Published: 05/11/2010

Revenue and earnings are up at the upscale Hyatt Hotels chain, and the company is sitting on a pile of cash on the prowl for acquisitions. Hyatt workers, however, say the company is seeking to lock them into recession through outsourcing, speedup, bargaining concessions and fierce resistance to recruitment and organizing by the IUF-affiliated Unite Here!

Hyatt’s third quarter results show an increase in revpar (revenue per available room) of 7.5 percent at full-service hotels in North America and a whopping 17 percent internationally. Hyatt’s share price is up 40% for 2010. But as contracts expire in cities in Canada and the US, management is insisting on rolling back conditions and benefits for already low-paid workers.

Last year, Hyatt fired 98 room cleaners at its three hotels in the Boston area. Before getting the sack, however, the long-serving workers were required to train their own replacements – subcontracted workers paid the minimum wage.

Hyatt, says the union, is inflicting physical pain, injury and even permanent disability on its workers as well as economic hardship. Speedup has room cleaners called upon to clean up to 30 rooms in a single shift – double the normal work load. A recent article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed Hyatt housekeepers having the highest rate of injury of all the hotels studied – and double the injury rate for the lowest.

The union is fighting back with demonstrations, boycotts, industrial action, including national strike action, and coalition building. The call to boycott the Boston Hyatt until the workers are rehired has received wide support, including from the state governor.