If the attempt was to impress the City Council last night with a letter printed on thick Hyatt Regency stationery and written by unnamed employees denouncing a hospitality workers’ union – the effort fell on deaf ears.
By a unanimous vote, the Council called on the Hyatt to enter into a “labor peace agreement” with Unite Here Local 7 and stop using full-time “temporary” employees in alleged violation of a longstanding management agreement with the city.
“I want to thank the Hyatt for this letter,” Councilman James B. Kraft said, tongue firmly in cheek. “It shows who we’re dealing with.”
Councilman Kraft denounced the letter for purporting to be from “undersigned current employees” of the luxury hotel, but failing to contain any signatures or other identifying marks other than the Hyatt letterhead.
The letter called on the Council to “conduct an investigation into the harassing methods Unite Here continues to employ against Hyatt employees” and concludes on a defiant note: “Please do not believe the propaganda the union is spreading. We only represent added revenue to the unions [stet] coffers. We do not need or want them. We are Hyatt and proud of it!”
Robert Curran, chairman of the Council’s Labor Committee, said Hyatt’s managers and employees had the opportunity to present their case against Unite Here at a hearing last Thursday.
The hotel did not send a representative to the hearing, which included about 100 Hyatt employees and union supporters.
Hyatt is involved in a nationwide struggle with the union, which has called for a boycott of the Chicago-based chain for failing to follow “fair labor” practices. In January, the hotel settled a complaint, brought by the National Labor Relations Board, of alleged intimidation and the improper firing of four employees who supported the union.
Local 7 has so far refrained from including the Baltimore Hyatt in the national boycott, local president Roxie Herbekian said, because the city has a profit-sharing arrangement with the hotel and a boycott would hurt city revenues.
Gail Smith-Howard, general manager of the Baltimore Hyatt, did not respond to a voicemail from The Brew seeking comment on the Council’s resolution and why a letter purportedly from Hyatt employees was printed on company stationery.
Waiting on the Law Department
The Council’s vote last night calls on the Rawlings-Blake administration to require Hyatt to comply with a 30-year-old management agreement safeguarding the rights of hotel employees.
Brenda McKenzie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., which represents the city’s interest in the hotel, has not taken a stand on the issue, saying she is waiting a review of the management agreement by the city’s law department.
Here is the Hyatt letter: