Hyatt workers protest in San Francisco

workers

SAN FRANCISCO - Some 400 workers at the Hyatt Regency hotel here held a three-day strike June 8-10, to protest the hotel chain's efforts to press them even harder despite a significantly improving financial picture for the hospitality industry generally and the Hyatt chain in particular.

The strikers are among 9,000 San Francisco hotel workers who have been without a contract since last August. The strike also overlapped with the June 9 action in Chicago, in which workers and their supporters forced suspension of the Hyatt corporation's annual shareholders' meeting.

Cynthia Reed, a telephone operator at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco for over 20 years, told the World that Hyatt is proposing to raise current workers' pay by a meager 10 cents an hour, and wants to establish a two-tier system, with new workers paid significantly less than the current hourly wage and receiving no health care benefits.

"They just did a $1 million renovation of the health club, and now they want to renovate the business center," Reed said. "Painters are painting 24/7. They have money for that but not for workers who serve their customers every day."

The union representing the workers, Unite Here! Local 2, points out that in San Francisco, hotel industry revenue is projected to grow by 4 percent in the rest of 2010, 12 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2012.

Unite Here! also says that since Hyatt made its initial public offering last November, its share have risen by 50 percent, and as recently as March, Hyatt had $1.3 billion cash on hand.

Topping the list of issues in the San Francisco negotiations are workload protections, keeping affordable health care benefits, securing retirement, and protecting the right of non-union workers to freely choose whether to form a union.

All three Hyatts in this city - the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf as well as the Hyatt Regency - are now under worker-initiated boycotts.

Photo: Marilyn Bechtel

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