For immediate release
July 21, 2011
Thousands of hotel workers and allies in nine cities picket and hold civil disobedience demonstrations
Today, Hyatt housekeepers nationwide are stepping out of the shadows to demand an end to the abuses they face at work. Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those housekeepers who remain. Now hotel workers and allies are holding protests in nine cities across the U.S. In some cities, housekeepers are taking arrest in acts of civil disobedience, while others are picketing and even going on strike.
Hyatt has faced numerous strikes and dozens of demonstrations across North America in recent years. 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 at far lower rates of pay. Housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels. This leaves room attendants as little as 15 minutes to clean a room, resulting in fewer jobs and dangerous working conditions for housekeepers.
Academic studies have shown housekeeping to be dangerous work that can lead to debilitating injuries. In a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine examining a total of 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied by hotel company.
"Hyatt abuses housekeepers. They are hoping we will suffer in silence, but today housekeepers are standing up across the nation," says Ofelia Martinez, a housekeeper on strike today at the Park Hyatt.
Now Hyatt workers are demanding an end to the abuse. In the last several months, Hyatt workers have gone on strike, called for boycotts at 18 Hyatt properties, and led public demonstrations all across North America. Already, Hyatt has lost over $20 million in hotel business as a result of the boycott.
Hotel housekeepers are the invisible backbone of the hotel industry. The grittier aspects of their jobs–the work of scrubbing toilets, changing sheets, and encountering guests alone behind closed doors–are the hidden foundation on which an atmosphere of luxury and comfort are built. Through UNITE HERE, the union representing hotel and other hospitality workers across North America, housekeepers are stepping forward and breaking the silence on the many dangers they face at work.
Hundreds of faith leaders and other allies are standing with Hyatt workers. On June 30, Jewish clergy released a national report, detailing housekeeper abuses and poor working conditions at Hyatt properties across the U.S. In it, clergy pledge to treat Hyatt as not kosher until Hyatt workers attain justice.
Hyatt protests are being held today in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Hawaii.
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.