanging above their picket line flipped on and stayed on for what they claim was nearly an hour.
"Hyatt regrets the events that occurred at the Park Hyatt Chicago and apologizes to everyone who was impacted by them," the company said in a statement. "After looking into the incident, we have determined that the decision to turn on the heaters was made by a manager. It was clearly a decision that was not in line with our values or with our corporate policies. We have a long history of respecting our associates' rights and caring about their well-being and this unacceptable behavior is certainly is not illustrative of that history. We can assure you that this was an isolated incident and such a thing will not happen again.
"We appreciate the effort made by most of the associates of the hotel to cross the picket line and report to work and look forward to settling our differences with Unite Here, and securing a contract for our associates at the bargaining table."
It was 83 degrees in Chicago when the heat lamps went on around 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The workers were part of a daylong strike at the 800 N. Michigan Ave. hotel to protest the working conditions of housekeepers. The strike coincided with housekeeper protests at Hyatt hotels in nine other U.S. cities, said Unite Here Local 1. The picketing also came after 22 months of stalled contract negotiations with Hyatt in Chicago.
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