UNITE HERE: In demonstrations nationwide, housekeepers urge Hyatt to add hotel worker to its Board of Directors
Workers submit proposal to corporate officers, saying "someone like me" will make Hyatt a better company for employees and shareholders alike
CHICAGO, Dec. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recent years, Hyatt has faced tough criticism for its record of labor abuses. Now housekeepers say they have a simple solution to move Hyatt in a new direction. In events nationwide this week, Hyatt workers are urging the company to add a hotel worker to its board of directors. Workers say Hyatt would be better off if someone who served hotel guests at some point in the last decade actually had a say in how the company is run.
National actions kicked off Tuesday evening at Hyatt headquarters in Chicago, where hotel workers submitted a resolution to the company for consideration by the directors, who are expected to meet on the date of the next shareholders meeting in June 2013. Hyatt workers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Baltimore, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Santa Clara, Honolulu and Seattle are also holding events this week. Holding signs and speaking before large crowds, housekeepers say "someone like me" would make Hyatt a better company, for workers and shareholders alike. Democratic corporate governance structures that include workers have been successful in European countries for decades.
"We all have a shared stake in Hyatt's success, but no one who cleans rooms like me has a real say at Hyatt," says Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood. "By choosing someone like me to be on the board, Hyatt could be a model for corporate America at a time when so many American workers feel left behind."
Currently, Hyatt has twelve directors on its board. The new resolution proposes that a 13th board member be added from the ranks of Hyatt's staff. Current board members include Tom and Penny Pritzker of the billionaire Pritzker family, Hyatt's CEO Mark Hoplamazian, and Greg Penner, an heir to the Walmart fortune, among others. Other board members have ties to Goldman Sachs, private equity firms worth billions, and major companies like Royal Caribbean. None of the biographies published by Hyatt of current board members shows any having experience as a hotel worker.
Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry by abusing its housekeepers, replacing longtime employees with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposing health-threatening workloads on those who remain. In a first in the hotel industry, the federal government issued a letter to Hyatt earlier this year, warning the company of hazards their housekeepers face. Workers say that adding someone with recent guest experience to the Board could reshape Hyatt's staffing policies and improve Hyatt's image.
UNITE HERE is an organization representing 250,000 hospitality workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Visit www.HyattHurts.org for more information.
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