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Labor & Worker Rights Fri Jul 05 2013

UNITE HERE and Hyatt Mending Fences with Ratified Contract

After longstanding disagreements and intense negotiations, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation and UNITE HERE , a hospitality union comprised of Canadian and American workers have finally reached a plausible contract.

The Hyatt Hotel Corporation has been under fire for its unethical employment practices, firing housekeeping staff and replacing them with low-wage workers, relying on temp agencies, and dropping workers who take their lawsuits to court. Additionally, the housekeeping and maintenance staff experienced labor abuses with heavy shift loads and an array of hazardous duties that ranked Hyatt workers with the highest percentage of injuries among hotel companies. The resolution hopes to bring an end to wage abuse, mistreatment of workers and accountability for the Hyatt Corporation. According to a UNITE HERE spokesperson, "In the long struggle folks have been without a contract for four years. Now we are just focused on moving forward."

The recent agreement will lay the foundation for a productive partnership that includes wage increases and a more generous benefits package that will be in effect until 2018. Employees are hoping for "substantial back pay, quality healthcare and pension benefits," says the UNITE HERE spokesperson. The contact includes Hyatt locations in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu.

The highly-anticipated solution also ceased the global boycott of Hyatt hotel which caused a stir around the world. Last June, other unions such as the Broad Coalition and the National Football League Players Association also boycotted Hyatt. Tensions escalated when protesters from The National Organization for Women, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The Black Justice Center, and Christian and Jewish groups held a series of demonstrations across the nation in 2012. The hospitality industry is hoping 2013 turns over a new leaf for their financial stability and employment circumstances.
The UNITE HERE/Hyatt struggle mirrors the famous Congress Plaza Hotel strike in Chicago that ended May 30 after 10 years.
In June 2003, over 130 housekeeping employees went on strike after the hotel's proposal for health care cuts, wage freezes and subcontracting positions. UNITE HERE Local 1 felt they've spread their message, invoked change and effectively decreased hotel business.

"It's [the fight] an example that shows that workers can move forward even in tough economic times, and be a positive example in the industry," states the UNITE HERE spokesperson. Although there are victories for hospitality workers, there are still numerous labor unions that are fighting for the same rights.

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