Letter from ISPC Chicago in Support of Unite Here

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The following letter was sent to the American Medical Association by the ISPC Chicago Group on September 16, 2011; the Illinois chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program sent a similar letter. Both groups have written to additional Hyatt customers from the medical sector and have solicited participation in this campaign from other allies.

Attention Dr. Robert Wah, Chairman of the Board
American Medical Association
515 N. State Street # 9
Chicago IL 60654

Dear Dr. Wah:

It has come to our attention that the American Medical Association is scheduled to hold its House of Delegates meetings at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago in June of 2012 through 2014. Based on our direct conversations with Hyatt housekeepers, and actions taken by Hyatt workers, we have made the decision to honor the Hyatt boycotts. I am writing on behalf of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition Chicago Group, one of hundreds of boycott endorsers, to urge you and all people of conscience to do the same.

We in the single-payer movement, and in particular as members of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition Chicago Group, will continue to struggle against the United States for-profit health insurance industry that every year causes thousands of deaths by denying health care for profit. We hope to see the American Medical Association join us in this struggle and in all struggles to put the dignity, health, and lives of people ahead of corporate profit.

As members of a wider community fighting for health care justice, and for all forms of social justice, we are deeply concerned about the plight of workers at Hyatt hotels. Hyatt housekeepers suffer physical and psychological abuse. In a recent study of fifty hotel chains, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest rate of injury, and Hispanic housekeepers had an injury rate almost twice that of white housekeepers.

Housekeepers in Chicago’s Hyatt Regency Hotel report being required to clean 16 rooms in a day, lifting one or two large and heavy mattresses per room, changing five pillowcases per bed, and vacuuming thick carpets that require a lot of time. In recently remodeled rooms, the mattresses are heavier, and furthermore the beds are larger so that attendants have inadequate space to move about. Attendants stand on tubs to change shower curtains, and slip on wet bathroom floors. Injuries to shoulders, wrists, hands, legs, and backs are common. At one point in September of 2011, twenty women at this one hotel were on light duty due to injuries.

Furthermore, workers with less seniority are periodically subject to temporary lay-offs during which they lose their health insurance. At the same time, other workers may be required to work up to four hours overtime in a day, and up to six days per week. Some housekeepers are thus denied work and benefits, including health insurance, while other housekeepers suffer from even more overwork and fatigue.

The Hyatt Corporation exemplifies the worst behavior of the major corporations of our day. Its profits are rising and its CEO received over $6 million in compensation in 2011. Meanwhile, its business strategy is to treat housekeepers—the backbone of the hotel industry—as disposable commodities. By creating jobs without adequate wages, safety, benefits, or security, Hyatt contributes to the systemic poverty of our working class communities—at the same time that the rich get richer.

In response to Hyatt’s abuse, workers are taking action. Hyatt hotels have been subject to regular picket lines, leafleting, bullhorns, and other demonstrations throughout this labor dispute. Some of our members have been on those picket lines.

We strongly urge you to move all of your business out of Hyatt.

In calling for a boycott, workers are making significant and uncomfortable sacrifices. They will lose wages and tips when businesses leave their hotels. They do this willingly in order to ensure their livelihoods in the long term. We at the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition urge you to follow their bold example by taking all steps necessary to move your business out of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago and all Hyatt hotels.

We will be sharing this letter with our networks of individuals and organizations.

Sincerely,

Sonja Rotenberg, Chair
Illinois Single-Payer Coalition Chicago Group

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