Although they are not in the union, 78 of the 100 fired Boston Hyatt housekeepers met late yesterday at the Unite Here Local 26 office and voted unanimously to reject the hotel chain’s offer to place them in jobs with a staffing organization.
After the meeting at a press conference across the street from the Hyatt Regency Boston the women chanted “No Way Hyatt” as Janice Loux, president of the union local, declared an official boycott against the Hyatt.
Workers at the press conference made it clear that they will settle for nothing less than reinstatement in their full-time jobs and that they did not want temporary jobs designed to put other workers out on the street.
The union-led boycott will involve a major national campaign by Unite Here to convince Hyatt customers to cease doing business with the hospitality giant.
Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, meanwhile, is continuing with plans for a state boycott against Hyatt. His intention is to withhold all state business from the chain.
Hyatt ignited a firestorm of protests across the country after it had its housekeepers in Boston train workers from a staffing agency. The housekeepers were told the trainees would be vacation replacements but when the training was complete the workers were fired and replaced by the trainees who earned half the pay.
Hundreds of workers were arrested in massive peaceful civil disobedience actions last week at Hyatt hotels as far away as Chicago and San Francisco.
Responding to all the pressure on Friday, Hyatt offered the fired Boston housekeepers “full-time” positions with United Services Companies, a Chicago-based staffing outfit that provides low-wage labor to hospitals, hotels and retail stores.
Hyatt, in an attempt to sweeten its offer, said that if the fired workers accept a job with the outfit they will be guaranteed their Hyatt rate of pay through the end of next year and their Hyatt health benefits through the end of March.
Those who don’t take that offer, Hyatt said, would be offered “career assistance” and receive their Hyatt wages through the end of March.
Hyatt is already losing scheduled business conventions and regular guests are getting on the Internet and blogging about plans they are making to register at other hotels.
Angela Norena, a fired housekeeper at a Boston hotel, participated in the civil disobedience action in Chicago last week.
“You cannot imagine how bad they were to us.,” she said, as she prepared to sit, in protest, in the middle of the street outside a Chicago Hyatt. “I came to America 21 years ago and for all those years worked my fingers to the bone for them here in the land of opportunity.
“They came to me and said ‘don’t worry, you are too important for us to lose. Just train this person so we have someone here when you are on vacation.’ I believed them. I taught the person everything I knew. And then they came to me and said, ‘we don’t need you anymore.’ I’m mad as hell. After 21 years I made $15.22 an hour and they kicked me out and replaced me with the woman I trained. They are paying her $8.00 an hour.”
Hyatt Regency Boston manager Phil Stamm was “on the phone” every time the Peoples World reached his office for comment, according to his administrative assistant. He did not answer requests for a return call.