Hyatt Workers Continue Their Fight

Hyatt Workers Continue Their Fight

Hyatt workers and supporters rally at McKeldin Square in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Hyatt hotel workers and their supporters gathered again on July 26 at McKeldin square.  A crowd of over 150 took up signs that said “Hyatt Hurts!”  This rally was different from the last rally held by the hotel workers on June 21. It included a Hyatt fashion show. Participants were dressed as maids, servers and housekeepers. The purpose was to show many different roles a single Hyatt worker will perform, all for the same pay.

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“Jobs need to stay in Baltimore. We need better benefits and respect for the worker. Workers need choices not just commands. We are tired of working for pennies and skittles,” Hyatt worker Charlotte Knox (pictured above) said.

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Hyatt worker and UNITE HERE member at rally.

Michael Jones worked for Hyatt as a steward for 10 years. “The workers and temps are treated bad. A temp was recently fired for talking to local union, UNITE HERE. Employees are overworked and underpaid.”

Ernie Grecco, Baltimore chapter president of the AFL-CIO attended in support. “It's a tough industry. UNITE HERE local 7 is a good union,” Grecco said.

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Ernie Grecco, Baltimore Chapter president AFL-CIO, in the orange shirt.

Jesus, a member of CASA de Maryland, said, “I'm here to support the workers.”

Veronica Dorsey, a member of United Workers, explained how “Hyatt workers need a living wage to meet basic needs. I don't understand why . . . the world belongs to 1% of the people.”

In addition to CASA de Maryland and United Workers, the AFL-CIO, NAACP, Teamsters, UNITE HERE Local 7, Occupy Baltimore, Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Recs, Community Churches United, Bmore Housing for All, and other organizations and groups attended the march.

Once in front of the Hyatt Regency, located at 300 Light Street here in Baltimore, the group began chanting, “No Justice! No peace!.” Another popular chant was, “What time is it?  It's Union Time!!!” Marchers chanted in protest for a little over an hour. This caught the attention of Hyatt security officers and executives who came out on the parking lot to see what was happening. Baltimore City Police were also on the scene. No arrests were made. The peaceful protest was allowed to go on.

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Baltimore officer at left, Hyatt executives in center and protestors to right and back.

One Hyatt worker was told by security that he couldn't leaflet to employees on the property and was kicked off the premises during the rally. This violates Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act which states, “it shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of rights granted by Section 7.”  The National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to distribute leaflets on their employer's property.

In an official statement, Gail Smith-Howard, Hyatt Regency General Manager, said,

At Hyatt Regency Baltimore, we know employees' well being is fundamental to the success of our business. Forty percent of Hyatt Regency Baltimore associates have more than 10 years of service. We take any decision to engage staffing companies very seriously. Regardless of union representation, Hyatt provides industry-leading wage and benefit packages.

 

The UNITE HERE campaign is not about creating a better workplace at Hyatt hotels, rather an attempt to boost union membership by organizing our associates through a non-democratic and intimidating process. We believe our associates should have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a union with a democractic secret ballot election as the National Labor Relation Board has provided for more than 75 years.

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Christopher and Charlotte, both Hyatt workers.

Workers here in Baltimore will continue their fight until they have a living wage and adequate benefits.

Bonnie Lane writes for  Baltimore's newest street paper, Word on the Street. She has an associate of arts degree in public relations/journalism. Lane is a full-time writer, advocate and activist for the homeless and the 99%.