For immediate release
March 28, 2011
(Washington, DC) – On March 28, 2011, Elvia Claudio, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio, will appear at a White House event hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President. The forum, entitled "Women Organize," honors the legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary by highlighting the courageous efforts of women workers who are organizing for safer workplaces today. Claudio is one of twelve workers from across the U.S. who has been selected to appear at the White House event.
The forum draws on historic tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which prompted major workplace safety reforms, to highlight the critical need to ensure worker safety and labor standards for all workers–including a new generation of immigrant workers. Hyatt housekeepers nationwide have led an effort to bring visibility to the hazards of hotel housekeeping work, which over time can lead to debilitating injuries.
Claudio, a mother of three, has worked for nine years at the non-union Hyatt Regency in San Antonio, where workers–along with workers from the Grand Hyatt–have been fighting for a fair process to join a union. At the Hyatt Regency and the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, room attendants are required to clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at unionized hotels. Speeding up work by raising the room quota can strain the body and lead to more accidents, like slipping on wet bathroom floors or tripping over furniture.
"When we put our on our housekeeping uniforms, we become invisible–we are treated like robots," says Claudio, who experiences chronic pain and sometimes loses all sensation in her arm from the strain of her work. "Now that we’re organizing, I feel like people really see me for the first time in my life. I am proud to stand with the other women I work with to have our stories be heard, and I will continue to fight to be treated like a human being."
A major peer-reviewed study of hotel worker injuries at 50 U.S. hotels operated by the five largest U.S. hotel companies was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (AJIM) in 2010. By company, housekeepers working at Hyatt hotels in the AJIM study had the highest injury rate of those hotels studied. Injuries in the hotel industry disproportionately affect women. Nearly all housekeepers are women, and this study shows housekeepers to have the highest injury rates.
In November 2010, Hyatt housekeepers in several cities, including San Antonio, filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about work-related injuries.