Written by Connie Larkman
The United Church of Christ should have been housing delegates and visitors in the Hyatt Hotel during General Synod 2013 in Long Beach, Calif., since the hotel sits right next door to the convention center. Instead, church leaders honored a global boycott against the chain by UNITE Here, the union of hospitality workers in the U.S and Canada. But as the gathering winds to a close, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and the union announced a national agreement that resolves longstanding disputes between the two organizations.
In Tuesday morning plenary, the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, talked to the gathering about the successful resolution of the boycott.
"Many of us are aware that hotel workers typically face low wages, few benefits, and very hard work,” said Jaramillo. "In an effort to improve wages and working conditions, the hotel workers union, UNITE Here, called a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels. Now UNITE Here and the Hyatt Hotel Corporation have reached an agreement that, once it has been ratified by workers in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago and Honolulu, will end the boycott. It will bring a wage increase and continue their health insurance and pension benefits. It also provides that workers in non-union Hyatt hotels will be able to decide whether to form a union without interference, intimidation or retaliation by the employer.”
Representatives from UNITE Here expressed their sincere gratitude for the General Synod's support of the boycott and the UCC's ongoing commitment to worker justice.
"The faith community and especially the United Church of Christ have played an important role in bringing the boycott against the Hyatt Hotels Corporation to a successful conclusion,” said Ross Hyman, the campaign organizer for the Hyatt hotel workers. "We thank you, the UCC, very much for your commitment to justice and your unwavering support of the hotel workers.”