Hyatt Hotel Workers Renew Call For Boycott, Rally For Fairness
Hotel workers and their supporters planned to picket outside the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle Thursday evening, renewing a call for a boycott of the two Hyatt hotels in the city.
The housekeepers at the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt at Olive 8 say they want a fair process to form a union. The hotels' owner, R.C. Hedreen Company, has declined to enter into a national agreement the workers say would protect their labor rights.
“Hyatt workers in Seattle deserve the same as Hyatt workers around the country," said Stefan Moritz, political director of Unite Here Local 8 and organizer of the rally and the boycott. "Workers in California, Maryland, Connecticut have all voted to join the union in a fair elections process, and there’s really no reason that Hyatt workers in Seattle shouldn’t have the same opportunity, where you can make your choice free of fear and management intimidation.”
The workers say the owner has told them they can call the police if they feel intimidated by union organizers and has posted anti-union flyers in the hotels.
Hedreen Company vice president Greg Harris says the national agreement stemmed from a labor dispute with Hyatt hotels in other cities and the Seattle properties are not subject to it; they were not notified when the agreement was signed. He says federal laws are in place to protect workers’ rights to unionize.
“And we think that fairness is provided for by the procedures outlined in the National Labor Relations Act,” Harris said.
He also says the Hedreen Company does not technically employ the workers, as the properties are managed by the Hyatt corporation.
Unite Here called for a boycott of the two Hyatt hotels a year ago and says five nonprofits have canceled events and dozens of others are honoring the boycott. The union also has the support of many elected officials, including insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler and the Seattle City Council.
The union adds that at a time when Seattle hotels are booking record rates for rooms and building new properties all over the city, these workers are hardly making enough to pay their rents.
“Housekeepers are scrubbing toilets on their hands and knees, and are struggling for basic dignity and respect,” Moritz said.