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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Labor & Workers
Workers Call Boycott at Two San Francisco Hotels
HEI Le Meridien and Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf Workers Take to the Streets
(February 24, 2009, San Francisco, CA) – Hundreds of hotel workers and community members will march through downtown San Francisco to call on visitors to boycott two major hotels: the HEI Le Meridien and the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf. The march will begin today, February 24, 2009 at 4:15 p.m. from Justin Herman Plaza (Market and Embarcadero). It will conclude in front of the HEI Le Meridien hotel, a few blocks away.
Building on UNITE HERE Local 2’s Hotel Workers Rising campaign, workers at these hotels are seeking respect, job security and better livelihoods for themselves and their families. HEI and Hyatt workers have called on management to respect their choice whether or not to form a union through the majority sign-up process – the same process used by numerous other hotels in San Francisco and across the US.
Even in the midst of the current economic downturn, the Hyatt Corporation is expanding its worldwide reach. HEI Hotels & Resorts – one of the country’s fastest growing hotel owners – has announced plans to acquire $1.5 billion of additional luxury properties in the coming months. At the same time, over 340 hospitality workers and their families at these two San Francisco hotels face unfair layoffs, unaffordable healthcare, and a lack of respect on the job.
Nancy Li, a waitress at Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf for 12 years says, “We work long, hard hours. Many people in our industry work two jobs or more – we often work back-to-back shifts – all just to make ends meet. It’s tough to provide quality service to the guests.”
Workers at many other San Francisco hotels, including the InterContinental and St. Regis hotels, have been able to form a union through the majority sign-up process. Most of the major hotel corporations operating in San Francisco – including the Hyatt Corporation – have adopted it for hotels they open in the future.
Peter Ho, a lobby porter who has worked at HEI’s Le Meridien for 19 years, said “We want the same opportunities as other hotel workers in San Francisco. If it’s good enough for workers at other hotels, why not for us? We’ve given years of service to these hotels. We just want respect.”
Despite workers’ repeated appeals to adopt the majority sign-up process, HEI and Hyatt have both refused. As a result, workers at both the HEI Le Meridien and the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf have signed petitions calling on guests to stop using these hotels. These are the first hotel boycotts in San Francisco since Local 2’s 2004-2006 contract dispute.
San Francisco hotel workers are not alone in calling on these two companies for respect. Similar efforts are under way at other hotels, including the HEI Hilton in Long Beach, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, and the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis.
In their efforts to win a majority sign-up agreement, HEI and Hyatt workers have received widespread community support. President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, has said “Hotel workers and the hotel industry are critical to our city’s economy, and we ask the Hyatt and HEI owners to respect workers’ choice to organize freely as other San Francisco hotel companies already do.” Elected officials and over 200 community and religious leaders have already endorsed this boycott.
In addition, students at universities invested with HEI have called on their schools to lend support to hotel workers. Students at Brown, Chicago, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, and other campuses are organizing in connection with this campaign. At a recent demonstration in front of HEI’s Hilton Long Beach, Cornell student Emma Schwartz stated, “HEI gets a lot of its monies from universities, and we don't want our monies to go to hotels who don't respect their workers”.
Following the demonstration tonight, Hyatt and HEI workers are reaching out to hotel guests calling on them to boycott the two San Francisco hotels until the companies respect their workers’ demands.
UNITE HERE! Local 2 is the union of food service and hotel workers in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. It represents about 13,000 members in the hospitality industry. For more information visit http://www.unitehere2.org or contact Riddhi Mehta at 707-695-2364 or rmehta [at] unitehere2.org