by Michael J. Shapiro | August 01, 2013
Hyatt Hotels Corp. and the hospitality workers' union Unite Here agreed last month to end their long-running feud. Both sides are pleased with the outcome.

The agreement takes effect when Hyatt associates in San Francisco, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Chicago sign the new contracts, which, as of press time, was expected to happen by the end of July. The new agreements, which affect nine hotels, will increase wages and benefits for those employees retroactively to 2009, as well as lay out terms that will remain in effect through August 2018.

"The biggest outcome is that our associates in the four major cities will now be given the wage increases and the benefit enhancements they deserve," said Doug Patrick, Hyatt's senior vice president of human resources. "On top of that, a new relationship with Unite Here going forward, hopefully working in a more positive direction, is critical."

The agreement ends Unite Here's global boycott of Hyatt, as well as the calls that were being made and the letters being sent by union representatives to Hyatt's group customers, added Patrick, who described the effect those efforts were having on group business as "situational."

"It wasn't as widespread as some may have felt," said Patrick of the union's efforts to dissuade group business, "and it was being very well managed by our sales team." Nevertheless, he said, "We were always trying to find opportunities to place groups in markets less affected by the boycotts."

Unite Here and Hyatt also agreed on a process by which other associates could join the union. At select properties agreed upon by both Hyatt and Unite Here, employees will have the opportunity to vote anonymously on whether to unionize. The voting will be overseen by an independent arbitrator, said Patrick. At press time, the two parties were hammering out details.

"We look forward to a new collaborative relationship with Hyatt," said Unite Here president D. Taylor in a statement following news of the agreement. "Both organizations deserve credit for working out this constructive step forward."