Thursday, May 23, 2013

At Senate Hearing, Hyatt Workers Oppose Pritzker Nomination for Commerce Secretary

Citing labor abuses and Pritzker’s inaction as Hyatt Director,
workers call Hyatt “the worst hotel employer in America”

For more background on labor abuses at Hyatt, visit

[Washington, D.C.] Today, Hyatt workers, joined by UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, will be present for a Senate hearing with Penny Pritzker, in opposition to her nomination as Secretary of Commerce. Workers say that Hyatt’s record of labor abuses and outsourcing jobs makes Ms. Pritzker, a longtime Hyatt board member and heir to the Hyatt fortune, a bad choice for Commerce Secretary.  In recent years, Hyatt has drawn criticism for opposing higher wage standards, replacing longtime housekeepers with minimum wage temps, and lobbying against safer working conditions for hotel housekeepers.

Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst hotel employer America, leading the industry in outsourcing practices that destroy good jobs and hurt housekeepers. Some Hyatt housekeepers clean as many as 30 rooms a day, getting paid as little as $2 per room. In a first for the hotel industry OSHA issued a companywide letter to Hyatt warning it of the hazards its housekeepers face on the job.

“Under Ms. Pritzker's leadership, Hyatt has exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers,” says D. Taylor, the President of UNITE HERE.  “In order to get our nation on the road to recovery, the Commerce Department needs leadership far different from what Ms. Pritzker has demonstrated at Hyatt Hotels.”

Hyatt workers have been locked in a protracted battle with the company, which has resulted in numerous strikes nationwide and a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels. Earlier this week, hundreds of Hyatt workers led protests against Pritzker’s nomination in Chicago—Hyatt’s hometown. On Wednesday, UNITE HERE published an ad in Politico detailing these abuses and calling President Obama's nomination "A Mistake." UNITE HERE has submitted a statement of opposition to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“The Commerce Secretary’s first concern should be to create good, family sustaining jobs for all Americans,” says Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper who has led a national campaign to elect a hotel worker to Hyatt’s Board of Directors. “Under Pritzker’s direction, Hyatt has led the hotel industry in a race to the bottom by aggressively subcontracting out career hotel jobs to minimum wage temps. This is not the model that will lead our country to a bright economic future.”

Nationally, civil rights leaders have championed the cause of Hyatt workers.  The National Organization of Women (NOW), the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) have endorsed the global boycott of Hyatt Hotels.


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