January 29, 2013
Diane Cohen, LaborPress Washington DC Bureau
After five days of trial in a case against Hyatt for alleged violations of federal labor law, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore reached a settlement on Wednesday January 23, 2013 with workers who were fired last summer after showing support for UNITE HERE Local 7.
Terms of the settlement include the reinstatement of two fired union supporters with back pay and the removal of disciplines given to other union supporters and employees.
Additionally, the company has agreed to post notice that it will not violate federal labor law, specifying among other things that it will not conduct unlawful surveillance of union activities, issue discriminatory discipline, or inform union supporters that they will be removed by the police because they are exercising federal rights.
A federal trial against Hyatt began on January 14, 2013, after a complaint was issued by the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for unjust firings, threats and surveillance of union supporters. The complaint issued by the federal government resulted from an extensive investigation that began after Hyatt terminated several workers leading an effort to unionize the Hyatt Regency Baltimore in the summer of 2012.
“I'm glad that I can finally return to work, and I am grateful to the Labor Board and so many of my co-workers who stepped forward to provide evidence and backed me up,” said Mike Jones, a dishwasher who was fired after 10 years of service to the hotel. “The settlement is a step forward, and now we must continue to press Hyatt for an end to poverty wages and rampant subcontracting to make Baltimore a better place to live and work.”
Hyatt has faced a litany of controversies, positioning the company as the worst hotel employer in North America. Hyatt has been criticized for its abuse of housekeepers, aggressive subcontracting practices, and unjust firing of workers who have spoken out against mistreatment.
Workers at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore have been organizing since early June 2012. The majority of hotels in Baltimore are nonunion, and the effort by Hyatt Regency workers to organize is the first of its kind at that hotel in decades. City leaders hoped to revive the Baltimore economy by investing in the hospitality industry, and the Hyatt Regency was the first heavily-subsidized major hotel project in Baltimore. Sadly today, many jobs at the Hyatt are subcontracted to temp agencies paying workers poverty wages with no benefits.