Grand Hyatt workers reach out to
QSanAntonio.com, October 18, 2011
Workers from the Grand Hyatt stood outside the hotel during the Human
Rights Campaign's Gala and Silent Auction on October 15 and distributed
an "Open letter to the LGBT community" detailing the grievances
they have against their employer.
Danna Schneider, organizing director for the San Antonio
branch of Unite Here, the labor union that has been organizing local Hyatt
workers, says that the distribution of flyers on the day of the HRC event
was done as an outreach to the LGBT community.
"We're not asking anyone to cancel any events being held at the Grand
Hyatt," Schneider told QSanAntonio. She added that there's no boycott
in place and that workers simply want to get their message out to the
gay community who they consider allies.
"Regrettably, many of our friends in the LGBT community and beyond
have been caught in the middle of our struggle with Hyatt," reads
the text from the flyer. "From the bottom of our hearts, we want
to thank those of you who have stood by us even when it was difficult.
As Hyatt workers and members of Unite Here, we also want to reaffirm our
unequivocal commitment to full LGBT equality."
Last year, the Grand Hyatt was embroiled in a labor dispute over two workers
who were fired because they were trying to organize a union at the property.
The two sued the hotel. They won their suit and got their jobs back but
Unite Here says problems for employees at the hotel continue.
"Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with minimum
wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those who remain,"
reads the flyer.
In November of 2010, four employees filed a grievance with the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, claiming that Grand Hyatt workers are
at high risk of sustaining injuries while performing housekeeping duties.
Similar grievances were filed against Hyatt Hotels in Chicago; San Francisco;
Santa Clara, Calif.; Los Angeles; Long Beach, Calif.; Honolulu; and Indianapolis.
Grand Hyatt workers during a protest
held in July of 2010. (Photos by Antonia Padilla)
In July of this year, 10 San Antonio employees were arrested at a demonstration
in front of the Grand Hyatt after they joined hands and sat in a crosswalk
on Market Street and blocked traffic.
Unite Here is the first labor union to ratify a comprehensive statement
in support of civil and economic rights for LGBT people. It also has contributed
funds and organizing assistance in the fight to defeat Proposition 8 in
California. Members of Unite Here have marched in Pride parades across
A new web site, SleepWithTheRightPeople.org,
is described as a joint effort between Unite Here and the LGBT community.
Cleve Jones, a longtime AIDS and LGBT rights activist, is working with
Unite Here to help build and expand the partnership.
"Our coalition is calling on members of the LGBT community to 'Sleep
With The Right People' by honoring picket lines, respecting boycotts at
various Hyatts and other hotels across North America, and whenever possible
patronizing unionized hotels when traveling," reads the text on the
site's home page.
On the site Jones writes: " . . . we are continuing the important
work that Harvey Milk began, building a powerful partnership between the
labor movement and the LGBT rights movement. We are in this for the long
haul, we know we’re not going to win our rights overnight, and we
also understand that rights have never been willingly granted to minority
communities unless they're willing to stand up and fight and demand the
equal protection under the law that is guaranteed to all Americans."