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Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009, 11:27 am

Hyatt Continues Catching Flack over Fired Boston Workers

BY Emily Udell

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Protesters rally outside Boston's Hyatt Regency hotel in October.   (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Hyatt's efforts to woo fired housekeepers back have been mostly unsuccessful, with only six taking up the hotelier's offer of employment with the company that replaced them.

Hyatt says the new jobs will extend their pay through 2010 and healthcare through May 2010. But workers aren't buying the company's efforts to assuage the public-relations disaster they set off when they fired the 98 housekeepers in August. Luz Aquino, who worked at the Hyatt Harborside told Reuters: "Hyatt, I think, is playing games because they think we're stupid."

A Boston news station reported yesterday that a worker said the hotel had not kept its promise to continue health coverage through March, after her son was denied care during a hospital visit. Hyatt said this was just a clerical error and the problem was fixed. But the report also said Emerson College yanked its holiday party from being held at the Hyatt to protest the company’s treatment of workers.

We documented here how the firing has sent ripples within the state and across the nation. On November 12, UNITE HERE kicked off a series of North American solidarity demonstrations in Toronto that was attended by hundreds in an effort to bring attention to the workers' plight.

Hyatt’s explanation for the firings was that it needed to remain profitable in a down economy. But that’s a hard argument to swallow when Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced it raised $127.3 million at the closing of its initial public offering last week.

Some Money Reversing Flow to U.S. from Mexico

As we reported on this site, the down economy hasn’t sent workers back to Mexico en masse despite the special challenges it poses to migrant workers.

Predictably, hard times have led to unemployment for some and the inability to send money home, but anecdotal evidence shows that some money is even reversing course. The New York Times yesterday reported that some families are scraping together funds to send to their unemployed relatives in the U.S.

Emily Udell is a writer for Angie’s List Magazine in Indianapolis. In 2009, she finished a stint drinking bourbon and covering breaking news for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Her eclectic media career also includes time at the Associated Press, Punk Planet (R.I.P.), The Daily Southtown in southwest Chicago, and Radio Prague in the Czech Republic. She co-hosted and co-produced In These Times’ radio show “Fire on the Prairie” from 2003 to 2006.

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