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Labor & Worker Rights Thu Sep 08 2011
Today begins a week-long strike for employees of the Hyatt hotel chain, in Chicago as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu.
These workers, who have been without a union contract for two years, allege that Hyatt is particular among hotel chains for its unfair treatment of laborers. Union president Henry Tamarin was quoted as saying that "Hyatt is one of the most abusive hotels in their treatment of housekeepers and has the worst record on subcontracting."
In addition to decrying the outsourcing of jobs to agencies that will provide laborers who will work for even less pay, the housekeepers cite the American Journal of Industrial Medicine to support their claim that Hyatt mistreats its workers.
While this may be the initial strike scheduled to last a week, it wasn't the first altogether. A brief picket in July turned ugly when the hotel switched on 10 heating lamps. Located under the awning to warm guests in the winter, on July 21st they instead heated up already hot picketers on a sweltering day (heat index 109 F).
Although Hyatt spokesman Farley Kern claimed that "Unite Here regularly engages in extreme rhetoric and gamesmanship during contract negotiations. This dishonest attempt to misrepresent the work environment in our properties is well over the line," the action of whoever turned on the heat lamps — and of those who chose to leave them on only until they realized the media was picking up on it — speaks to the contrary.