Earlier this week I received a message from NEA Board of Directors member from Illinois, Kathi Griffith. I posted it here. I guess her message was written in an attempt to justify holding our state convention at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont. I don’t buy it.
She explained that technically Unite Here, the union representing most of the hotel employees working for the Chicago-based Hyatt chain, was not calling for a boycott of the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont.
The Rosemont property is not only managed by Hyatt, but is owned by the Pritzker family. The Pritzkers are not only well-connected Democrats, close to President Obama, but big money opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act and Labor.
Today, AFL-CIO announced that its president, Richard Trumka will be in San Francisco. He will join several hundred members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, UNITE-HERE President John Wilhelm and community supporters for a march and rally to demand a fair contract for workers at several national hotel chains, including the Hyatt chain.
The profitable chains also include Hilton and Starwood. All three are using the recession as an excuse to demand health care benefit cuts and wage increases in contract talks with more than 16,000 workers at dozens of hotels in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities. On Thursday, he will join workers for a rally and picket in front of the Hyatt Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
What the hell are we doing using my and other member’s dues money for a meeting at a Pritzker-owned Hyatt Hotel?
Readers will remember that I have raised concerns about the IEA holding its March Representative Assembly (RA) at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont. This became an issue last Spring when the Chicago-based Hyatt chain fired 100 housekeepers at three of their Boston Hotels.
I expressed my concerns to IEA President Ken Swanson in a letter. He never responded and has not responded to this day.
I did receive an email from Kathi Griffith, an IEA member who sits on the NEA Board of Directors. She assured me that the issue had come up at the October Board meeting and a full report would be presented in December.
Today I received this from Kathi:
We hope that you had a wonderful holiday.
We wanted to get back to you regarding your concerns regarding Hyatt properties.
At our December NEA Board of Directors meeting we received information that NEA had gathered regarding this issue. What they recommended was that “NEA boycott only the following Columbia Sussex hotels included on the Unite Here boycott list: The Hilton Anchorage, Hilton Crystal City-National Airport and the Sheraton Baltimore-City Center.”
Unite Here focuses on individual properties and has not boycotted hotel owners or hoel (sic) brands. The Columbia Sussex properties included on the boycott list are the ones listed in the paragraph above. These three properties are in contentious bargaining disputes or have failed to negotiate successor agreements with employees who now work without a contract.
Columbia Sussex Hotels owns 71 hotels around the country including Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Doubletree, Hilton, Holiday Inn, JW Marriott, Sheraton Westin and Wyndham. NEA currently has contract s with two Columbia Sussex properties, however niether is included on Unite Here’s boycott list.
We have the two page document that NEA gave to us that I would be happy to share with you, just ask.
Kathi and Al
When I checked on United Here’s web site, the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont is not on the boycott list. It does remain on the “Risk of Dispute” list.
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.
Go to Unite-Here’s web site and find out that the Hyatt Rosemont is listed as having a “risk of dispute.”
“May the eyes of the Hyatt management be opened and may their hearts be softened. May they recognize they’ve made an error in judgment. May they repent the cruelty and immorality of their acts and may they open their doors to welcome these women [and men] back into their jobs again.” – Rabbi Barbara Pensner of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury
“You know they’ll talk a lot about outsourcing. Well, you can’t outsource a waitress, you can’t outsource a bartender…why don’t you take those that have come to this nation, all colors, all hues, all races, and see the value of the rainbow; cause god didn’t make no junk. And from what I have heard of these hotel workers, you are fine workers and you are not going to stand alone…we stand as one and we win as one.” – Minister Don Muhammad of Mosque 11 in Boston’s South End.
Open Media Boston reports on the rally of several hundred outside the Boston Hyatt Regency Hotel, where nearly 100 housekeepers fired by the Chicago based Hyatt Hotel chain still wait for their jobs to be returned to them.
The Hyatt Rosemont will be the site of the IEA state convention this Spring.
The Pritzker-owned Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels, which includes the Hyatt Rosemont where the IEA holds its annual state convention in the Spring, is one of the least safe places to work among the five major hotel chains.
