Jewish Labor Committee calls for Hyatt boycott

Jewish Labor Committee calls for Hyatt boycott

WASHINGTON — The Jewish Labor Committee is calling on Jews to boycott Hyatt Hotels.

The call comes following the news earlier this fall that the hotel chain had laid off approximately 100 members of its housekeeping staff and replaced them with lower-wage workers.

In August, employees at three Boston-area hotels were tasked with training people they thought were additional housekeeping hires. On Aug. 31 they learned the new staffers were their cheaper replacements from a Georgia-based staffing firm, the Boston Globe reported.

The New England JLC, which is circulating a petition to Jews worldwide to swear off holding Jewish events at Hyatt Hotels until the former employees are rehired, called the Hyatt’s cost-cutting move an “outrageous step of reducing the pay of the least powerful workers, those who are critical to a hotel’s mission.” The petition began circulating nationally on Nov. 19.

The three Boston-area hotels are the only ones to institute these cost-cutting measures.

More than 200 rabbis and cantors in the United States and Canada are supporting the campaign, which also has the backing of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. In September, Patrick said Massachusetts state employees would not stay in Hyatt hotels on business travel until the fired housekeeping staffers were reinstated.

The Hyatt Corp., which went public in November for the first time in four decades, did not return a call seeking comment.

The new workers, who at a reported $8 an hour are paid about $7 less hourly than the laid-off employees, have far fewer benefits, according to the New England JLC.

Marya Axner, regional director of the JLC in Boston, said the move was an unnecessary cost-cutting measure, given that the hotel chain still boasts a healthy profit margin.

“If you look at the Hyatt and how much money they make, yes, they have made less because of the recession, but they are still making a profit,” Axner said.