CHICAGO - Repudiating one of its own employees, this week, Hyatt Hotels announced its nomination of a longtime financial executive and McDonald's Board Member, Cary McMillan, to join its board of directors at its shareholder meeting to be held this June.
The announcement has caused a firestorm of reaction in the ranks of the Hyatt workforce and among community leaders who have been supporting the candidacy of Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper.
Ongoing violation of worker rights by Hyatt is what motivated her to try for a seat on the corporate board, says Youngblood, who has been traveling across the country in the "Someone Like Me" campaign-a national initiative of the Unite Here union to have a worker added to the hotel chain's board. Since late 2012, Youngblood has been speaking with workers and community leaders across the U.S. and rallying support for what she says is much needed reform at Hyatt, which the union has dubbed "The Worst Hotel Employer in America."
"When Hyatt announced its proposal for a new member of its board of directors this week, it doubled-down on its resistance to reforming longstanding labor abuses," said Youngblood, adding, "Hyatt has an opportunity to demonstrate its desire to move in a new direction-to show it really cares about worker voices. Instead of nominating someone like me, Hyatt has chosen to nominate a board member from McDonald's, adding to the ranks of board members from Walmart, Goldman Sachs, and other corporate giants."
Youngblood says that on her tour to speak to co-workers she has learned about a variety of ways in which the hotel giant is pushing aside the concerns of its workers.
"As I travel across the country, I am learning about all kinds of issues that need resolution, from backbreaking labor to scores of unjust firings, and Hyatt has thwarted worker protests and union organizing-attempts to rectify these workplace abuses. In fact, Hyatt has gone so far as to take the lead in lobbying against legislation that would make housekeeping work safer.
When asked why a worker would even want to be on the board of a company engaging in so many violations of worker rights Youngblood said, "If someone like me, a housekeeper, were on the board, he or she would bring common sense solutions to the many problems we face at our jobs, and Hyatt would be a better company and a much better place to work."
At the June board meeting it is expected that Youngblood will be supported by thousands of Hyatt workers and by community leaders from around the country.
Photo: Cathy Youngblood waiting to testify to the Maryland House of Delegates in favor of Bill 956, which would require companies that get over $100,000 in public subsidies to provide workers with basic job protections and benefits like a living wage and paid sick leave. Hyatt Hurts! Facebook page