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by Sarah J.F. Braley | July 25, 2012

On Monday, Unite Here, the hotel workers's union, announced a global boycott against Hyatt Hotels Corp., despite the fact that the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled in favor of the hotel company. The boycott marks the largest escalation to date in Unite Here's ongoing campaign against the hospitality company. "Hyatt systematically abuses housekeepers and other hotel workers, and it is unacceptable in 2012 that women endure debilitating injuries as a result of the work they do cleaning rooms," said John Wilhelm, the president of Unite Here, as the boycott was announced. "We call on Hyatt to end its systematic abuse of housekeepers and adopt the recommendations made by the federal government to reduce the physical strain associated with housekeeping work." Hyatt officials responded: "At Hyatt, the satisfaction and well  being of our associates is fundamental to the success of our business because they are the ones who provide hospitality to our guests… The Unite Here campaign is not about creating a better workplace at our hotels, but is an attempt to boost union membership at nonunion Hyatt hotels through a nondemocratic and intimidating process. To maintain the campaign, Unite Here leaders have refused to allow their members in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Waikiki to vote on proposals containing the same wage and benefits packages the union accepted at Hilton and Starwood. As a result, our associates in these cities have gone without the pay raises and benefits increases they deserve for nearly three years… While Unite Here leadership is pursuing a strategy that puts its interests ahead of our associates, Hyatt is placing its associates first by standing ready to pay the raises our associates should have gotten, which will be delivered upon completion of new contracts… We urge UniteHere leaders do the right thing for their members by allowing them to vote on a new contract that gives them the wage and benefits increases they deserve." According to the America Hotel & Lodging Association, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago last week found that the union has bargained in bad faith and made illegal demands during contract negotiations. According to the Chicago Tribune, Richard Killiher-Paz, the acting regional director of the NLRB, found merit in unfair labor practice charges brought by Hyatt, and the NLRB office drafted a settlement agreement that two Unite Here locals signed. The newspaper reported that the locals, representing workers at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Park Hyatt Chicago, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and Hyatt Regency O'Hare, agreed to engage in bargaining sessions "with reasonable frequency" and not to engage in conduct "that frustrates reaching an agreement." A letter sent by the AH&LA to Unite Here in support of Hyatt can be found here.