Grand Hyatt Fails to Unite

Alicia Ramirez

[email protected]

What seemed a sure thing at last week's rally has now come to a grinding halt. The Grand Hyatt employees' highly anticipated union vote will no longer take place this Friday.

Unite Here and Grand Hyatt workers held a press conference yesterday to announce that they were calling off the vote, alleging interference and intimidation by hotel management.

"From the very beginning, this election has been a process that has been very corrupted," said in-room dining server Gabriel Morales. "The company waged a very nasty, disgusting anti-union campaign.

We, the hotel workers, are demanding that the manager of the hotel give us a democratic process and not this this sham election."

A previous Unite Here vote indicated about 60 percent of the hotel workers support the union, and Morales believes that they will eventually win their fight to unionize. "The community has already shown a tremendous amount of support," said Morales.

Community politicians and leaders who have publicly backed the workers' right to vote include Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, Texas State Representative Joe Farias, District 2 Council member Ivy Taylor, Father William of the Immaculate Conception Church, Edward Reid of the Texas AFL-CIO, and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

Unite Here official Jay Mehta says the effort to unionize has been corrupted by the Grand Hyatt. "The election process was tainted with the hiring of professional union-busters and the employment of psychological scare tactics," said Mehta.

In lieu of addressing the direct claims made by Unite Here and the hotel workers, the Grand Hyatt issued a prepared statement by Managing Director Tom Netting:

"Grand Hyatt San Antonio is pro-employee, not anti-union. In fact, approximately a third of our full-service hotels in North America are union. Grand Hyatt San Antonio employs 600 people as part of its family. Approximately 350 of these employees will be involved in the secret ballot election on July 17. These employees include: housekeeping, laundry, bell stand and the entire food and beverage department, including kitchen."

While the Grand Hyatt release indicated that the vote will still take place, Mehta insisted there will be no election. "The vote will not take place on Friday, and the National Labor Relations Board has already been notified," he said. "The workers saw what the union-busting tactics were doing to the workers and decided that they are pulling the Hyatt out of the driver's seat and rejecting the election."

"We support our employees' right to choose whether or not they want to be represented by the union," continued the Grand Hyatt statement. "We believe the best and most fair way for employees to make that decision, free from improper coercion, is through a secret-ballot election, which is guided by the same democratic principles underlying how we select our elected government officials."

"The secret ballot system Hyatt is referring to is not actually secret," said Mehta. "Tom Netting's goal is to stack the deck against the workers by holding one-on-one interrogations, captive audience meetings, and scaring the workers.

The next phase of the campaign will be making sure we're able to change the face of the dominant hospitality industry - and if that means raising hell, so be it - we have San Antonio on our side," said Mehta.


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