Last week, at the end of a weeklong strike by Hyatt Hotel workers in four different cities around the U.S., religious leaders gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago to pray and call for the Hyatt corporation to treat their workers justly in contract negotiations. What follows are some reflections on the action by Rabbi Brant Rosen, who serves Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois. For more from Rabbi Rosen, visit his blog.
Today marked the end of a week-long strike at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and Hyatt Regency McCormick Place held simultaneously with Hyatt workers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu. This morning I walked the picket line at the Hyatt Regency and had the honor of participating in an interfaith solidarity service with local Chicago clergy. That’s me in the pic below, together with Rabbi Victor Mirelman (left) of West Suburban Temple Har Zion and Rabbi Larry Edwards (center) of Congregation Or Chadash. Above you can see Victor sounding the shofar in a dramatic start to our service.
As I’ve written before, the situation facing Hyatt workers in many cities throughout the country is deplorable. Hyatt has eliminated jobs,replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those who remain. Although the strike will be over today, the boycott of eighteen Hyatt hotels nationwide continues.
Again, I encourage you to read “Open the Gates of Justice: A Clergy Report on Working Conditions at Hyatt Hotels” for more information. The report contains the direct testimony of hotel workers themselves, who speak eloquently to the injustices they endure – as well as their desire only to be valued as workers for the important work they do for Hyatt hotels.
At the interfaith service today, I read an “Avinu Malkeinu” High Holiday prayer that I reworked in honor of the striking Hyatt workers. Click below to read:
Avinu Malkeinu, help us to stand with our brothers and sisters who seek a fair wage, safe working conditions and a secure future;
Avinu Malkeinu, help us to remain firm as we hold the Hyatt corporations such to account.
Avinu Malkeinu, remind us that all workers are worthy of respect and dignity;
Avinu Malkeinu, remind us that those who do the work of hospitality are doing sacred work.
Avinu Malkeinu, let us never waver in our support for those who seek to organize unions in their workplaces;
Avinu Malkeinu, let us never falter in our support of power equity and collective bargaining.
Avinu Malkeinu, bring healing and comfort to those workers who have been needlessly injured on the job;
Avinu Malkeinu, bring the truth of their suffering out of the darkness and into the light of day.
Avinu Malkeinu, we say shame on the kind of employer who would turn heat lamps on striking workers;
Avinu Malkeinu, we say it’s time to turn up the heat on the Hyatt corporation until it treats its workers with decency and respect.
Avinu Malkeinu, let us remind Hyatt that its ownership does not extend to public sidewalks and passways;
Avinu Malkeinu, let us remind the world that the right to freely assemble is a basic and inalienable right.
Avinu Malkeinu, we stand with all who have become vulnerable during these years of economic hardship;
Avinu Malkeinu, we stand with the poor, the unhoused, the uninsured, the undocumented.
Avinu Malkeinu, we stand with all workers, the ones who make our beds, serve our food, police our streets or teach our children;
Avinu Malkeinu, we will stand up against all those who would demean the sacred cause of worker justice.
Avinu Malkeinu, may this be the year we bring justice and equity for the workers of Hyatt;
Avinu Malkeinu, may this be the year we bring justice and equity for all who labor throughout the land.