We’ve long called on the Walton family and other decision-makers at Walmart to change the company’s destructive business model of low wages , few benefits and understaffing that have left millions in poverty in the US and abroad.
Unfortunately, Walmart isn’t the only company where the Waltons are helping to support this kind of low-road model.
In 2007, the Walton family invested $500 million in the Hyatt Hotel Corporation through their investment vehicle, Madrone Capital. The Waltons’ half billion dollars earned them a 6.1% ownership stake in the corporation and a seat on Hyatt’s board of directors. Greg Penner, the son-in-law of Rob Walton, filled that seat, and continues to serve on the Boards of Directors of both Walmart and Hyatt.
It’s no surprise that when the Waltons decided to get into the hotel industry, they chose Hyatt. When the deal was announced, Tom Pritzker, the Chairman and CEO of Hyatt, said that Hyatt had been seeking investors “who shared our vision.” [i] Pritzker and the Waltons didn’t elaborate on what that shared vision was, but Hyatt and Walmart share many abusive employment practices.
We’ve all seen the consequences of Walmart’s vision: Hundreds of thousands of Walmart associates living below the poverty line and depending on state subsidized benefits and a global supply chain full of subcontracted suppliers and workers with little to no accountability for safety and labor standards.
Now Hyatt is bringing Walmart’s vision to the hotel industry. Hyatt is transforming what can and should be decent careers at hotels into temporary work with poverty-level wages.
That’s why, Hyatt workers are launching a Global Boycott of Hyatt, holding a week of actions nationwide, and calling on a million people to Vote Hyatt the Worst Hotel Employer in America!
For years, Hyatt has been aggressively subcontracting housekeeping staff in its hotels. For example, in 2009, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels in the Boston area. The 98 women were replaced with workers from a temporary agency who earned minimum wage and cleaned up to 30 rooms a day for no benefits.
Subcontracting allows Hyatt to pay housekeepers poverty wages while evading legal liability for unsafe working conditions. Subcontracting also allows for the exploitation of undocumented immigrants who can more easily be abused by employers who do not bear the legal responsibility for their employment.
Denise Sidbury, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, is one of the few directly-employed housekeepers left at her hotel. “When I started at the Hyatt more than a decade ago, we had 35-40 in-house housekeepers. Today we only have nine. The rest are temps who make as little as $8/hour and have to clean up to 30 rooms a day,” she says. “I work side by side with these women every day, and I’m tired of watching Hyatt treat them like they are second-class citizens.”
Hyatt’s subcontracted workers in Indianapolis filed a lawsuit for not getting paid for all the hours they worked. Hyatt responded by firing the subcontractor, putting in jeopardy the jobs of people who bravely stepped forward in the lawsuit.
Walmart and Hyatt workers have been standing together against their abusive employers.
A few weeks ago, hundreds of Hyatt and other hotel workers marched with Walmart workers in Los Angeles to protest the proposed Walmart in Chinatown. Now, as Hyatt workers launch a Global Boycott of Hyatt, we are joining with them to call on people to Vote Hyatt Worst. By joining together, we will urge Hyatt and Walmart to change their ways.
[i] “Global Hyatt Corporation Expands Shareholder Base,” Business Wire, August 29, 2007.