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Faculty Demands Hyatt Reinstate Fired Housekeepers

Faculty Demands Hyatt Reinstate Fired Housekeepers

Last fall, the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency fired two housekeepers after they objected to a collage containing bikini-clad women. The pictures featured their co-workers and themselves on a company bulletin board.

Sisters Marta and Lorena Reyes’ faces were photoshopped on other bodies with their names prominently displayed, as though their co-workers would not recognize them. Apparently, higher ups at the local Hyatt thought the collage would be a great way to celebrate Housekeeping Appreciate Week.

According to Dignityathyatt.org, the general manager, Peter Rice, maintains that the sisters’ firing had nothing to do with them complaining about the pictures. Management later contended that the collage did not objectify women’s bodies or comprise a damaging act.

Faculty from universities around the nation started a petition to reinstate the Reyes sisters and to change the abusive practices at the Hyatt Hotel chain.

We are faculty in the field of women’s and gender studies. We urge faculty and students in higher education to join us in standing in solidarity with Marta and Lorena Reyes. The sexualization of housekeepers by Hyatt management is an appalling expression of power that has no place at work. It has tangible physical as well as psychological impacts. It belongs to a long list of well-documented abusive and unsafe practices that Hyatt housekeepers, many of them women of color, all over the country endure. According to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine of 50 hotels at five companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate among all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company. Hyatt has chosen to use its power to humiliate and bully rather than lead the industry in respecting the dignity of women’s labor and their right to a safe workplace.

Hyatt’s recent episode comes on the heals of other infractions hurting workers and their rights. In July, a Chicago Hyatt turned on the heatlamps that hung above striking workers. The hotel opposed a bill that would end the practice of cleaning bathrooms on hands and knees. Yes, they still have their housekeepers cleaning bathrooms on all fours.

Housekeepers, and workers in general, deserve to be treated with respect and to work in an environment that places the well-being of the person above short-term cost saving maneuvers.

Related Stories:

Behind Closed Doors: Arnold and Domestic Workers’ Rights

Sofitel Lets Housekeepers Wear Pants After Alleged Sexual Assault by DSK

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Photo by Aaron Krager

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15 comments

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6:56AM PST on Dec 28, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

6:15AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

Shame on you Santa Clara Hyatt Regency!! You should reinstate Marta and Lorena Reyes with back wages!!

11:58AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Where does it say that the sisters are from Mexico or another country and not US citizens? And what does it matter? And Keevin's comment about keeping them "off the streets" is racist and sexist AND he is showing himself (herself?) to be ignorant and oh, I could go on and on. Stop this racism.

1:41PM PST on Mar 4, 2012

Bad article. The writer never once states what reason the Hyatt gave fore their firing. Perhaps they did something that was actually an act that allows for the company to fire them. Holy jumping to conclusions!!

6:03AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Hyatt has lost a customer&will pass on their repulsive actions to everyone I know!

4:33PM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Is this for real? What kind of idiot jerks are running this Hyatt? I hope their corporate office plans to do something about this.

3:58PM PST on Feb 29, 2012

I will never stay at a Hyatt again. This cannot be tolerated.

11:32AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

this is not uncommon whatsoever to still be having the housekeepers cleaning bathroom floors on hands and knees. I have been in housekeeping now for 13 years and both places I worked for required that. Pretty sad. Especially when they are being paid slave wages to begin with!!! Our society has their priorities backwards!

11:11AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Wow. A sad day for labor when women are allowed to be photo shopped into unflattering photo's by their employers.

9:25AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

This is why they hire illegals. Oh,well...

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