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Women workers at Hyatt face huge health risks.

December 6, 2009

A study found that women hotel workers were 1.5 times more likely to suffer injuries than males. Injuries to Hispanic women hotel workers were double that of white women. Meanwhile, Asian and Hispanic male employee injuries were 1.5 times greater than whites.

Susan Buchanan, MD, of the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health, is the lead author of the study, presented at a recent meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia. “These alarming results raise many questions as to why injury rates are so high for women and Hispanic and Asian workers in the hotel sector,” she said.

Not surprsingly, the Chicago-based Hyatt Hotel chain dismissed the results of the study.

“While we take seriously all valid research regarding workplace safety, we have not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the data and design of the Unite Here study,” said Amy Patti, a Hyatt spokeswoman. “However, it is clear to us that the union’s conclusions are not consistent with the workplace environment in our hotels.”

John Wilhelm, the president of Unite Here, disagrees with Patti. “Hyatt, with the highest reported injury rate for housekeepers, needs to make changes immediately that will keep housekeepers safe and pain-free at work,” he said.

Unite Here’s labor contracts with Hyatt in Chicago and San Francisco ended in August. Union workers in San Francisco protested the stalled talks with a three-day strike before returning to work in November.

Every fifth employee in the study worked in housekeeping, and had the highest risk of being hurt, researchers found.

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