Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Maid Service from UNITE HERE

Last year, the UNITE HERE union, which consists mostly of service workers, reunited with the AFL-CIO. So it’s probably not surprising that UNITE HERE has been using hardball tactics that seem downright…Trumka-esque. While most unions might file a single complaint, UNITE HERE likes to shoot a little higher.

Union-represented housekeepers filed injury complaints against Hyatt Hotels Corp properties in eight U.S. cities on Tuesday, but the company said the filing was a union ploy to gain leverage and members.

The 12 filings with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration asked for an investigation into what the union, Unite Here, said were high rates of injuries among overworked housekeepers at Hyatt properties.

“Unite Here is making false charges about our work environment in hotels where we are currently trying to negotiate new union contracts,” Robb Webb, Hyatt’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement.

These complaints, timed perfectly, are an intimidation tactic to pressure Hyatt. And this is nothing new. In July, UNITE HERE led a high-profile strike against four Chicago Hyatt hotels, angry that workers were being laid off.

Then there was this amusing demand.

A union representing hotel workers has asked the Democratic National Committee to rule out two of its four convention-site finalists, Cleveland and Charlotte, N.C., because they lack sufficient unionized hotel facilities.

“Among the DNC’s four finalist cities, only St. Louis and Minneapolis” have the capacity to “house a large portion of the delegates and other guests … in unionized hotels,” John Wilhelm, president of the international UNITE HERE union of hotel and textile workers, wrote in a letter to DNC Chairman Tim Kaine.

Taking business from an economically-strapped city like Cleveland is apparently no problem for UNITE HERE. This isn’t really about the economy or hotel workers, after all. In fact, one of the hotels that UNITE HERE is picketing, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, was listed as one of the best places to work this year by Crain’s. UNITE HERE’s real goal is to attract attention to the union and stick it to successful businesses.

Categories: Anti-Corporate CampaignsCenter for Union FactsUNITE HERE