For immediate release
November 18, 2010
In response to injury reports, community says, "If Hyatt won't help ease the burden, we will!"
LONG BEACH – A group of 50 women, including community leaders, students and hotel workers confronted Hyatt management on Thursday, saying if Hyatt doesn’t do something to ease the burden on housekeepers, they will.
The delegation came one week after Hyatt housekeepers filed injury complaints with OSHA in eight cities across the U.S., including Long Beach and Los Angeles, reporting repetitive motion and other kinds of injuries sustained on the job. In some cases, injuries have led to permanent disability.
At some Hyatt properties, including Long Beach, room attendants are required to clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is commonly considered standard in the industry. Speeding up work by raising the room quota or adding room amenities can strain the body and lead to more accidents, like slipping on wet bathroom floors or tripping over furniture.
"When I started in 1990, we only cleaned 16 rooms,” said Celia Alvarez, a former Hyatt Long Beach housekeeper. “Several years ago, Hyatt decided to implement the ‘Refresh Program,’ and since then housekeepers at my hotel have to clean up to 30 rooms in one eight-hour shift. Now many women have gotten hurt. I am injured and have to deal with pain every day.”
The landmark multi-city filing at 12 Hyatt properties that employ more than 3,500 workers is the first of its kind in the private sector. OSHA logs at the Hyatt hotels where complaints were filed indicated that workers logged 780 injuries in the past two years. 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) earlier this year. By company, housekeepers working at Hyatt hotels in the AJIM study had the highest injury rate of those hotels studied.
The women who led the delegation into the hotel brought with them supplies for the housekeepers that reduce some of the strain associated with housekeeping work—common sense solutions like fitted sheets like we use at home to reduce the number of times that women must lift nearly 100 pound mattresses to tuck sheets and long-handled mops to prevent workers from getting down on their hands and knees to clean the floors, a body posture that can cause injury. Even at properties where Hyatt provides an option of using “swiffers” or similar devices, workers complain they still must get down on their knees for fear of not cleaning well or quickly enough.
"When women put on a housekeeper’s uniform, they become invisible," said Tonia Reyes Uranga, a Long Beach community activist. “Most people go to expensive hotels and get great service and never know what’s behind the scenes. Behind the experience of comfort and luxury that hotel housekeepers provide is a persistent pattern of pain an injury.”