Hyatt Boycott Highlights Unfair Working Conditions
May 18, 2012 9:14 am
An article in the Los Angeles Times this week hints at the growing correlation between employers’ increasing reliance on temporary workers and substandard working conditions:
“Employment in temporary services grew 8.7% from April of last year to the same month this year, compared with just a 3.5% gain for the broader category of professional and business services over the same period,” writes reporter Alana Semuels. “In some industries such as warehousing and hospitality, a growing minority of workers are contract employees, hired through staffing services with no direct connection to the place they show up for work every day.”
Hyatt Hotels’ treatment of employees well represents this nightmare scenario for precarious workers in the hospitality industry. The hotel giant is currently the target of a nationwide boycott due to its labor practices.
Hyatthurts.org, a site advocating a boycott of the Hyatt for its unfair treatment of workers, writes: “On January 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, subcontracted hotel workers filed a federal wage and hour violations lawsuit against the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, the subcontractor Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS), and nine other major hotels. Ten days later, Hyatt announced that it had cut its contract with HSS, putting in jeopardy the jobs of 20 hotel workers.”
A clergy report on working conditions at Hyatt Hotels delves further into the controversy, saying, “On August 31, 2009, all 98 housekeepers at the Hyatt Corporation’s three Boston area hotels were fired in one day and all housekeeping was outsourced to Hospitality Staffing Solutions. Many of the fired housekeepers had worked for Hyatt for over 20 years. Many were required to train their replacements before being fired, being told that their trainees were vacation replacements. Before being fired, the housekeepers had made about $15 an hour plus benefits and cleaned 16 rooms a day. Housekeepers at Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS) start at the minimum wage of $8.00 per hour. They reportedly receive no sick days, vacation days, health care or pension, and they are required to clean up to 30 rooms a day.”
According to the AFL-CIO, Hyatt has reportedly threatened pro-union workers, presumably because their slash and burn outsourcing model would be impossible with an organized workforce. Wage and hour complaints, high injury rates, and deplorable working conditions plague the corporation, and have rightfully led to a nationwide call to action against the hotel chain.
Hyatt workers in Indianapolis and elsewhere have recently found solidarity in local government. Writes Semuels for the LA Times: “The Indianapolis City-County Council introduced a bill Monday that would prevent hotels from restricting contract employees from working elsewhere and from working directly for the hotels.”
Brian Mahern, a City-County councilor, is one of the sponsors of an amendment proposing an end the contracts between hotels and work agencies. “When allowed to exploit, sometimes people will,” he said.
Click here to learn more about efforts to help Hyatt workers.
Image from here