- Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 09:16
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Hyatt hotel workers in 20 US cities are planning pickets, civil disobedience, and other actions to this week to protest relentless efforts by Hyatt to drive workers harder and replace permanent jobs with temporary, lower-paid ones.
And the problem could spread internationally.
Most union Hyatt workers have been without a contract for three years, fighting concession and workload demands, while workers in unorganised hotels are facing a relentless speedup leading to an epidemic of injuries. Hyatt has already faced strikes and a boycott campaign by Unite Here, the hotel union. Now the boycott is expanding.
Many housekeeping staff allegedly take pain medication to deal with the muscle strain from shoving king-size flat sheets under heavy mattresses more than a hundred times a day.
Since contracts started to expire, union workers have engaged in dozens of short strikes at various Hyatts in the US and Canada, and the union calculates that targeted boycotts have diverted at least $25 million away from Hyatt properties.
Annemarie Strassel of Unite Here in Chicago said the union is insisting on stable hotel jobs but is meeting a dug-in position from Hyatt. "We are stuck around the issues of subcontracting and making working conditions safer for housekeepers," she said.
On Monday, the union dropped "Hyatt Hurts" banners in several cities and held a Washington press conference with supportive groups, including the NFL Players Association and the National Organization for Women. Plans this week call for everything from clergy delegations to the boss, to marches and civil disobedience.
After years of boycotting selected Hyatts for their mistreatment of workers and refusals to negotiate, Unite Here announced Monday that it is expanding its boycott to all Hyatt properties worldwide, with the exception of the dozen that have signed union contracts. The international food and hotel workers federation, IUF, has signed on to the global boycott, representing 12 million hotel and food service workers in 120 countries. Indian workers fighting subcontracting in their hotel industry have joined in, picketing hotels in three states to support the boycott. British and Filipino workers have also picketed Hyatts in support of US workers.
The expanded boycott aims to hit Hyatt overseas, where it's growing. While the US market is saturated, according to the union, Hyatt has 56 hotels in development in India alone.