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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Hyatt protests heating up
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2011-12-21

This article shared 3254 times since Wed Dec 21, 2011
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In a fight that has dragged on for more than two years and embroiled the LGBT community, the clash between Chicago-based hotel chain Hyatt and hospitality union UNITE HERE Local 1 appears to be growing in hostility.

Hotel workers have been calling for a boycott of Hyatt properties in Chicago for over a year, but talks hit a rough patch at the end of November when workers accused Hyatt of threatening to cut off their health benefits.

The union protested Hyatt over the issue for the second week in a row on Dec. 15.

LGBT activists have become tangled in the controversy as the International Mr. Leather (IML) competition is slated to be held at the Hyatt Regency hotel, the second time since the start of the boycott. Some LGBT organizers have accused IML of crossing a picket line, while IML organizers insist that they must abide by their three-year contract with the hotel and that no other available hotel is large enough to host the event.

According to UNITE HERE, workers could lose their health benefits at the end of February if contract negotiations do not wrap up. UNITE HERE has already settled contracts with other local hotels.

Hyatt claims that the deal it is offering the union guarantees Hyatt-paid healthcare.

"Even though there has not been a union contract in place for two years, Hyatt has paid 100 percent of health-care premiums during this time," the hotel said in a statement. "Local 1 leadership of UniteHere is the only obstacle standing in the way for our associates to receive wage and benefit increases."

Hyatt has claimed in the past that UNITE HERE is using its fight with Hyatt in Chicago to solicit membership in other cities, and that the union has refused to accept a deal with Hyatt similar the ones it settled with other hotels.

UNITE HERE has said that the sticking point with Hyatt remains a lack of commitment to provide safer conditions for housekeepers and an agreement not to subcontract jobs.

Related coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php


This article shared 3254 times since Wed Dec 21, 2011
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