Hyatt Boycott Reaches Chicago

It was my honor today to join with Hyatt workers and supporters for a press conference to announce that Unite Here Local 1 is now urging patrons to boycott three Chicago Hyatt locations.

From the union’s press release:

Today, UNITE HERE Local 1 members are gathering in front of Hyatt Global Headquarters in Chicago to call for a boycott at several area Hyatt Hotels—the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the Hyatt O’Hare, and the Park Hyatt. Hyatt workers will be joined by Jewish allies, who are releasing a pledge signed by over 250 Rabbis and other Jewish leaders nationwide in support of Hyatt workers across North America. The boycott and national pledge represent the latest escalation of a labor dispute with Hyatt, which has become the target of labor demonstrations across North America in recent weeks.

The boycott announcement comes almost one year after union contracts with Hyatt in Chicago have expired (Aug. 31, 2009). Hyatt workers have taken several actions in recent months, including a work stoppage on May 26, 2010, a picket of Hyatt’s annual shareholders meeting on June 9, 2010, a massive demonstration outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago on July 22, 2010, and a strike vote on July 29, 2010. Hyatt protests in Chicago have been echoed by other major demonstrations this summer in 15 cities across the U.S. and Canada.

The three Hyatt boycotts in Chicago, which join seven other active boycotts of Hyatt properties nationwide, signal a growing crisis for Chicago-based Hyatt and its billionaire owners—the Pritzker Family—who have become a symbol among hotel workers for how the wealthy are trying to take unfair advantage of the recession. Hotel workers in Chicago have endured staff cuts, reduced hours, and excessive injury rates. Frustration among area workers has deepened, as Hyatt has tried to make further job cuts and lock workers into recession contracts even as the economy rebounds.

In the clip above: behind me stands Rabbi Alison Abrams of Temple Chai in Long Grove and Cantor Michael Davis of Lakeside Congregation, Highland Park, both of whom spoke at the press conference as well.

3 thoughts on “Hyatt Boycott Reaches Chicago

  1. It seems a little presumptuous to proclaim that the laws set down in the Torah are universally binding on Jews and non-Jews. Everyone, of course, has the right to support businesses who treat their workers well, but it is ethical to call for a widespread boycott of a corporation because they don’t conform to your particular ethical standard?

    • I think you misunderstand our position. The Hyatt employees are the ones who have called for the boycott. As Jewish leaders we are standing in solidarity with their call because we believe our religious tradition compels us to do so.

  2. Thank you for posting this and for speaking out. It is a privilege to spend time with the worker leaders. Behind the tiredness and anxiety, they have pride and determination. They have said that this campaign is as much about human dignity as it is about providing for their families.

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