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They pulled a lowdown, sneaky trick on 98 of Hyatt’s housekeeping staff in three Boston hotels – thinking that no one would notice, care, or do anything. They badly underestimated Bostonians.
In August, housekeepers at the three hotels were asked to train some new workers to fill-in when regulars were sick or on vacation. On August 31, however, the experienced staff – many of whom have worked for Hyatt for more than 20 years – were blindsided by a rude truth: they’d been duped. Management told them they were fired as of that day. It turns out that the workers they’d been training would replace them.
These replacements are employees of an outsourcing corporation called Hospitality Staffing Solutions of Georgia, whose honcho asserts that his workers are paid “competitive wages.” Yeah, competitive with poverty.
Indeed, Hyatt’s longtime housekeepers were earning $14 to $16 an hour, plus health care and pension benefits. The Staffing Solutions workers, however, get a miserly $8 an hour, with zero benefits.
Bostonians are in an uproar. There’ve been mass demonstrations in front of Hyatt’s hotels, the governor has directed state agencies to stop doing business with Hyatt, even the Chamber of Commerce has moved a scheduled meeting from the Hyatt, and the Boston Taxi Drivers Association intends to boycott the three hotels.
Meanwhile, Hyatt executive are essentially in hiding, claiming that replacing the workers was an essential “cost-cutting move.” Really? Where’s Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt’s CEO, who took $6.7 million in pay last year? If he cut his pay by about $1.5 million, that’d cover the $7-an-hour difference in pay between the experienced housekeepers and the replacements. Come on, Mark – Step up to your leadership responsibilities!
“Hyatts Face Protests After Layoffs in Boston Area,” The New York Times,” September 25, 2009.
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three left turns do." --Jim Hightower