Rallying to support the Hyatt 100

October 13, 2009

BOSTON--Housekeeping workers at three Boston-area Hyatt Hotels remain without jobs since their peremptory firing on August 31. The workers, who supporters call the "Hyatt 100," are demanding full reinstatement of their jobs, which had been outsourced to United Services Company (USC).

USC is paying its workers the Massachusetts minimum wage of $8 per hour with no benefits. Before they were fired, the Hyatt hospitality workers received over $15 an hour, including benefits. Some of the employees had worked for 20 years or longer at Hyatt.

The move seems unrelated to any necessary cost containment plan, as the hotel chain boasted a $1.3 billion profit from 2004-2008.

The firings have prompted demonstrations of solidarity locally and nationally. In Chicago, hundreds of hotel workers affiliated with UNITE HERE and their supporters staged a sit-down protest at the Chicago Park Hyatt.

Members of the Boston Taxi Drivers Association have refused to pick up or drop off fares at the Boston-area Hyatts. And Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has threatened a boycott of the hotels by state employees.

One day after Patrick made his announcement on September 25, Hyatt management offered to extend workers' health benefits through March 2010 and to give them positions at their former rate of pay with USC through the end of 2010. They also offered them unspecified job training and outplacement to new careers.

Hyatt workers have stood firm in their demands, with UNITE HERE providing ongoing support to the nonunion workers throughout the crisis. Many other labor and activist groups are also lending their support. One student at nearby Brookline High School, which had been planning a spring prom at Hyatt, was able to get the event canceled and changed to a different venue.

Marching on October 1, more than 100 Boston unionists and supporters, including many LGBT rights advocates, demonstrated in support of the Hyatt 100. Jennifer Doe of Jobs with Justice issued a two-word response to Hyatt's attack on workers: "Boycott Hyatt!" The nationwide boycott will remain in effect until the workers are rehired. Brian Lang of UNITE HERE Local 26 urges all interested persons to follow updates at the union's Web site.

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