For immediate release
November 4, 2010
Toronto Labour movement calls for boycott of the Hyatt Regency Toronto
Hyatt takes away grievance procedure for union workers. Labour instability inevitable.
TORONTO, ON–Hyatt Regency Toronto workers, along with members from various leaders of the city’s labour movement, will gather this afternoon to call a boycott of their employer. The boycott is a response to the growing frustration workers have with Hyatt as a result of its unwillingness to bargain a fair collective agreement, and more recently, its decision to suspend the grievance procedure for employees.
UNITE HERE Local 75 members at the Hyatt Regency have been without a collective agreement since January 31, 2010. This boycott follows a series of labour disputes and two one-day strikes during the Toronto International Film Festival. There are sixteen other active Hyatt boycotts across Canada and the US.
"We felt all of our workshop presenters would refuse to attend a conference at a hotel which is undergoing a labour dispute with its employees," said Barry Diacon, President of COUSA. "We have cancelled our conference on October 29 and 30. The Hyatt Regency is in danger of acquiring a dark stigma that will endure long past this round of bargaining with its workers." The Confederation of Ontario University Staff Associations & Unions is an umbrella group of unionized and non-unionized staff organizations at Ontario universities.
"The Hyatt Regency should be bargaining with its workers, not trying to take away their rights and destroy their union," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, who speaks for one million Ontario workers. "We are standing with the members of Local 75 and urging the hotel to get back to the table; we are requesting customers not to meet, eat or sleep at this hotel until it has done right by the very workers who have been responsible for its prosperity."
"The Hyatt refuses to bargain with us. It refuses to treat us with respect. Now, they are blatantly taking away our rights by stripping us of a fair grievance procedure. And so, we ask you to take away your business from this hotel and refuse to give them your money," said John Sultana, a banquet server at the Hyatt Regency Toronto. "The grievance procedure gives us an orderly way to resolve disagreements with management. It will be much harder to resolve issues without confrontation and disruption now."
John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council added: "We are tired of employers trying to squeeze workers and that’s why we are supporting a boycott of this hotel. Until the Hyatt reaches a decent agreement with their employees, we will not be doing business with this hotel. Hotel workers come to our city looking for a better life. They are our city’s ambassadors and they deserve a living wage and a decent life."
The Hyatt Regency has been in a legal strike/lockout position since September 3, 2010. The approximately 150 workers have already engaged in two one-day strike actions during TIFF. In May, Hyatt workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize strike action if necessary, along with workers at other hotels across the city.
Hyatt serves as the starkest example of how global hotel companies prospered even during the recession. In one day, Hyatt Corporation’s owners made $900 million when they took the company public in November 2009. At the same time, Hyatt hotel workers have endured reduced hours, understaffing, and heavier workloads, which put workers at higher risk of injury. Across the board in North America, the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than expected, with a hearty rebound projected in 2011 and 2012. Hyatt reported that as of June 30, 2010 it had over $1.6 billion in cash and short term investments available.
Meanwhile, UNITE HERE Local 75 members at the Delta Chelsea are on the second week of a strike. Today, they will be joined by members of the Central Ontario Building Trades for a solidarity rally. Local 75 represents over 7,000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area.