Stockton Street was blocked off Thursday afternoon as hundreds of union and nonunion workers protested in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel, causing the venue’s management to wonder why.
Police said approximately 80 people were cited for civil disobedience. Unite Here Local 2, which represents 12,000 hospitality workers throughout San Francisco and San Mateo County, organized eight other protests nationwide, which included a combination of union and nonunion Hyatt locations.
The sounds of chanting could be heard all around.
“Hyatt, stop the abuse! S.F. is a union town!” protesters shouted.
“Workers are not linen,” the signs held by picketers read.
Hyatt General Manager David Nadelman said the hotel is ready to sign the same contract that other hotels — Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental — have signed in the past few months.
“Why is the union preventing its own members from receiving almost two years of increased back wages?” Nadelman said. “Why are they hurting the tourism industry in this city as it prepares for the America’s Cup?”
The union says that even though Hyatt will sign the same agreement as other hotels have, Hyatt includes a clause in the contracts insisting that workers give up their rights to protest. The workers want to retain the right to strike to support other Hyatt employees across the nation.
Ian Lewis, research director for the union, said Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with temporary minimum-wage workers and imposed dangerous workloads on the remaining workers.
Hyatt spokesman Pete Hillan told The San Francisco Examiner the clause is written into all of Hyatt’s contracts.
“This is not different than the other contracts the union has agreed to,” Hillan said.