“The protest comes during one of Seattle’s largest hotel booms in at least the last decade.”
“The workers say the owner has told them they can call the police if they feel intimidated by union organizers and has posted anti-union flyers in the hotels.”
While Seattle is becoming one of the hottest hotel markets in the country, hundreds marched with picket signs at the Grand Hyatt Seattle in the first of a series of picket lines outside the boycotted hotel. Workers scrubbing toilets at the Grand Hyatt Seattle and Hyatt at Olive 8 called for a boycott over one year ago, after years of struggling for dignity and respect.
Seattle hotel rooms were the most expensive in the country this past Labor Day weekend according to TravelMag.com, a trend market analysts expect to continue.
In response, workers have called for a fair process to form a union. In July of 2013, UNITE HERE and Hyatt Hotels at the corporate level reached a national agreement on such a process, which has gone forward at other Hyatts in the U.S. So far, Richard Hedreen, the local owner of the Grand Hyatt Seattle and Hyatt at Olive 8 has refused to implement the agreed elections process in Seattle.
Five non-profits have canceled or moved events out of the two boycotted Hyatts since last August, including local women’s shelter API Chaya. Over thirty state and local non-profits have endorsed the boycott, and dozens of politicians, including Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
“We have very hard jobs and we deserve to be treated the same. My job duties are stripping linens, emptying the trash, and helping the housekeepers. I am tired all the time,” said Yuan Ping Tang, who works in housekeeping at the Hyatt at Olive 8. “Seattle’s hotels have been very busy this summer. All we are asking is to take care of our families. The workers in other Hyatt across the country have won the fair process. We deserve the same,” he added.
While Hyatt workers in Long Beach, CA, Emeryville, CA, Greenwich, CT and Baltimore, MD have used the fair elections process and joined UNITE HERE, workers in Seattle are still waiting for local ownership to let them choose whether or not to join a union free from management intimidation.
“I think it is unfair that workers in Seattle doing the same job that I do are treated differently from me and my co-workers in California,” said Maria Aguilar, a Hyatt housekeeper from Emeryville, CA who traveled to Seattle for today’s event.
“After hearing about the worker struggle, it was an easy decision for us to cancel our participation in the Bar Association’s award ceremony at the Hyatt last year,” said Martin Garfinkel, a Seattle attorney who was slated to receive a major award at the event. “As a community and as consumers we need to support Hyatt workers wherever we can. And honoring the boycott is the first step,” he added.
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Since late August, Seattle Hyatt hotel workers and their supporters at UNITE HERE Local 8 have conducted a boycott of the Hyatt at Olive 8 and the Grand Hyatt Seattle in response to the hotels’ difficult working conditions, unaffordable healthcare, and use of subcontracted workers.