For immediate release
June 30, 2011
Report: Investigation into Hyatt’s working conditions prompts Rabbis to pledge to treat Hyatt as “not kosher”
Rabbis and other faith leaders have released a report today, pledging to treat a number of Hyatt Hotels as "not kosher." Open the Gates of Justice: A Clergy Report on Working Conditions at Hyatt Hotels describes a range of practice by Hyatt that clergy found "contrary to the religious traditions we uphold." This report is the result of direct conversations by 21 faith leaders with dozens of Hyatt workers across the U.S.
Clergy in the report focus on four areas of concern with Hyatt’s business practices: subcontracting, housekeeper injuries, employer interference in organizing efforts by non-union Hyatt workers, and efforts by Hyatt to divide its employees. In accordance with Jewish legal tradition, Jewish clergy who produced this report identify Hyatt’s mistreatment of workers as Biblically prohibited oshek/oppression. At properties where workers have called for boycotts, these Jewish clergy pledge, "to treat the Hyatt as lo kasher/not kosher for events and celebrations until it treats its workers with justice."
While "kosher" most often refers to choosing food that has rabbinic supervision or that follows Jewish dietary restrictions, it can also refer to practices or institutions that are "unfit" in an ethical sense. By claiming that Hyatt Hotels are not kosher, the rabbis are pronouncing the hotels "unfit" in an ethical and spiritual context and urging Jews to avoid contact with Hyatt.
In recent years, rabbis and other religious leaders have acted in solidarity with workers at Hyatt. In December 2009, rabbis met with top Hyatt executives at Hyatt Corporate Headquarters after Hyatt fired nearly 100 housekeepers at three Boston-area properties, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with workers from temporary agencies. Over 300 Jewish leaders have signed a pledge to honor Hyatt boycotts. In June 2010, over 80 clergy led a delegation to Hyatt leaders at Hyatt’s Annual Shareholders Meeting. Just last week on June 20, hundreds of religious leaders picketed with Hyatt workers on strike at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
"Hyatt once had a very respectable reputation," says Rabbi Barbara Penzner, a past President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. "This report sheds light on the current truth: Hyatt not only treated the Boston workers unjustly, but they have a practice of oppressing their workers nationwide."
Workers at 18 Hyatt Hotels across the United States and Canada have called for boycotts of the hotels where they work. Nationwide, Hyatt has sparked controversy for its abuse of housekeepers and for replacing long-term employees with workers from temporary agencies.
The full report is available online at www.JusticeatHyatt.org.
Justice at Hyatt is a fellowship of faith leaders in support of workers seeking fair working conditions at Hyatt Hotels across North America. For more information or to read the report, visit www.JusticeatHyatt.org.