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.
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.