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Posts Tagged ‘Hyatt’

Chicago hotels seem unwilling to meet workers’ demands, as strike stretches into second week

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

The Chicago hotel workers strike has entered its second week, but employees and management don’t appear to be any closer to a resolution.

Workers are demanding year-round health insurance, since many workers don’t have insurance during the slow winter months, when they are laid off. They also want higher wages, more sick days, and more manageable workloads.

Ionela Petrea, a server at Hyatt Regency Bar who is on the worker negotiating committee at the hotel, told the Chicago Tribune last week that there had been two negotiating sessions since the beginning of the strike. Petrea said they were talking about wage increases for tipped workers, heavy workloads, and year-round health insurance, with the last issue being the source of the most contention. Petrea told the Tribune that the reason the hotel is probably dragging its feet on this particular issue because it would be more expensive compared to other requests.

The union argues that the hotel industry can afford to answer the workers’ demands. Sarah Lyons, research analyst of UNITE HERE Local 1, told WTTW, “The Chicago hospitality industry is doing extraordinarily well. Last year there were a record number of visitors: 55 million people. Chicago hotels raked in $2.3 billion in revenue last year.”

The contracts, which covered 6,000 employees, including doorman, servers, doormen, and housekeepers, expired on August 30. The businesses don’t seem any more eager to meet workers’ requests, however. Last week, representatives for these hotels claimed that it was too early in the negotiations process to strike and that workers and management had not reached an impasse. This week, hotels continue to make similar statements and haven’t signaled that they’re willing to meet workers’ demands.

Paul Andes, a Hilton Hotels senior vice president for labor relations, said in a statement to Chicago Reader published on Tuesday that the strike will have “minimal impact” on operations and added, “We continue to provide the service and amenities we are proud to offer our guests and clients every day. We are negotiating with the union in good faith and are confident that we will reach an agreement that is fair to our valued team members and to our hotels.”

However, last week, travelers said that their stay at Palmer House a Hilton Hotel, or as some refer to it, Palmer House Hilton, had a few complications. According to ABC7, towels were piling up, beds were unmade, and check-in lines were long. The same has been true at other hotels during the strike, with managers doing housekeeping and struggling to keep up with the workload. Ernesto Melendez, a Chicago tourist staying at a strike-affected hotel he did not name, said to CBS Chicago, “Our room hasn’t been cleaned for a couple of days. They gave us a notice when we checked in that they weren’t going to clean the room and that’s tough because there’s five of us in the room.”

Some groups holding events have moved their conferences to hotels and other venues where workers are not on strike in solidarity with workers. Last week, the Democratic Attorneys General Association canceled its 200-person policy event at the strike-affected JW Marriott in support of the hotel workers, the Chicago Tribune reported. Howard Brown Health Center, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ people’s health, moved the Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium from its original hotel venue where workers were striking to the Tribune to Malcolm X College.

Some national political figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, have tweeted in support of the strike.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) decided to give a speech at a striking hotel, however, while Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, alderman for Chicago’s 35th Ward, joined the hotel workers’ picket line.

The Democratic candidate challenging Gov. Rauner, Jay Robert Pritzker, or J.B. Pritzker, a venture capitalist, is a member of the family that owns the Hyatt Hotel chain. Pritzker, who received endorsements from 14 unions in May and has sent a number of pro-union tweets, has not tweeted anything about the hotel strike since it began.

Thousands of Boston hotel employers may be next to go on strike. Last week, Marriott hotel workers voted to authorize a strike against Marrott’s eight Boston hotels to demand better pay and benefits, according to WGBH.

“It won’t only cripple the hotels, but it will send a message worldwide that there’s labor unrest in Boston,” Brian Lang, Local 26 union president, said.

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on September 19, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Casey Quinlan is a policy reporter at ThinkProgress covering economic policy and civil rights issues. Her work has been published in The Establishment, The Atlantic, The Crime Report, and City Limits.

OSHA Warns Hyatt on Housekeeper Injuries

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Image: Mike Hall

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has told Hyatt Hotels what the hotel chain’s housekeepers have been telling it for years—“Hyatt Hurts.”

OSHA issued a formal Hazard Alert letter telling Hyatt that its housekeepers face ergonomic risks every day on the job. The letter outlines steps Hyatt can take to reduce housekeeper injuries.

Pamela Vossenas, UNITEHERE!’s health and safety director, says by issuing the Hazard Alert at a corporate level:

“OSHA is telling Hyatt that the dangers of housekeeping work are real, that there are reasonable solutions and it’s time for Hyatt to put them into practice across the country.”

The letter follows a yearlong OSHA investigation into injury complaints workers filed in 2010. Hyatt once told federal investigators that the workers’ injuries could have been the result of dancing, not lifting heavy mattresses and cleaning as many as 30 rooms a day, as some Hyatt housekeepers do. In one filing, Hyatt wrote:

“The close association of housekeeping with routine life also raises difficult questions about causation. One’s injury is at least as likely to have occurred during non-work activities like sports, dancing or performing routine chores in one’s home.”

OSHA also says Hyatt must keep records on injuries suffered by sub-contracted workers at its hotels.