A peer-reviewed study of 50 hotels in the United States suggests that Hyatt housekeepers are almost twice as likely to suffer on-the-job injuries as their Hilton counterparts. Looking at all hotel jobs, Hyatt places fourth for safety among the top five hospitality chains.
The Chicago Tribune’s business page runs a story today reporting that stock analysts from Green Street Advisors call the Hyatt’s IPO “the worst in the universe.”
The Trib then goes on to describe the “souring” negotiating situation between Unite Here and the Pritizker owned hotel chain.
Hotel union Unite Here questioned the independence of Hyatt board members and vilified the proposed dual-class stock structure that would give Pritzker family members 10 times more voting power per share than Hyatt investors.
The Trib went on to say:
Unite Here, involved in souring contract negotiations with Hyatt in Chicago, called the IPO “a series of reinforcing corporate-control structures which serve to protect current management and shareholders to the potential detriment of public investors.”
I can only wince as I read these reports. There has been no response from IEA leadership. They will not answer member concerns about holding the IEA Representative Assembly at the Pritzker family owned Hyatt Rosemont other than that the NEA Board of Directors is scheduled to receive a report on the situation with the Hyatt chain in December.
Delegates to the RA will be elected in December.
I am running as a delegate. I am pledged to run as a delegate who will not attend if Unite Here continues to call for a nationwide boycott of Hyatt and the RA is held at a Hyatt. I would encourage all other delegate candidates to do the same.
The clock is ticking.
The NEA Alaska has canceled it’s contract with the Hilton chain. The Hilton is locked in a contract battle with Unite Here.
The Illinois Education Association is still scheduled to hold it’s state Representative Assembly at the Hyatt Rosemont in March. The Hyatt is locked in a fierce anti-union battle with Unite Here and has been blasted for firing 100 housekeepers at it’s Boston hotels.
The Alaska chapter of the National Education Association has been monitoring the lack of progress in contract negotiations between the Anchorage Hilton Hotel and its bellmen, housekeepers, food servers, and other employee groups for some months. These hardworking Alaskans, members of Unite HERE Local 878, have been attempting to bargain a new contract for more than a year, and hotel management shows no signs that it is willing to settle.
According to press reports, the union representing the women who were fired as housekeepers at the Boston Hyatt have called for a nation wide boycott of the Hyatt chain.
NBUR Public Radio:
A union advocating for the housekeepers fired from Hyatt’s Boston-area hotels is calling for a nationwide boycott of the hotel chain.
The nearly 100 housekeepers who lost their jobs said they would turn down the hotel company’s offer from Friday to extend benefits until March and housekeeping work at other hotels.
“When I heard about the offer, I think it was a joke,” said former Hyatt Regency housekeeper Lucine Williams. “Just because we clean the rooms, they think that we don’t have no sense!”
Williams was joined by a few dozen other housekeepers and six Boston city councilors Monday in officially calling for a nationwide boycott of the hotel chain. Hyatt said it will deliver on its promise and that the housekeepers have more time to think it over.
From the National Emplyment Lawyers Association:
National Employment Lawyers Association Cancels With Hyatt Regency Boston Due To Labor Dispute.
The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) has cancelled its contract with the Hyatt Regency Boston because of a labor dispute involving the termination of the hotel’s housekeeping staff. NELA learned on Thursday, September 17, 2009, from various news reports that Hyatt Hotels had fired 130 housekeepers at its three Boston area hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Boston. The Hyatt Regency Boston was to be the site of NELA’s upcoming Fall Seminar, “Surviving Summary Judgment In Employment Litigation,” on October 23-24, 2009.
On September 18, 2009, several hundred hotel workers and their supporters rallied in front of the Hyatt Regency Boston in support of the fired housekeepers, while elected officials and others decried the Hyatt’s actions. “As an organization whose mission is to advance employee rights and serve lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the workplace, we cannot patronize a venue that is the center of a very serious labor dispute,” said NELA President Bruce A. Fredrickson.
At this time, NELA does not anticipate canceling its seminar, and is working with INMEX (www.inmex.org), the non-profit arm of UNITE/HERE which provides socially responsible meeting planning services, to find another Boston area hotel for the same October dates.