Why Lots of Feminist Activists Are Boycotting the Hyatt

by Intern Tessa

Hyatt hotels are currently being boycotted, with great support from feminist and LGBQT activists. Tiger Beatdown reports on the terrible worker abuses fueling this boycott, and I, for one, am pretty horrified by them. Here they are:

– Branches around the country have fired many of their workers and brought on contract workers, who are temps but end up staying for months or even years, and don’t get any benefits, get paid less than regular employees, and are not allowed to participate in the hotel’s events.

– There has been sexual and racial harassment of employees. For example, the Reyes sisters had their faces added to images of women in bikinis, and were fired when they protested this.

– The workloads are getting heavier, and employees are often not equipped with what they need to clean. Some contract workers are expected to clean 30 rooms in an 8 hour shift, no matter how messy it is.

– The hotel is facing over $100,000 in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violations at a number of different locations.

– The hotel has attacked labor organizers, once by turning heat lamps on Chicago protesters during a heat wave.

– The hotel doesn’t grant their employees the appropriate time off. One woman was required to return to work three days after having a C-section, and another worker who asked for time off to visit a terminally ill family member was told she needed a doctor’s note. As a result she did not visit him and he died alone.

On March 8th of this year, Inernational Women’s Day, women in the bay area protested the Hyatt and conducted a “Clothesline Project” which shared the experiences of the women who worked there. Hotel Workers Rising! reports on this, and also tells us that injury rates are high among Hyatt employees, and that immigrant women are being exploited.

Gloria Steinem, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Feminist Majority Foundation, National Women’s Health Network, and members of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women have all gotten involved in this fight, among thousands of other people and organizations.

The Reyes sisters met with Gloria Steinem, who pledged to honor the Hyatt boycott. The president of California NOW, Patricia Bellasalma, spoke to demand their reinstatement, and said “Hyatt’s actions are an insult to women everywhere. I am proud to stand with Martha and Lorena Reyes and the women of San Francisco on International Women’s Day to speak out for dignity and respect for all women who work.

This protest is ongoing and you can find out more about it here.

Pictures courtesy of International Women’s Day Action at Hyatt Santa Clara’s facebook page and Hotel Workers Rising!

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