For more than two years, workers have been calling on Hyatt to provide safer working conditions for housekeeping staff. Housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels. In a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine examining a total of 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied by hotel company.
Housekeepers do work that can lead to debilitating injuries, and now Hyatt has stepped up its abuse of housekeepers this month.
On Thursday, July 21, 2011, under stifling heat, workers at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago were walking the picket line, calling on the hotel to approve a fair contract for workers.
What happened next is hard to believe. Hyatt turned heat lamps on its workers. In the summer. During that week's record-breaking heat dome.
Reports one local radio station, "Combined with the outdoor air temperature, Linda Long says it was hotter than the Hyatt kitchen she’s worked in for eleven years."
“They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” Long said. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”
This kind of blatant disregard for their workers is outrageous, but for those familiar with Hyatt's management tactics, it's not surprising. In Boston, Hyatt fired nearly 100 housekeepers in one day and replaced them with temporary workers earning minimum wage. And at the Park Hyatt in Chicago where the "heat lamp" incident occurred, workers say the hotel has refused to address concerns over dangerous workloads and subcontracting for Hyatt housekeepers.
The people who clean, staff and help make Hyatt Hotels successful are simply seeking protections on the job. It's time we turned up the heat on Hyatt and call on the hotel management to stop abusing housekeepers.