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For Immediate Release
June 8, 2010
(San Francisco) - Four hundred hotel workers at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco walked off the job Tuesday morning to protest Hyatt's moves to squeeze workers even harder despite significantly improving hospitality revenues and rising share values. The walkout comes as Hyatt [NYSE:H] prepares to hold its first shareholder meeting since becoming a publicly-traded company in November. Workers will return to work on Friday morning.
The Hyatt Regency strike comes after nearly ten months of negotiations and demonstrations to secure a new contract for 9,000 San Francisco hotel workers and their families. "We think that's long enough," said Cynthia Reed, a telephone operator at Hyatt Regency. "Hyatt's growing and making more money every day, and we're not going stand by and let that come at the expense of workers and their families. If they move forward, we should too."
This is the second strike at a San Francisco Hyatt in recent months. Workers at the Grand Hyatt on Union Square walked out November 5, 2009 - the same day Hyatt became a publicly-traded company, earning its owners nearly $1 billion. It also comes amid mounting unrest for Hyatt throughout North America. On May 26, 400 workers at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago walked off the job protesting workload increases.
In city after city, Hyatt has used the economy as an excuse to press employees harder, even while positioning themselves to benefit from the economic recovery. Yet in San Francisco, the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than expected, with revenue growth projected to be 4% for the remainder of 2010, 12% in 2011 and 14% in 2012. Nationwide, the hotel industry is also growing. According to an industry analyst quoted in Monday's Wall Street Journal, "There is clearly a lot of competition for hotels now as people believe there is going to be a significant increase in hotel profitability over the next four to five years." In the six months following Hyatt's November initial public offering Hyatt's shares have risen over 50%. And as recently as March 2010, Hyatt had $1.3 billion cash on hand - on average, nearly five times as much as any other hotel company.
On Wednesday, as Hyatt holds its shareholders' meeting in Chicago, hundreds of workers and community allies are expected to hold simultaneous demonstrations in San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, Honolulu, and Los Angeles. Together, they are appealing to Hyatt's majority owners (and one of America's ten wealthiest families), the Pritzkers, not to leave workers behind as the company moves forward.
Key issues in dispute at stake in San Francisco negotiations include workload protections, maintaining affordable health benefits, securing retirement, and protecting the right of non-union workers to choose freely whether to form a union. Without affordable benefits and a voice on the job, thousands of hotel workers and their families will be faced with no other option than to rely on San Francisco taxpayers for their livelihoods. "San Francisco is my community. Why should we burden San Francisco residents when Hyatt and other hotel corporations expect to make millions in profits in the coming years?" said Caddie Lin, a housekeeper at the Grand Hyatt hotel.
All three of Hyatt's San Francisco properties are now under worker-called boycotts, including the Hyatt Regency, the Grand Hyatt, and the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf.
UNITE HERE! Local 2 represents nearly 12,000 hospitality industry workers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Visit www.unitehere2.org for more information.
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