The agreement will give employees in Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu and Los Angeles pay and benefit increases for nine years.
After a four-year battle over benefits and wages, 5,000 hospitality workers represented by the Unite Here labor union have reached a tentative agreement with Hyatt Hotels Corp. that would bring them wage increases of 4 percent.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the agreement will give employees in Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu and Los Angeles pay and benefit increases for nine years dating back to 2009 and reaching forward to mid-2018.
D. Taylor, the president of Unite Here, hailed the decision as an important step forward, saying, “We look forward to a new collaborative relationship with Hyatt. This agreement shows that when workers across the hotel industry stand together, they can move forward, even in a tough economy. Both organizations deserve credit for working out this constructive step forward.”
Unite Here represents roughly 300,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality industry. The union launched a global boycott last summer and has held numerous protests.
The economic impact of the boycott could have been the catalyst that tipped the balance in favor of the workers, as seen in the hotel chain has done poorly in recent months compared to peer corporations.
Unite Here published a report in May questioning whether the Hyatt’s recent poor performance was linked to labor disputes. Forty-five percent of Hyatt’s domestic, full-service managed room revenue relies on group business. Over the past quarter, the company experienced a 5.8 percent decline in group room revenue at domestic, full-service managed hotels during the first fiscal quarter of 2013. One estimate put the losses at $25 million.
The boycott was joined by major organizations such as the AFL-CIO, NFL Players Association, National Organization for Women, the Service Employees International Union, National Council of La Raza, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Feminist Majority Foundation, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The groups pledged not to eat or sleep at Hyatt hotels until the labor dispute was resolved.
“For these workers who struggle, who work under just very stressful, difficult circumstances, we’ve learned the same lessons that these housekeepers know — that if they stick together and fight for what’s right they have a chance,” said NFL Players Association representative DeMaurice Smith, announcing the NFLPA boycott last year.
Although on opposite ends of the bargaining table, representatives for Hyatt, a hotel chain with 450 locations across the world, appeared supportive of the decision.
“We are delighted that our associates in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Waikiki will have contracts and the pay raises that go with them,” said Doug Patrick, senior vice president of human resources for Hyatt.
The pay increases will give a lift to thousands of low-wage workers. The Chicago Tribune reports that at Chicago Hilton hotels, which reached agreement with Unite Here Local 1 this spring, housekeepers are paid $16.40 an hour and would see cumulative wage and benefit increases of $4.81 over the five-year contract that starts in September.