Today I had the privilege of joining over a dozen Hyatt workers and representatives from numerous allied organizations at the National Press Club for the launch of a global boycott of Hyatt hotels. In the room stood members from the labor movement, the religious community, and progressive organizations. We were there to show Hyatt that we expect more from them.
Hyatt workers called for the boycott as a drastic next step after co-workers at the company’s non-union locations have repeatedly been denied the basic right to form a union through a fair process. Meanwhile, Hyatt sets a faster pace for work, pushes more dangerous conditions on workers, and tries to replace full time employees with temporary workers earning minimum wage. In fact, this year, Hyatt became the first company in the hotel industry to ever receive a warning letter from the federal government concerning its dangerous working conditions.
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. Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, 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 reminded us 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.
That’s what this campaign comes down to: dignity and respect. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted, you don’t get the 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.
Fortunately, there’s a role we can all play in supporting Hyatt workers. Go here and help get the word out about Hyatt by voting the company the worst hotel employer in America.