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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Why Someone Like Me Should Have a Say at Hyatt

By Cathy Youngblood, UNITE HERE 11

My name is Cathy Youngblood. I work as a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood.

There are many positive things about being a housekeeper.  I get to meet the world.  I have a real bond with the other women I work with. I also take pride in working in a field where I give comfort and pleasure to people when the travel.

There are also challenges to being a housekeeper. Everyday the work is exhausting and physically debilitating.  And management doesn’t always really listen when we have ideas about how to make the work safer or more efficient.

I care about my job, but also I see how things could be better. That’s why Hyatt needs someone like me on its Board of Directors. The current corporate officers might have business sense, but I have common sense. They push paper, I do the physical labor.

That’s why I joined a delegation of Hyatt workers on Tuesday, December 11 to submit a resolution to Hyatt’s corporate officers at Hyatt’s Headquarters in Chicago, calling on Hyatt to add a hotel worker to its Board of Directors.

Let’s face it, none of the board members actually work in a hotel.  They might run big companies like Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Royal Caribbean.  But they don’t understand the physical operations of the hotel in the way that I do, because I clean rooms every day.  I scrub floors, I lift heavy mattresses to change the sheets, I deal with guests daily. When there’s an emergency, who does management call? A housekeeper. Bad spills, overflowing toilets, clogged drains. These situations can be the difference between a guest’s stay being a delight or a disaster. Someone like me understands the common sense solutions to make hotel operations run smoothly.

Common sense would tell you to give housekeepers fitted sheets instead of flat sheets so we don’t hurt our backs lifting heavy mattresses. It’s what I use at home, why not at work? Someone like me on Hyatt’s Board of Directors would listen to women who do this work and take simple steps to make work safer.

I work with women who have dedicated 20, 30, 40 years of service to the hotel. These women are intensely loyal and intelligent. These women understand what it takes to get the job done. Common sense would tell you to listen to your loyalty. Instead, Hyatt has replaced women who have given decades of service with temp workers. If someone like me were on the Board of Directors, I would hold onto dedicated long-term staff and reward them for their skills, experience, and loyalty.

I clean 13 rooms a day, and that’s a tough job. At many non-union Hyatt hotels, Hyatt asks women to clean up to 30 rooms a day. Women are getting hurt. This is abuse. Common sense tells you, it’s impossible to do the same work safely and immaculately. If someone like me were on Hyatt’s board of directors, I would make sure that housekeepers had a reasonable workload. Someone like me adds to the Board compassion for women who clean rooms and pride in getting the job done right.

Common sense would tell you to leave a place better than when you found it. Someone like me on Hyatt’s board of directors would work hard to make the company better future generations of Hyatt workers. It’s time that someone like me have a real say at Hyatt.

 

To learn more about the “Someone Like Me” campaign, visit http://www.HyattHurts.org .

Posted on 12/20/2012Permalink

More posts by Cathy Youngblood

Reader Discussion

I have a sister-in-law and a close friend who have been hotel/motel maids most of their adult lives. My siser-in-law still working as a maid. But my friend (who is built small) is now on disability (in her 40’s)from the injuries she received from 20+ of lifting mattresses and other mandated chores as a maid.

at 9:07 am on Sun, Dec 23, 2012Posted by Desiree Forde-Silva

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