Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cambridge Mayor on Hyatt Hotel Boycott

When the housekeepers at the three Hyatt hotels in the Boston area were asked to train some new workers, they said they were told the trainees would be filling in during vacations.

On Aug. 31, staffers learned the full story: None of them would be making the beds and cleaning the showers any longer. All of them were losing their jobs. The trainees, it turns out, were employees of a Georgia company, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, who were replacing them that day.

The American Library Association Midwinter will be in Boston. The Hyatt is a conference hotel. The Progressive Librarians Guild has called for a boycott of the Hyatt


Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons sent a letter to the president of Hyatt Hotels Corp. yesterday, reiterating her dismay over the dismissal of 98 local housekeepers and stating that the City of Cambridge would no longer do business at the Hyatt unless the workers were reinstated.

"This is the season for charity and neighborliness," she wrote to president Mark Hoplamazian, "and it is not too late for the Hyatt Corporation to do the right thing."

The three local Hyatts - in Cambridge, downtown Boston, and at Logan International Airport
- fired their entire housekeeping staffs Aug. 31 and immediately replaced them with outsourced workers who made half as much money.

Numerous local organizations have boycotted and picketed the hotels, including groups of rabbis, politicians, lawyers, and school children. Hyatt responded to the outcry by offering to hire back the housekeepers through its outsourcing firm, United Service Cos., with their old wage rate guaranteed until the end of next year and health care benefits extended through March. Only six of the workers have accepted the offer.

Hyatt responded to the mayor's letter in a statement: "A boycott will only further threaten the jobs of our associates working in Hyatt properties during the worst economic period in decades."

The Cambridge and Boston city councils have both passed resolutions condemning Hyatt's actions, and Governor Deval Patrick has threatened a state boycott if the housekeepers aren't rehired.

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