Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
strikersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Hyatt Hotels pounced on their Boston housekeepers like a great predator, firing the staff without notice and attempting to replace them at half the wages. A governor and a union stepped up in solidarity with the workers, who had been subjected to cruel, but not unusual, treatment in this late stage of capitalism.

 
Gov. Deval Patrick Joins Condemnation of Hyatt Firings
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick deserves a salute for his solidarity with Hyatt Hotel workers who were cruelly disrespected and fired last week. Ninety-eight non-union housekeeping workers were summarily dismissed from three Boston-area Hyatt hotels, replaced by contract employees earning half their salaries. Hyatt outsourced their $14 to $16 an hour jobs to a Georgia company that pays only $8. Governor Patrick appealed directly to Hyatt's CEO for the workers' reinstatement and, when that failed, urged state employees to boycott the hotel chain, based in that wannabe Olympic city, Chicago. Massachusetts Gov. Patrick was right when he said the firings were “the worst nightmare of every worker in today's weak economy.”
There is a logic to the way that corporate behavior toward employees becomes more inhumane at precisely the same rate that the job market deteriorates. To put it simply, corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.When there are six unemployed persons for every job opening, the employer, like a king, feels empowered to behave like the worst kind of tyrant.
The Hyatt firings were doubly cruel in their execution. The workers, some of whom had been on the job for over 20 years, were ordered to train the new, outsourced employees, supposedly so they could fill in during vacations or when regular employees got sick. The housekeepers were not informed they were really training their replacements. Several days before the ax fell, the workers say management told them to empty their lockers so they could be cleaned. Actual notice of termination didn't come until the last day of work.
Corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.”
Although the Hyatt's Boston hotel employees are not unionized, some asked the hotel workers' union Unite Here for help. The union staged a demonstration at which 150 people were arrested, and sent one of the fired workers to Chicago to meet with Penny Pritzger, an heiress to the hotel-owning family who was also national finance chairman for the Obama presidential campaign. Hyatt's response to the employees' and Gov. Patrick's appeals was to offer the workers a brief extension of their current salaries and health benefits, and temporary jobs with another outsourcing agency that Hyatt contracts with in Chicago. The offer was rejected. Said one of the workers: “We will not accept temp positions that are designed to put others out of work.”
Hyatt's shameful, devious and heartless treatment of its Boston hotel housekeepers also illustrates the deceptive nature of unemployment statistics. The employees that Hyatt was forcing into unemployment were to be replaced by previously unemployed workers at half the pay. A company payroll was, presumably, cut in half, but no jobs were created or destroyed and the overall employment numbers remained unchanged. But nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation, and most will not likely recover in this economy. And their replacements will clean up behind other people at poverty wages with no job security whatsoever. That is par for the course, in late-stage capitalist America.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090939_gf_HyattFirings.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:32am EDT