Krissy Clark (PRI's Marketplace) had a good story (audio and text) Tuesday about what's going on in Houston where the big corporations are getting rich and the custodians are being screwed:
But for most of the 20th century, that is how it has worked, according to Arin Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts.
“Used to be the case that regardless if the person was a CEO or the person who cleaned the CEO’s office, when the company was doing better, everyone tended to do a little better,” Dube says. “That has changed.”
One reason that’s changed, Dube says, is because today, janitors generally don’t work for the owners of the buildings they clean. Instead, they work for—and collectively bargain with-- subcontractors: often national or multi-national cleaning companies vying to be the lowest bidders for their customers, the building owners.
“You end up becoming hired by a middle man,” explains Dube. “And that makes it easier for a building owner to not have to pay higher wages when they’re doing pretty well.”
And I want to pair that with another worker issue. This is C.I. from Tuesday morning:
Turning to US business, reasons why you should not book a stay at any Hyatt Hotel.
Kim Bobo: Hyatt has taken a particularly low road path, particularly outside the handful of cities where they have unions. They've really moved into this kind of perma-temp kind of approach where you hire a temporary staffing agency. These agencies act like they're temporary. But, in fact, these workers become longterm employees of the hotel but hired by a temping agency in a way where the chain takes no responsibilities for them as employees -- or at least tries not to. And these perma-temps are paid minimum wage or just a little above. They have no vacation, no sick days, no health care. It's an employment practice that is a complete low road practice. And there's no reason for it. I mean the Hyatt Hotel Chain, this is not a chain that's struggling to make ends meet.
Kim Bobo is with Interfaith Worker Justice and speaks with Glen Ford on this week's Black Agenda Radio which is hosted by Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network). IWJ's Ryan Wallace blogs about the boycott and concludes:
Working as a seminarian in a labor union has revealed to me that there is a critical role for the religious community to stand alongside workers as they call for justice from their employers. Hotel workers at Hyatt are calling for a global boycott of Hyatt hotels until management treats them with the dignity they deserve and provides a safe working environment.
Support workers as a person of faith, and pledge to support the global boycott of Hyatt hotels.
As the company website notes, "Hyatt was founded by Jay Pritzker in 1957 when he purchased the Hyatt Hous motel adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport. Over the following decade, Jay Pritzker and his brother Donald Pritzker, working together with other Pritzker family business interests, grew the company into a Noarth American management and hotel ownership company, which became a pubic company in 1962." Penny Pritzker, who made so much money via the housing crisis of the last years, chair Classic Residence by Hyatt. Whether or not this was a back up plan for income if Hyatt couldn't overcome their alleged nasty bedbugs problem, I have no idea. But Penny is a personal friend of Barack Obama's and was his National Fiance Chair in 2008. At a time when he and his surrogates are attacking Mitt Romney's business practices, his good friend Penny is ensuring that low-wage hotel jobs just got lower. She should be ashamed of herself but that whole trashy family's an embarrassment. (And when I say they're an embarrassment, disclosure, I know them. I haven't spoken to Penny since she backed Bully Boy Bush and have no intention of speaking to her ever again.) Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reported last week, "Joining President Obama on his short flight from San Francisco to Portland, Ore., today was Penny Pritzker, his 2008 campaign finance chairwoman and one of his earliest supporters."
Back to Black Agenda Radio:
Glen Ford: And this boycott and labor unrest has been a real embarrassment to the Pritzker family friend President Obama.
Kim Bobo: Yes it is. Because the Pritzker , particularly Penny Pritzker is very connected to the campaign. As you probably saw, there was recently an article about her and the connection in the New York Times.
Do not stay at Hyatt. Not while they have this policy in place. Not only are you screwing over workers for Hyatt but you are also encouraging the other hotel chains to do the same if you treat it as no big deal. We should all be boycotting Hyatt until they drop this practice.
If you need another reason not to stay at a Hyatt, this is Kari Lydersen (In These Times):
On July 23 unions and other labor and community groups called for a global boycott of Hyatt hotels, citing problematic working conditions and employment practices that they say violate labor laws and workers’ rights. The boycott is part of the Hyatt Hurts campaign centered around housekeepers, who suffer high rates of injury and often make around minimum wage working for contractors with few or no benefits. Indianapolis hotel cleaner Elvia Bahena, fired last week after speaking out at a community hearing, is just one of the workers who say they’ve been mistreated and retaliated against by Hyatt or its contractors.
Bahena had worked for United Services Co., a company that contracts with Hyatt hotels to provide cleaners. On average, cleaners work on 24 rooms a day, with the contractor of course taking a cut of what Hyatt pays for their services. Hyatt and other Indianapolis hotels and contractors allegedly conspired to protect this system through a “black-listing” arrangement wherein the contract workers would not be directly hired by hotels even when direct-hire jobs became available. UNITE HERE says the blacklisting kept about 1,000 local workers trapped in minimum-wage jobs with no hope of advancement. Bahena made $8 an hour after 11 years in the industry. She previously worked at the Westin and Marriott hotels, where she also worked for a contractor.
Windy City Times notes that the boycott has a ton of supporters, "The boycott has the backing of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Feminist Majority Foundation, Pride at Work, National Women's Health Network, National Stonewall Democrats, NFL Players Association, the National Organization of Women, Netroots Nation and Interfaith Worker Justice."
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday: