Unite Here! targets city agreement with Hyatt

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Local Unite Here! union organizers claim the Grand Hyatt is shirking responsibilities outlined in agreements the hotel signed with the City of San Antonio before it first opened in 2008. Given tax abatements, city financing, and built on prime city-owned land, the Hyatt signed a management agreement clearly stating “[a]ll employees of the Hotel shall be the employees of Hyatt.”

But organizers and hotel workers claim the Grand Hyatt has become increasingly reliant on temp workers, using hospitality outsourcing companies like Xclusive Xcel or Pro-Park. Hotel workers at a rally outside City Hall Thursday estimated between 70 and 80 percent of housekeeping staff at the hotel are temps. Hyatt reps could not be reached for comment.

In a letter sent to Mayor Julián Castro, City Council, and City Manager Sheryl Sculley, organizers claim outsourced workers get inferior benefits compared to permanent hotel workers, and that hotels like Hyatt use them as a way to cut costs to workers' detriment. OSHA has cited the Grand Hyatt for failing to record nearly two dozen temp worker injuries between 2008 and 2010, records show. Hyatt has contested the OSHA citation.

The city was a third-party beneficiary of the Hyatt's management agreement, said City Attorney Michael Bernard. While the city approved the agreement, “Legally speaking, we have no enforcement authority for it.

But since it is part of the agreement the city approved, the city certainly anticipates all parties of the agreement will abide by its terms.”  -- Michael Barajas

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