Settlement reached in federal case against Hyatt for alleged labor violations
January 25, 2013
After five days of trial in a case against Hyatt for alleged violations of federal labor law, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore has reached a settlement with workers who were fired last summer after showing support for a union. Terms of the settlement include the reinstatement of two fired union supporters with back pay and the removal of disciplines given to other union supporters and employees. Additionally, the company has agreed to post notice that it will not violate federal labor law, specifying among other things that it will not conduct unlawful surveillance of union activities, issue discriminatory discipline, or inform union supporters that they will be removed by the police because they are exercising federal rights.
A federal trial against Hyatt began on January 14, 2013, after a complaint was issued by the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for unjust firings, threats and surveillance of union supporters. The complaint issued by the federal government resulted from an extensive investigation that began after Hyatt terminated several workers leading an effort to unionize the Hyatt Regency Baltimore in the summer of 2012. Other workers reported being surveilled by Hyatt management and threatened with arrest for leafleting. During the investigation, Hyatt was given an opportunity to present its own witnesses and documents.
“I'm glad that I can finally return to work, and I am grateful to the Labor Board and so many of my co-workers who stepped forward to provide evidence and backed me up,” said Mike Jones, a dishwasher who was fired after 10 years of service to the hotel. “The settlement is a step forward, and now we must continue to press Hyatt for an end to poverty wages and rampant subcontracting to make Baltimore a better place to live and work.”
Several community leaders have spoken out in support of fired Hyatt workers, including President of the Baltimore Chapter NAACP Tessa Hill-Aston, President of the Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO Ernie Greco, and Father Ty Hullinger, St. Anthony's de Padua.
Hyatt has faced a litany of controversies, positioning the company as the worst hotel employer in North America. Hyatt has been criticized for its abuse of housekeepers, aggressive subcontracting practices, and unjust firing of workers who have spoken out against mistreatment. Hyatt management turned heat lamps on striking workers during a brutal heat wave in Chicago in 2010.
Workers at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore have been organizing since early June 2012. The majority of hotels in Baltimore are nonunion, and the effort by Hyatt Regency workers to organize is the first of its kind at that hotel in decades. City leaders hoped to revive the Baltimore economy by investing in the hospitality industry, and the Hyatt Regency was the first heavily-subsidized major hotel project in Baltimore. Sadly today, many jobs at the Hyatt are subcontracted to temp agencies paying workers poverty wages with no benefits.
UNITE HERE Local 7 represents workers in Baltimore's hospitality, food service, and gaming industries. Workers are available for interview. For more information, visit www.HyattHurts.org.