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Hotel Workers Use Labor Day to Press Boycott of Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
Hotel service workers of the union Unite Here! Local 19 marked Labor Day by picketed the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, which has been the target of a boycott campaign launched by the union six months ago. Hyatt workers, who have been without a contract with the hotel, have been demanding recognition of the union through a card-check / neutrality agreement.
On Labor Day, September 5, 2011, some 200 hotel workers of the labor union Unite Here! Local 19 and their community supporters picketed the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara adjacent to the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. They passed out flyers to guests at the hotel, requesting them to “check out” and honor the ongoing boycott of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara.
Using a mixture of English and Spanish while alternately raising and lowering their signs, the picketers chanted: “Workers – arriba! Bosses – abajo! Union – arriba! Hotel – abajo!”
The thrust of the union’s campaign is to negotiate a labor contract with the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara that includes a card-check / neutrality agreement whereby workers can freely sign cards expressing their desire to join a union without fear of reprisal from the employer, and the employer and union agree to refrain from unduly influencing workers during the voting process. Other objectives include liveable wages, humane workloads, and affordable family healthcare.
Unite Here! considers the card-check / neutrality agreement an essential alternative to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) procedures that have severely eroded union membership and the collective bargaining power of unions after the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.
Eleazar Dumuk, who works as a housekeeper in the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, came out to address the picket during her lunch break, saying, “We want a fair process to choose a union.”
The management of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara has argued that its workers do not want a union, yet has declined to let the workers decide through an impartial vote. Hotel management has cited the fact that a section of its workers have actually demonstrated against the union during previous pickets. What management declines to discuss are the reports that anti-union workers have been actively encouraged and supported by management.
While the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara has refused to sign a contract with Unite Here!, the union points to the Hilton Santa Clara across the street which has signed such a contract and is doing well.
Unite Here! spokesperson, Katy Rose, pointed out that, while contract negotiations take place with individual hotels, the Hyatt Regency hotels have been more resistant than other hotel chains to sign union contracts and to accept card-check / neutrality agreements.
The union launched its boycott of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara on February 23, 2011. Since then, Ms. Rose said that the union has successfully obtained commitments from several organizations and companies to not book rooms and events at the hotel.
Unite Here! represents over 100,000 workers in the hotel, food service, casino, and laundry industries in the United States and Canada. Unite Here! Local 19 represents thousands of such workers in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
The jobs affected by the contract negotiations include housekeepers, food service workers, cooks, dishwashers, bellpersons, front desk clerks, and lobby attendants.
The picket was supported by a wide variety of labor unions, local religious leaders, and activists for economic justice, immigrant rights, and peace.
Hyatt Regency housekeeper Eleazar Dumuk addressed the picket during her lunch break.
Hotel workers and their supporters picket to draw attention to their call for boycott of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara for its unjust labor practices.