Letter: PSA, NU boycott Hyatt in support of workers

Can you imagine having to train the person who is taking over your job before you are fired? Losing your livelihood, your security, and the food from your children’s mouths? This scenario has gone far beyond imagination for 98 former Hyatt housekeepers. It is their every day reality.

Over the summer, new employees were brought into the 3 Boston-area Hyatt hotels and existing workers were instructed to train them on the premise that the new hires would be filling in for established employees during vacations. The Hyatt workers, many of whom had been employed with the company for over twenty years, were happy to lend their experience to the new employees. Then they learned the real story. These new employees were from a company based in Georgia, and they were not brought in just for vacation time relief. Instead, nearly 100 Hyatt workers were told to pack their things and leave on Aug. 31, because they were to be replaced by the new employees they had just trained.

These new employees have been doing the same jobs as the Hyatt 100, except they are doing them for half the wages and with none benefits that the Hyatt 100 had.

Northeastern University has just joined the ranks of individuals and organizations that want Hyatt to know that Boston will not stand for this kind of dishonest business practice in our community. Northeastern has pulled the Hyatt from web sites recommending hotels to parents and other visitors. Events will not be scheduled at the Hyatt by Northeastern or any student organizations, and anyone with events currently scheduled any of the three Hyatt hotels will be encouraged to cancel or relocate. The Northeastern Law School has already moved its annual “Barrister’s Ball” in response to Hyatt’s shameful business practices. The Progressive Student Alliance has been working in support of the Hyatt housekeepers since this campaign began. We applaud the courageous decision for Northeastern to cut its business ties with Hyatt hotels because of Hyatt’s disrespect for Boston’s working families.

It is crucial that Boston sends a message to Hyatt hotels that we will not tolerate this kind of worker exploitation in our community. Northeastern is not alone in this boycott. Emerson College has pledged not to conduct business with Hyatt until the 98 housekeepers are reinstated. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has even threatened to end all state business ties with the Hyatt unless the jobs of the 100 workers are reinstated. These are just a few of the numerous individuals and organizations now boycotting the Hyatt. For a more complete list, visit www.hotelworkersrising.org/hyatt100/.

The three Boston-area Hyatt hotels have already lost over $2 million due to boycotts. Pressure must be kept up so that the Hyatts will reinstate the terminated housekeepers. This fight is not only about the jobs of these men and women. If the trend of subcontracting jobs to people that are willing to do them for far below a competitive wage, wages in all industries will be driven down. Please contact the Progressive Student Alliance at [email protected] if you are interested in becoming involved with the Hyatt 100 campaign.

– Dan Doyle is president of the Progressive Student Alliance.

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