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Hispanic Civil Rights Groups Boycott Hyatt, Urge Hotel Chain To Improve Working Conditions

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HISPANIC BOYCOTT HYATT
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National Hispanic Civil Rights Groups are joining a global boycott against the Hyatt hotels for allegedly sustaining harmful working conditions for their staff, especially housekeepers, who according to the activists are predominantly women of color and Latinas.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), have become part of this movement that pledge to not hold any conventions, conferences, special events or major meetings at the hotel chain, until the company commits to make internal changes.

Started on July 23, 2012 by the workers union organization UniteHere, more than 5,000 individuals and organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the NFL Players Association, the National Organization of Women (NOW), Feminist Majority, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Netroots Nation and Interfaith Worker Justice have come together for the cause.

According to their site, the groups demand the hotel company improve working conditions and reduce physical strain for housekeepers, agree to the workers’ request to remain neutral when nonunion workers try to organize and “settle expired collective bargaining agreements with worker representatives on terms comparable to other major hotel chains”.

The pattern of exploitation of housekeepers in Hyatt hotels is not only at odds with Hyatt’s commitment to hospitality but also inexcusable,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía in a press release. “For years, Latina housekeepers and their supporters have asked for the most basic and humane changes in the workplace to help reduce injuries and physical strain. We are joining these courageous workers in calling on Hyatt to stop this pattern of abuse.”

A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in 2010 revealed Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate when compared to other hotel chains in the industry.

Meanwhile, the Hyatt’s official site affirms their staff counts with the tools, resources and appropriate training programs to assure the safety and wellbeing of their employees who also enjoy competitive wages and benefits packages. The company also defended itself from the allegations by assuring UniteHere manipulated the way they present the results of the study, and keeps using intimidating tactics to their advantage.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found no reason to issue citations against Hyatt for ergonomic risks to housekeepers. OSHA reached this conclusion following exhaustive and duplicative inspections that were conducted at the behest of UniteHere, as part of its ongoing campaign to boost union membership by organizing associates at more Hyatt properties through a non-democratic and often intimidating process.

It is unfortunate that UniteHere continues to distort Hyatt’s safety record for the purpose of creating misinformation about the work experience at Hyatt properties. In yet another disingenuous tactic, union leadership has used a government agency, in this case, OSHA, to do their bidding.

Latinos are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to apply for unemployment insurance benefits or to receive them once they apply, according to the study published in the Monthly Labor Review and publicized in a briefing by the National Employment Law Project.

With new anti-union legislations and the rapid growth of this community, Hispanics have started to be seen as the "future of labor unions." Unions lost a record-breaking 547,000 white members in 2012, while membership increased among other races -- particularly Latinos. In 2012, unions gained 156,000 new Latino members, 82,000 new black members and 45,000 new Asian members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

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