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at Hyatt Hotels Launching Week Long Strike in Four Cities

Chicago, September 8, 2011 -- The following is being released today by UNITE HERE!:

In an emblematic fight over the direction of our economy, today thousands of Hyatt hotel workers in four cities nationwide--Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu--are launching week-long strikes. By striking, workers are standing up for decent jobs for themselves and their families, but they are also fighting for the right to take a stand against an abusive employer that is destroying good jobs in their North American hotels.

Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry. Hyatt has replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers and imposed dangerous workloads on those housekeepers who remain. In July, Hyatt turned heat lamps on striking workers in Chicago during a brutal heat wave. In Boston, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with temporary workers earning minimum wage.

Most notably, Hyatt has sparked controversy for its abuse of housekeepers. Injury rates for Hyatt housekeepers are high, and academic 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.

"Hyatt is abusing housekeepers in Los Angeles and across the country. I am on strike today--not just for a decent contract--but to fight for our right stand up to Hyatt wherever this giant company is attacking workers," says Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, California.

Hyatt workers have called for boycotts at 17 Hyatt properties and have led dozens of public demonstrations all across North America. Already, Hyatt has lost over $20 million in hotel business as a result of the boycott.

"Hyatt workers are waging a crucial struggle," says John Wilhelm, the President of UNITE HERE--a union representing 250,000 hotel and other hospitality workers throughout North America. "In the face of widening income inequality and the systematic eradication of the American middle class, Hyatt workers are bravely fighting for the ability to stand up for one another in contending with a global giant like Hyatt."

Contracts for striking workers in Chicago and San Francisco expired in August 2009, in Los Angeles in November 2009, and in Honolulu in June 2010. Workers in each of these cities have reached agreements with other major hotel employers, like Hilton and Starwood. This week’s strike affects approximately 3,000 unionized hotel workers at six hotel properties across North America, including the largest Hyatt property in the world--the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

UNITE HERE represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.


Annemarie Strassel

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