Global boycott of Hyatt launched

Millions called to action in support of hotel workers

July 25, 2012
Hotel workers in India support Hyatt boycott.

On July 23, Hyatt workers and allies launched a global boycott of Hyatt hotels. Leaders from the AFL-CIO, NFL Players Association, the National Organization for Women, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Netroots Nation, Interfaith Worker Justice and other organizations joined Hyatt housekeepers at a press conference in Washington, D.C., to formally launch the boycott. The launch marks the largest escalation to date in an ongoing campaign for basic worker rights.

Those who spoke at the press conference confirmed their organizations will stand in solidarity with Hyatt’s workers and not patronize the company’s facilities.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted that you don’t get top-notch world summits and conferences without the hard, physically demanding work of Hyatt’s workers. As a central part of the company’s success, they deserve a voice on the job to protect themselves from hazardous conditions and unfair treatment, he said.

Terry O’Neill, president of the NOW, pledged that her organization’s members would do all they could to draw attention to the plight of the housekeeping crews (the majority are women) who toil for bottom-of-the-barrel wages while Hyatt’s executives earn millions.

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith pointed out that NFL players come from the same type of working-class families as Hyatt’s housekeepers and bellhops. In addition to not spending their money at Hyatt properties, Smith promised that the 2,000 members of the NFLPA stood as “big brothers” with Hyatt workers in their struggle.

Darlene Nipper from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force added that the LGBT community supports the Hyatt global boycott because it understands what it means to fight for basic rights of fairness and respect.

The launch of the boycott will see a week of demonstrations at Hyatt Hotels and other actions in 20 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Boston and Santa Clara, Calif.

According to hospitality workers' union UNITE HERE, Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst hotel employer in the United States. Hyatt has abused housekeepers and other hotel workers, replacing longtime employees with minimum-wage temp workers and imposing dangerous workloads on those who remain. In response, Hyatt workers have spoken out publicly about abuses, picketed hotels, gone on strike, and now have launched a global boycott of Hyatt.

'Vote Hyatt worst'

The week of action includes the launch of a major social media campaign to “Vote Hyatt the Worst Hotel Employer in America.” Supporters are joining Hyatt workers this week in calling on over two million people online to “Vote Hyatt Worst” to send a message to Hyatt that its abuse and unfair treatment of hotel workers will not be tolerated.

“Hyatt systematically abuses housekeepers and other hotel workers, and it is unacceptable in 2012 that women endure debilitating injuries as a result of the work they do cleaning rooms,” said John Wilhelm, the president of UNITE HERE. “We call on Hyatt to end its systematic abuse of housekeepers and adopt the recommendations made by the federal government to reduce the physical strain associated with housekeeping work.”

Global support

The global Hyatt boycott has been endorsed by unions representing hotel workers worldwide. Additionally, over 5,000 individuals and organizations have pledged to honor boycotts called by Hyatt workers.

The International Union of Food Workers is a global union federation including hotel and food service workers’ unions. It represents over 12 million workers in 120 countries. Delegates to a recent congress unanimously voted their support of the global Hyatt boycott.

Hundreds of hotel workers in India have staged demonstrations outside of Hyatt hotels in Delhi, Goa, and Chennai in support of the global Hyatt boycott. Hotel workers are also fighting against subcontracting in the hospitality industry in India, where Hyatt has 56 hotels in development. Additionally, the Indian National Trade Union Congress has endorsed the global Hyatt boycott on behalf of the 10 million workers in India this union represents.

The United Kingdom’s largest union, Unite, pledged to support the Hyatt boycott on behalf of its 1.6 million members. Members of Unite held a solidarity rally outside of the Hyatt Andaz at Liverpool Street in London. Another union, the GMB, featured the Hyatt boycott during the Global Pride parade in London July 7, and is planning further actions during the week of the global boycott launch.

In the Philippines, several groups held a solidarity action in support of Hyatt workers. The IUF-affiliated NUWHRAIN, the hotel workers union in the Philippines, joined with the Alliance for Progressive Labor and Sentro ng mga Progresibong Manggagawat outside the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila to send a strong message. In a press statement by NUWHRAIN, workers expressed their “solidarity with the workers of Hyatt in the United States and elsewhere in the world who have suffered and continued to suffer from many forms of exploitation and abuses perpetrated by the hotel brands under the Hyatt Corporation.”

Nearly 100,000 members of SumOfUs.org in Australia, the United Kingdom and North America signed a petition calling on the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara to reinstate Martha and Lorena Reyes, who were fired after objecting to the posting of demeaning pictures of housekeepers in bikinis on a bulletin board at work.

This campaign deserves the strong support of progressive organizations and social justice activists throughout the world. Boycott the Hyatt!

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