“Hyatt Hurts”: A UNITE(d) Push for Workers Rights

Editor July 27, 2012 0

By Johnny K. Dangers and Michael N. Royer
Arizona Free Press | azfreepress.org

Why on a 102 degree day would 200-300 protesters be picketing the Hyatt Regency hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona? Perhaps the community understands that the workers’ fight is also now their fight. They want to be treated with respect, have better working conditions and improved health care benefits.

The Union UNITE HERE created the website www.hyatthurts.org, in order to give voice to hospitality workers. The website states: “After many years of Struggle, Hyatt workers and allies launched a global boycott of Hyatt on July 23, 2012… The global Hyatt boycott  has been endorsed virtually every union representing hotel workers worldwide. Additionally, over 5,000 individuals and organizations have pledged to honor boycotts called by Hyatt workers.”

“In conjunction with the boycott launch, allies will join workers this week in a call to action of more than 2 million online and a full week of protests in 20 US cities, including Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Boston.” [1]

In an interview with the Arizona Free Press, one of the Hyatt Regency employees, Fernando, stated: “I’m here at the picket line to support my fellow workers and also to stand up to the company [Hyatt]… to show that people want to be treated with respect and have better benefits”. Fernando also said that the health insurance that Hyatt offers (Aetna) was an excuse for health insurance, and even his doctor says that the insurance is crap, and Aetna won’t pay for anything. When asked how the picket line went, Fernando felt that it was great; had a good turnout (‘more than expected’); and that they got their message across.

UNITE HERE Local 631’s website states that “UNITE HERE Local 631 has been raising the standard for Arizona hospitality workers since 1912. We represent 2000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airport concessions and in-flight catering.” The UNITE HERE Local 631 coordinated the picket line protest in Scottsdale with support of various local organizations, such as: Adios Arpaio, NOW, One in Ten, the city of Scottsdale and Maricopa County Democratic parties, Team Awesome, and other allies. Nationally, UNITE HERE organized other protests around the country on July 26th, putting pressure on the Hyatt corporation.

In a strong and powerful statement of solidarity, the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) Executive Director, DeMaurice F. Smith, came out in support of the hospitality workers against Hyatt. In his letter, Smith referenced that “Hyatt is the first hotel company in U.S. history to receive a companywide warning from the federal government for health and safety hazards workers face on the job”. The NFLPA has pledged to boycott Hyatt, while Smith called on the company to collaborate with its workers.

When asked for his feelings about the NFLPA’s support, Fernando said, “The workers make things happen for companies… the same way that the NFL players are the heart of the company.”

“Without the players, or the workers, the company doesn’t have much.”

Therein lies the truth that corporations often forget: Workers are the backbone of business.

Cited Source: [1] www.hotelworkersrising.org/News/press_release