Government seeks order requiring Hyatt to withdraw from immigration enforcement program
A federal agency charged with enforcing labor law has issued a complaint against the Grand Hyatt Union Square and Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Hotels in San Francisco alleging that Hyatt violated the law when it implemented the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program earlier this year.
Hyatt workers voiced concerns in April 2012 when the two Hyatt hotels posted notices of Hyatt’s enrollment in the E-Verify program. Under the law, the hotels are required to negotiate changes to terms of employment – including implementation of E-Verify – with the workers’ union.
In the complaint, the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board seeks an order requiring the two Hyatt Hotels “to provide written notice to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to terminate their enrollment in the E-Verify program.” A hearing date has been set for October 31, 2012.
E-Verify is a program run by the DHS by which employers electronically check the Social Security numbers of newly- hired employees. Participation in E-Verify is optional.
Francisco Ugarte, an immigration attorney with the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network, says of the program, “E-Verify is riddled with errors, and there’s no oversight to make sure that the program isn’t used for nefarious reasons. It’s obvious that employers use immigration enforcement as a tool to keep workers down.”
Hyatt’s decision to use E-Verify is one of several practices that negatively impact its largely immigrant workforce. Hyatt’s aggressive use of subcontracting allows it to pay housekeepers poverty wages while evading legal liability for unsafe working conditions. Subcontracting frequently leads to the exploitation of undocumented immigrants who can more easily be abused by employers who do not bear the legal responsibility for their employment. Hyatt housekeepers, who are almost all immigrant women of color, have heavy workloads that can lead to debilitating pain and injuries. Hyatt has even fired immigrant women shortly after they have spoken out about abuse and indignities at work.
Numerous immigrant rights organizations have joined the Global Boycott of Hyatt Hotels, including Center for Community Change, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Asian Law Caucus, and the Immigrant Rights Commission of the City and County of San Francisco.