Maria Soto, a housekeeper at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio who has been injured cleaning rooms, says:

“For years, we have asked Hyatt to make simple changes that would ease the toll on our bodies. Now our voices are being heard, and the federal government is joining us in calling on Hyatt to make our jobs safer.”

Read the full Hazard letter here and find out more from Hyatt Hurts here.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO on May 8, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

Hyatt Hotel Puts the Heat on Striking Workers—Literally

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

kari-lydersenCHICAGO—The Hyatt hotel chain turned up the heat on striking and picketing workers—literally—here Thursday, as 10 hanging heat lamps normally used in winter were turned on workers picketing outside the downtown Park Hyatt. This occurred on one of the year’s hottest days—with a heat index well above 100 degrees and the temperature over 80 degrees, with high humidity even early in the morning—part of a lethal nationwide heat wave.

CBS reported:

Combined with the outdoor air temperature, Linda Long says it was hotter than the Hyatt kitchen she’s worked in for eleven years. “They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” Long said. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”

Workers at Hyatts in nine cities nationwide were holding a one-day strike and picket to draw attention to contract negotiations, which have been stalled for 22 months, and what workers and union leaders call atrocious treatment of housekeepers, including sub-par wages, subcontracting out of work, and the speed at which housekeepers are expected to clean rooms.

The Chicago Tribune quoted a 42-year-old bellman about the heat lamps. He said only bellmen, engineers and select other employees can turn the lamps on, and it could not have been an accident.

This is one of the hottest days of the summer. Work at that door every single day and only in winter time do those need to be turned on. Somebody did it on purpose. It’s ridiculous.

Hyatt workers also held a one-day strike and picket last month, as Candice Bernd reported for Working In These Times:

After months of bargaining, Unite Here Local 1 has won a 3-year contractual agreement with Hilton and Starwood hotel companies this year. While Hyatt has indicated support for a contract that would match some of the settlements of Hilton and Starwood for union employees, the company continues to refuse a fair bargaining process for workers at nonunion hotels, remaining the last of the three largest hotel chains to do so. Another sticking point for Hyatt is the subcontracting out of new work.

The chain is owned by the influential Pritzker family. Chicago blogger Michael Klonsky (an occasional In These Times contributor) writes:

Heiress Penny Sue Pritzker chairs Obama’s national campaign finance committee. She is also big player in Democratic Party politics as well as in the world of anti-union, corporate school reform and was recently appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a seat on the Chicago school board.

In a statement Hyatt said the heat lamps went on by accident and were turned off about an hour later after they were notified. Workers said they suspected that’s because media had been alerted. Klonsky reported the heat lamps seemed to energize the picketers, who chanted “You can’t smoke us out.”

This seemingly inhuman and probably illegal response seemed to have had just the opposite effect. Picketers began chanting, “Hyatt can’t take the heat, but we can!” The lamps were left on until word got out and media began to show up.

The day of action Thursday came three weeks after a report by rabbis that described the Hyatt working conditions as “not kosher” and hundreds of religious leaders picketed with workers at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. The UNITE HERE unionwebsite says: “Hyatt Hotel Housekeepers suffer abuse. Our injury rates are high, our wages are low, and our immigrant sisters are exploited and cheated by Hyatt’s housekeeping subcontractors.”

The Chicago Tribune reported the company’s official response to Thursday’s picket:

In cities from Chicago to Waikiki and here at Park Hyatt, we have offered union leaders contract proposals that match wage and benefit packages identical to what Unite Here has accepted from other hotel companies. Yet, union leaders have rejected every one of these proposals.

This Blog originally appeared In These Times on July 22, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Kari Lydersen is an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book is Revolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at kari.lydersen@gmail.com.

Hotel Workers, Trumka Arrested at Sit-In for Fair Contract

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Image: Mike HallMore than 100 union members, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm were arrested at a sit-in demanding justice and a fair contract for San Francisco hotel workers last night. The workers have been without a contract since August.

The sit-in in front of the Hilton San Francisco followed a march by nearly 1,000 members of UNITEHERE! Local 2, other union members and community and political supporters. Says Ingrid Carp, a cook for 29 years at the Hilton:

“We’re determined as ever to win a good contract. It’s wrong for corporations to position themselves to make billions with the coming economic recovery, and expect us to go backward.”

UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm (left) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were among the 140 arrested at a San Francisco hotel sit-in for justice.

UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm (left) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were among the 140 arrested at a San Francisco hotel sit-in for justice.

At the rally before the march, Trumka told crowd:

“A job is a good job because working people fight to make it one. It doesn’t matter if the job is in a coal mine or a hotel, a classroom or a car wash.

“That’s why the struggle of hotel workers here in San Francisco and across our country is so important.  If we don’t protect the wages and benefits and health care of hotel workers no job is safe, no worker is safe no family is safe.”

Tomorrow, Trumka will join workers for a rally and picket in front of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Along with the demand for justice for hotel workers, Trumka is in California this week to spotlight the need for job creation. We’ll have more on that later today.

The action is part of a campaign to win fair contracts at several national hotel chains, including Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood. The profitable chains are using the recession as an excuse to demand health care benefit cuts in contract talks with more than 16,000 workers at dozens of hotels in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.

*This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on January 6, 2010. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.

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