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Home » Member Profiles » Member Profile: Cynthia Reed

Cynthia Reed — PBX Operator — Hyatt Regency San Francisco  – 22 years of service

A lot of people ask me, “Why do you fight?  You don’t have children.”  I fight because my co-workers have children.  I fight because my co-workers have medical issues.  I fight because it’s the right thing to do and it makes me feel good.  And when I fight, I’m standing up for my rights as well.  I always turn to my Bible and refer to the Malachi.  There are certain things that God asks of us, especially those that He has blessed to be rich.  God says, “Take care of the fatherless and the widows, treat the immigrants in your country justly, and pay your workers fair.”  Those are the only things that are asked.  Pay them fair, because you’re blessed to be rich.  Needless to say, corporations won’t do it.

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, I moved to San Francisco as a child.  My maternal grandparents died when my mother was very young.   My mother was left to raise five of her younger siblings and me.  She has always provided for us.  Growing up as an African-American has been very difficult.  People believe that racism only exists in the South, but hidden racism saturates San Francisco. I have been surrounded by a lot of racism, especially when I was going to school.  The only difficulties I have been faced with have been outside of my home.

My household is the kind of place where you feel, this is home.  My mom provided me with a good life.  She always taught us about love and to have respect for each other.  Now she’s 68 and retired.  We live together, using her pension and my salary.  In a city as expensive as San Francisco, I will never own my own home.

I’ve worked at the Hyatt for 22 years, but for me, the lockout in 2004 changed everything.  I’d never talked to the housekeepers before because they were always in the rooms and I was in the back office.  The lockout was the first time we actually sat down together and ate and learned about each other lives.  I met housekeepers who had breast cancer, or had children who were sick and were really struggling.  I watched these women come to the picket line, and I saw their sadness.  The sadness became anger and the anger turned into fierceness.  They stood up and fought even harder.

I didn’t have any fear during the lockout.  I believe in God, and I know that the most important thing in life is love.  I had no fear and I was able to build strength from there.  I found joy out there talking, communicating and spending time with my co-workers.  There’s no fear, because I represent the workers, I stand up for them, and I feel encouragement from them.  I feel strength.  We could stand by each other and give each other support.

Now I talk to people who work at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf, and the stories I hear anger and upset me.  One waitress told me she can be in the middle of a shift, and the boss can come in and say, “You know what?  You go home.” Then the boss can put her favorite person into that shift instead.  The managers can just play favorites.  What I say to Hyatt is, If you were a fair company, what does it matter if the workers at non-union hotels have card check? What are you running from?  What are you hiding?  If the workers want a union, what harm does that do to Hyatt?  We know they have the money.  In the last few months, Hyatt opened a bunch of new hotels.  They have money to build, but no money for people?  They don’t want the workers to have a fair chance to choose.  They don’t want the workers to have rights.  They don’t want workers to have a voice.  No matter what it takes, we must never surrender our voice.

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