Magnificent Display of Labor/Community Unity in Support of Striking Hyatt Workers
A cross-section of Los Angeles labor unions, as well as the Coalition for Economic Survival, rallied in front of the West Hollywood Hyatt Andaz Hotel on Sunset Strip to provide support for striking hotel workers.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor organized the spirited protest on September 13, 2011.
The action was so inspiring that guitar virtuoso Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and fast becoming the musical voice of labor, by coincidence, was driving down Sunset when he saw the protest, pulled over and joined in the demonstration.
Hyatt hotel employees, represented by the UNITE-HERE union, in West Hollywood and three other cities launched a week-long strikes to protest work conditions.
The strike is an escalation of union efforts to move hotel giant Hyatt at the bargaining table. Many of the 3,000 striking workers have been without a contract for two years.
At the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, there has been a 24/7 picket. The hotel has responded to the strike by hiring scabs, who crossed the picket line with fabric over the back windows of their cars to hide their identities, according to picketers. The scab housekeepers are being paid minimum-wage and housekeepers who remain have been imposed with dangerous workloads.
“By striking, workers are standing up for decent jobs for themselves and their families, but they are also fighting for the right to take a stand against an abusive employer that is destroying good jobs in their North American hotels. Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry,” a union statement said.
“Injury rates for Hyatt housekeepers are high, and academic studies have shown that housekeeping can lead to debilitating injuries,” it said. “Housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels.”
“Hyatt is abusing housekeepers in Los Angeles and across the country. I am on strike today–not just for a decent contract–but to fight for our right to stand up to Hyatt wherever this giant company is attacking workers,” said Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at Hyatt Andaz, where 100 workers walked out at 5 a.m. last Thursday.
UNITE HERE, is also asking customers to boycott 17 Hyatt-owned properties and says the company has lost about $20 million in revenue as a result.
Rousing speeches (see videos below) were given by Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary–Treasurer María Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE Local 11 President Tom Walsh, Hyatt Andaz Worker Cathy Youngblood, Former Beverly Hills 90210 Star and current American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) LA Local President Gabrielle Carteris, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Vice President Mike Miller, Teamsters Local 396 Vice President Javier Bonales and California State Senator Kevin De León.
Video of the Picket Line in Front of the Andaz West Hollywood Hyatt Hotel
WATCH THE ROUSING AND INSPIRING SPEECHES
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary–Treasurer María Elena Durazo
UNITE HERE Local 11 President Tom Walsh
Hyatt Andaz Houskeeper Cathy Youngblood
Former Beverly Hills 90210 Star and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) LA President Gabrielle Carteris
Mike Miller, International Vice President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
Teamsters Local 396 Vice President Javier Bonales
California State Senator Kevin De León