by Michael C. Lowe | September 09, 2011

Hyatt hotel workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu are launching weeklong strikes, protesting what Unite Here, the union representing 250,000 hospitality workers, calls "the worst employer in the hotel industry." According to Unite Here, contracts for striking workers in Chicago and San Francisco expired in August 2009, in Los Angeles in November 2009 and in Honolulu in June 2010. While workers in these cities have reached agreements with Hilton and Starwood, contracts with Hyatt remain unsettled. Unite Here claims the hotel company has replaced career housekeepers with minimum-wage temporary workers and placed the remaining housekeepers in dangerous positions. According to the union, Hyatt housekeepers clean as many as 30 rooms a day, almost double what typically is required at union hotels.

Meanwhile, Hyatt properties in the affected cities continue to operate normally, said Hyatt in a statement. "It is unfortunate that union leaders have rejected the same wage and benefits package already accepted from Hilton, Starwood and Intercontinental. Our associates have earned and deserve these wage and benefit increases, and we hope that Unite Here will either accept them or return to the bargaining table to complete negotiations, rather than continuing to hold up negotiations in an effort to organize certain nonunion hotels." Hyatt also noted that employees from the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles did not go on strike, despite pressure to do so from Unite Here leadership.