"Hyatt Hurts!" is the campaign launched by the union Unite-Here, calling for a boycott of all but a few Hyatt Hotels around the world.
How does Hyatt hurt? Subcontracting jobs to temporary agencies. Working conditions that cause physical pain. Worker intimidation. Turning heat lamps on strikers during a blistering heat wave. For more detailed information on how Hyatt hurts and the boycott, visit www.hyatthurts.org.
In Chicago, as part of a multi-day, multi-city campaign to spotlight abuse suffered by housekeepers at Hyatt Hotels, a flash religious ceremony was held at the reception area of the Chicago Hyatt Regency on East Wacker Drive. Nearly 150 people from the Chicago area entered the Regency in small groups through different entrances. Several people from Oak Park and River Forest took part, including, Sandra Shimon, Brendon Reidy, Anne Tan, Jack Metzgar, Rev. C.J. Hawking and Ron Baiman.
At 11 a.m., Father Larry Dowling of St. Agatha Parish led Mass in support of the housekeepers. The stories of three Chicago-area Hyatt housekeepers formed the centerpiece. We carried file folders into the Hyatt and on the inside of each folder was a photograph of one of the three. When the service began, we unfolded them and held them up.
Carmen Sandoval has worked in housekeeping at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare for more than 30 years. A few years ago, Hyatt got rid of their laundry department where Carmen's husband worked. This added stress to her job as a housekeeper, especially during this economic recession. Carmen says housekeepers are pushed to do more work and work faster, causing injuries. She takes Tylenol every day to complete her shift.
Angela Martinez works as a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. A few years ago, Hyatt renovated the hotel and brought in larger and heavier beds, making her job more difficult. She is unable to lift the mattress because of the pain the additional weight causes. Fitted sheets would help this situation, but unlike other hotels, Hyatt refuses to use these.
Sonia Ordonez used to work as a cook at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for six years. She is a single mother who was fired after speaking out about her working conditions at Hyatt. She has shared her story with community leaders and at an annual shareholder meeting of the Hyatt. Most recently, Sonia wrote a guest blog post for Mother Talkers. To read this remarkable story, go to mothertalkers.com and type in "Sonia Ordonez" in the search bar. Well worth your effort.
We gathered at the Hyatt Regency to support these women as well as all people struggling to put food on their tables and live with dignity. After about 10 minutes, Hyatt Security told us to leave the building. We filed out singing "We Shall Not Be Moved."
The service continued on Wacker Drive in front of the Regency, under the glare of Hyatt Security. When the service was complete, we chanted "We'll be back!"
Come on, Hyatt, make it not so. Prosperity is a fine thing, but not by hurting your workers.
Tom Broderick is an Oak Park resident.