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18 September 2009 @ 01:19 pm
Politics / Union  
I heard this on NPR this morning ( http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=3 , look for "Hotel Housekeepers Protest Mass Firing in Boston"), and this news story is a good summary of the radio clip.

To summarize the summary, housekeepers at the Hyatt Regency in Boston were asked to train "temporary workers to cover vacations". Last month, the housekeepers were laid off -- escorted out of the building by security, no less! -- and the so-called temporaries were hired through a contractor based in Georgia. Lucine Williams, who was interviewed on NPR as well as in this story, said (paraphrased), "I don't know what I did wrong, I worked for Hyatt for 21 years, my son has asthma, I don't know what I'm going to do."

I can tell her what she did "wrong". She made $15/hour and had insurance and a 401(k). The contractors will be paid $8/hour with no benefits.

According to Hoover's (don't know the date of this information), the Executive Chairman of Hyatt Hotels had a salary of $535,000 and a bonus of $1,400,000.
The President / CEO / Director had a salary of $1,000,000 and a bonus of $810,000.
The COO North America had a salary of $577,500 and a bonus of $16,646.



http://wbztv.com/local/hyatt.housekeeping.layoffs.2.1190030.html

Sep 17, 2009 10:18 pm US/Eastern
Workers Laid Off By Hyatt Rally In Boston

Reporting Ron Sanders BOSTON (WBZ) ―

Supporters of fired Hyatt hotel workers are picketing the Hyatt Regency Boston near Downtown Crossing right now. Unionized organizers say the reason for the rally is that 130 women who are non-union housekeepers were fired without warning after being required to train new workers who have now replaced them.

"People just started crying. I was like 'oh my God,' said Lucine Williams, fighting back tears.

The veteran housekeeper told us how after nearly 22 years at the Hyatt Regency Boston she and her co-workers lost their jobs August 31st.

"Everybody is in disbelief. People still crying, wanting to understand what's going on. After working here so long, how can you treat people like that, just get up and say I no longer need you anymore...They're human beings. They're human beings."

The union now advocating for them says the housekeepers fired from the Hyatt Regency Cambridge and the Hyatt Harborside at Logan Airport, as well as the Hyatt in Boston, are being replaced by employees of Hospitality Staffing Solutions, a Marietta Georgia company, at roughly half their wages and without benefits the fired workers had, such as health, dental and 401k.

"In the history of Boston hotels, this has never happened and we're not going to let it happen here," said Janice Loux, President of Unite Here Local 26.

Hyatt Hotels released a statement Thursday night saying the company had to make very difficult decisions due to the unprecedented economic client.

"Unfortunately, these decisions have affected our associates at Boston-area properties. A restructuring of our housekeeping services included staff reductions that we deeply regret."

The company also said it's providing those who were laid off with assistance, including severance and outplacement counseling.

While a hospitality industry research group has said this is one of the worst years on record for hotels, the recession has also been daunting for its workers such as Lucine Williams, a single mother who has a 13-year-old son with asthma.

She says, after she was fired, she picked up extra medication for him before her insurance runs out.

"I understand health care is going up. Every year, it's killing everybody...What happened to America? It's a beautiful country and people treat you like that, to save a buck?"
(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
 
 
 
drewkittydrewkitty on September 18th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
In my personal life I am heavily biased against unions. Yet this sort of thing is exactly why they do in fact occupy a legitimate place in society.

Hyatt also just lost a customer.
marnanel on September 18th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
What happened to America?

Like this didn't happen in the past? This is the country which gave the world the Pinkertons, after all.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 18th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
People aren't taught in school about the Pinkertons; they're taught that America is the land of opportunity, where if you work hard you will be rewarded.
stonetalkerstonetalker on September 18th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Through no fault of my own, my CNA hours were cut from 29 to 4 (one client swapped homemakers, two clients died). My supervisor would rather find me hours than the girl who has superiority over me, because the clients don't like her. However, now that we are a union shop, the hours have to go to her. So we have clients who are being serviced by a homemaker they don't like (which stresses them out to the point of looking for another agency), and the homemaker they want is being forced to look for employment elsewhere because she can't crack it only working 4 hours a week. Just the other side of the coin...
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 18th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
That's a valid point, that unions aren't a panacea.
seawaspseawasp on September 18th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
What is needed is the unfettered ability to FORM unions, but also to act without them, as some of the comments show. We do NOT need a return to the days of the Pinkertons and various union-busting tactics, where bosses arranged union organizers to have special underwater vacations. I'd be happy if there were ways of slapping stupid union behavior without going to those extremes, though.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 19th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
*nods* I'm in favor of EFCA but not of closed shops.
Spark_in_darknesssparkindarkness on September 18th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Dear gods those poor people.

I think this is proof of why unions are needed - so people aren't treated like disposable assets AND proof of why health insurance (AND pensions) shouldn't be linked to your job - it's too much of a crushing hammer to hold over employees and makes it all the more devastating when they lose it
zemhitchhiker on September 18th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
yes, definitely! if obama does nothing else in his entire four-to-eight-years, i hope he manages to comprehensively reform healthcare. your job really shouldn't be able to affect you to that extent.
Wolfteddywolf on September 21st, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Arisia is leaving then, though in truth the con was a bit big for the hotel anyways.