When three Boston-area Hyatt hotels abruptly terminated some 100 housekeeping workers in August after having them train their own replacements from a Georgia-based contracting company, they probably had no idea that they would become a symbol of corporate cruelty.
Well, the joke’s on them. This story, which we blogged about in September (link below), continues to gain attention and has become a rallying point for the labor movement. Hyatt has tried to defuse the crisis by extending health care coverage and offering alternative contracting arrangements, but it hasn’t managed to stop the groundswell of voices asking why this company discarded these workers, some of whom had 20 years service while making roughly $26,000 a year.
In today’s Boston Globe, columnist Lawrence Harmon writes about how Boston’s clergy are getting involved in the controversy:
Massachusetts clergy are now circulating an open letter decrying the company’s “unethical conduct.’’ Promises to support a boycott of Hyatt are flowing in from the leaders of parishes and congregations ranging from Saint Monica-Saint Augustine in South Boston to the First Lutheran Church in Lynn.
On Thursday, Rabbi Barbara Penzner of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah of West Roxbury is scheduled to deliver a petition signed by more than 200 rabbis, including dozens from the Boston area, to the Hyatt headquarters in Chicago. The petition calls on Jewish institutions and individuals to boycott Hyatt properties. The National Association of Jewish Chaplains, which was scheduled to hold a January conference at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, already has switched to the Hilton at Logan Airport.
So far, the moral outrage has not managed to save the jobs of the terminated workers. Maybe that will change. In any event, it is heartening, in the midst of this terrible recession, that voices of dignity and decency continue to call attention to this story.
Lawrence Harmon’s “No Comfort at the Hyatt”: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/12/15/no_comfort_at_the_hyatt/
Here is a remarkably lame Boston Globe CHRISTMAS DAY op-ed piece by Hyatt Regency GM Phil Stamm, defending the decision and criticizing the union, Unite Here, that has been in assisting these non-unionized workers in the aftermath of their terminations: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/12/25/for_hyatt_a_difficult_decision_in_trying_times/