For immediate release
September 20, 2010
Protesting rampant subcontracting and poverty wages, clergy and city leaders with events worth $500,000 a year pledge their support
Indianapolis – Today, workers at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, joined by clergy and city leaders, are gathering at Monument Circle to call for a boycott at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. The boycott represents the latest escalation in a major labor dispute at the Hyatt, which has faced numerous protests in Indianapolis and in cities across North American in recent weeks.
Indianapolis Hyatt workers have endured staff cuts, reduced income, and excessive injury rates. Now Hyatt wants to take more away and lock workers into the recession by selling the hotel, subcontracting work, and paying Indianapolis hotel workers some of the lowest wages of any Hyatt workers in America. By calling for a boycott the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, local Hyatt workers are taking a stand to stop Hyatt from taking unfair advantage of the recession.
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. Despite trends showing a strong recovery for the hotel industry, hotels are still squeezing workers and cutting staff. While this marks a trend involving several major hotel companies, Hyatt is the starkest example.
"Calling for a boycott of our hotel is not an easy decision, but Hyatt’s actions have left us no choice," said Karl Frederickson, a Hyatt telephone operator for 11 years. "Hyatt’s outsourcing and continued short staffing have forced those of us working to do the job of two or three people, we work harder so they can increase their profit margin."
Workers are joined by elected officials, religious leaders, and community supporters who have all pledged to honor the workers wishes and honor the boycott. Community supporters, who run events worth $500,000 a year at hotels, have already pledged not to eat, drink or meet at the Hyatt until the workers receive justice.
"I am deeply concerned about what Hyatt is doing to workers in Indianapolis, where they do not have a voice on the job," Rev. Richard Willoughby, Pastor of Promised Land Christian Church said. "Workers face dangerously high workloads, low wages and unaffordable healthcare, while Hyatt owners and executives prosper. It’s time for the Hyatt to listen to the workers and start treating them with respect. It’s time for Hyatt to be part of the Indianapolis community and not just profit from it."
November 2008, workers first called on Hyatt to agree to a fair process to decide whether to join a union free from harassment and intimidation. Hyatt Regency management refused to remain neutral. Workers have held major protests in front of the hotel in recent weeks. On Sep. 2, Congressman Andre Carson joined workers on the picket line in front of the hotel. Hyatt protests in Indianapolis have been echoed by other major demonstrations this summer in 15 cities across the U.S. and Canada. The boycott of the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis will joins 13 other active boycotts of Hyatt properties nationwide.
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.