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Hyatt Looks to Clean Up Its Image Ahead of Expansion Bid by Settling with Wrongly Fired Housekeepers

via Labor NotesIn a settlement announced last month, Hyatt Hotel Corps. agreed to pay $1 million to 98 Boston-area housekeepers who they terminated five years ago after making them unknowingly train their replacements.  

The bad behavior, dating back to 2009, sparked a boycott of Hyatt Hotels, multiple marches and protests, and the ire of Gov. Deval Patrick who had his administration participate in an informal boycott of the hotel. As part of the settlement, Unite Here, the union which aided the workers following their termination, has called off their five-year boycott which they estimate cost the company over $6 million.

Brian Lang, President of Unite Here Local 26, said of the settlement: “There are plenty of companies that make token gestures, and this is not token. This is very significant.”

The affected workers may see payments of up to $40,000 depending on the time they had put in with the company. The workers will also receive preferential hiring at future Boston-area Hyatt Hotels.  Despite this, many are still resentful of how they were treated by the company. One of the workers, who asked that her name not be used to protect her current job at a non-union hotel, told the Boston Globe, “I don’t even want to walk on their sidewalk, that’s how disgusted I am by them. I don’t think they could ever make up for what they did.”

In a statement following the settlement, Marc Ellin, Senior Vice President at Hyatt, said: “Through this agreement, we are able to demonstrate care for our former colleagues. Each of these former associates made a difference in the lives of guests who stayed in our hotels.”

The settlement comes as Hyatt is looking to expand its operations in Boston, according to the Globe:

The agreement with Local 26 comes as Hyatt is vying to operate a 1,000-room hotel at the expanded Boston Convention & Exhibition Center planned in South Boston. The settlement could help pave the way for Hyatt to be selected, said James Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. The main factor is financing, Rooney said, but if the bids are close, labor relations could play a role.

“This is a market receiving a lot of attention in the hotel industry,” he said. “It strikes me as wise to clean up a negative perception issue that might be lingering.”

The workers brought in to replace the fired 98 have reportedly earned $8 an hour, nearly half of what the workers involved in the settlement earned. 

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