For immediate release
January 17, 2011
Indianapolis-area leaders hold protest “sip-in” at Hyatt, honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the tradition of Dr. King, area religious and city leaders honor boycott and call for equality at Hyatt
Indianapolis, IN – Ordering nothing but water, but leaving a generous tip for Hyatt workers, area leaders held a special "sip-in" protest at the Hyatt 1 South Restaurant, recalling the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and showing support for a boycott called by Hyatt workers last September. Before being ushered out by Hyatt security, community leaders stood up to speak, calling for equality at the Hyatt and fair treatment for Hyatt workers.
"Today we are here to say that in Dr. King’s legacy, we support the Hyatt workers in their quest for dignity, we stand beside them as they fight for equality at the workplace, and we will continue to stand with them until they receive justice," stated Pastor Willoughby of Promise Land Christian Community Church.
Local City Councilors also announced new proposed legislation to continue Dr. King’s legacy of civil and workers’ rights. They introduced an amendment to the North of South project would hold developers accountable if they break discrimination or wage and hour laws, requiring them to pay back taxpayers by paying back city bonds immediately if they break the law. The amendment will be voted on at a special meeting of the Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, the 18th at 5:30. Councilors also will propose an ordinance that would offer tax relief for low-wage hospitality workers in the Professional Sports Development Area.
"I believe that it important for our city leaders to continue Dr. King’s legacy and that is why I’m here today in support of the Hyatt hotel workers," said City Councilor Dane Mahern.
Hotel workers in Indianapolis are among the lowest paid hotel workers of any major city in America. For years, Hyatt workers have called on Hyatt to remain neutral as workers organize a union. Hyatt has refused to honor this request. As a result, the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis has faced numerous demonstrations in recent months, and Hyatt workers have called for a boycott asking that customers not eat, sleep, or meet there until management agrees to a fair and neutral process for workers to unionize. The boycott of the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis joins 15 other boycotts of Hyatt properties across North America.
While many Indianapolis Hyatt workers live paycheck to paycheck, Chicago-based Hyatt and its owners, the billionaire Pritzker Family, cashed out $900 million dollars in a public offering last November. As the economy rebounds, Hyatt continues to outsource hotel positions to a subcontracting agency that boasts of a 12% labor cost reduction, offers no access to adequate health care, and does not offer vacation or sick pay.
Currently, there are no unionized hotels in Indianapolis and today workers from three Indianapolis hotels are organizing as part of Hotel Workers Rising, a national campaign coordinated by the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE.