Hyatt Hotels have been found guilty of inhuman treatment of workers and fighting against their right to unionize.
Billionaire J. B. Pritzker will announce his intention to run for Governor of Illinois on Thursday, and according to reports he will make supporting a $15 minimum wage and fighting for working families a cornerstone of his campaign.
The Pritzker family is best known for owning the Hyatt hotel chain and is estimated to be worth $3.4 billion.
What’s not as well-known is the Pritzker family has a long history of fighting against paying employees a living wage, making workers work in unsafe conditions, and using controversial tactics to break up union demonstrations.
UNITE HERE waged a four-year campaign against the Hyatt hotel empire over its inhumane treatment of works and unfair pay practices.
According to reports, the hotel chain made housekeepers, “clean as many as 30 rooms a day, a pace that causes disabling injuries.”
Eunice Zapata, a housekeeper at the San Antonio Grand Hyatt, slipped on a wet floor and hurt her arm. The hotel giant forced Zapata to continue working through the pain or else she would be fired.
“My whole arm falls asleep, and I don’t have any strength,” she said. “I’m a new mother, and when I hold the baby, I feel pain.”
FairHotel.org reports that management at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, CA “refused to agree to a card-check neutrality agreement with UNITE HERE Local 49 that would have given majority of the hotel staff a fair process to choose representation free from intimidation and delay. Workers still do not have a fair process to choose the union to this day.”
In 2012, the Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA, “agreed to an unprecedented settlement with Cal/OSHA resolving a set of citations, two of which pertained to repetitive motion injuries.”
Excessive workloads, low wages, and lack of respect prompted hotel workers at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara to organize for a fair and neutral process to form a union in 2008. Workers launched a boycott in February 2011 after Hyatt refused to agree to such a process. Many housekeepers have reported daily pain, workplace injuries, and other forms of mistreatment.
Exploits like this led to workers launching the “Hyatt Hurts” campaign and a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels Corp. WBEZ Chicago reported in June 2013 that during one protest, “Hyatt turned winter heat lamps on Chicago pickets as summer temperatures neared triple digits,” in an attempt to disband them.
The worker’s fight to end these practices only came to an end because J. B. Pritzker sister, Penny Pritzker, was nominated to serve as Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration.
According to Labornotes.org:
The tipping point may well have come when President Obama nominated Pritzker for U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In May, hotel workers went to Washington to protest her nomination. “The Department of Commerce needs leadership far different from that demonstrated by Ms. Pritzker at Hyatt Hotels,” said the union.
Chicago teachers piled on. “We cannot imagine that someone who has a long history of bludgeoning Chicago’s working families and destroying public schools would be given a platform to continue these sorts of business practices on a national level,” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
These issues, including a history of fighting against unions, immigrants, and working-class Americans, could hurt Pritzker’s gubernatorial hopes in Illinois.
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