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Walmart and Hyatt Workers Unite to Demand Justice from Greg & Carrie Penner

Workers and community hold “Gala for the 99%” at site of Walmart & Hyatt Board members’ high-society fundraiser

April 19, 2012

Today, Bay Area Walmart and Hyatt workers will come together to demand that Greg and Carrie Penner address the injustice and abuse they face in the workplace.   The Penners are members of the Walton family – the richest family in the US and owners of Walmart.  Greg Penner sits on the Boards of Directors of both Walmart and Hyatt Hotels.  Walmart and Hyatt workers, joined by community members, will hold a “Gala for the 99%” at the site of the California Academy of Science’s “Big Bang Gala” in Golden Gate Park, which is co-hosted by Carrie Penner.  The protest, which will begin at 5:00pm in Golden Gate Park, is part of a nationwide 99% Power Campaign to hold corporate America, the 1%, accountable to the rest of us in the 99%. Read more.

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Mike Welch 1949-2012

Our good friend and brother, Mike Welch, passed away on Sunday, March 25.  Mike retired from his Field Representative position in 2004 due to health reasons.

Mike first worked at the Fairmont Hotel in the dish room beginning in the late 70s. It was a time, not unlike today, of social and political upheaval; and as an activist, Mike threw himself into the labor movement.

Over the course of approximately 30 years, Mike was an important part of the transformation of our Union, making it more member-driven, more militant and more relevant to industry workers.

Among his many accomplishments at Local 2, Mike was:

  • A member fo the 1980 hotel negotiating committee leading to the watershed hotel strike that year
  • An organizer and representative during the 1984 restaurant strike
  • Both an organizer and a candidate in numerous Local 2 elections seeking to make the Union more accountable to its membership
  • Always a strong voice for democracy and member participation in the Union
  • A leader in labor-management cooperation initiatives, like the opening of Michael Mina’s restaurant at the St. Francis
  • A strong advocate for all Local 2 members, especially our immigrant members who fought for a stronger voice on the job.

Mike recruited and trained key rank & file leaders in both the food service and hotel division of our Union.  He demonstrated a unique mix of both patience with the process of change and also righteous indignation when faced with societal and workplace injustice.

In spite of obstacles and the usual setbacks we encounter in our movement, Mike never wavered in his thoughtful and committed approach to improving workers’ lives.  We are indebted to Mike for his service to and belief in our members during times of labor peace and times of struggle.  He will be truly missed.

Mike Welch Memorial
Friday, April 20, 2012 – 4:30 PM
Local 87 Union Hall
240 Golden Gate Ave. (Across from Local 2)


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. Read more.

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Women Academics Decry Hyatt’s Sexualization of Housekeepers

December 15, 2011

As Women’s and Gender Studies faculty, we were outraged to find out that Hyatt had posted sexually suggestive photos of housekeepers, and fired a woman who objected and her sister.

We’re taking action. We call on other faculty and students to do the same.

Dear Colleagues,

In late September, the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, California, fired two women housekeepers, sisters Marta and Lorena Reyes. These middle aged mothers, active members of the workers organizing committee, found themselves featured on a digitally-created collage of bikini-clad “Hyatt Housekeepers” that management placed on a company bulletin board ostensibly for “Housekeeping Appreciation Week.” Humiliated by their depiction, Marta and Lorena removed their images from this display. Soon they were fired for taking a longer lunch to compensate for missed breaks. The sisters fought back by filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but hotel general manager, Peter Rice, has denied that the firing has anything to do with Marta and Lorena objecting to their depiction on the collage by removing their images. In subsequent sexual harassment trainings, management went on to flatly deny that it had objectified women’s bodies or engaged in any damaging act. (Reyes sisters portrait photograph by David Bacon.)

We are faculty in the field of women’s and gender studies. We urge faculty and students in higher education to join us in standing in solidarity with Marta and Lorena Reyes. The sexualization of housekeepers by Hyatt management is an appalling expression of power that has no place at work. It has tangible physical as well as psychological impacts. It belongs to a long list of well-documented abusive and unsafe practices that Hyatt housekeepers, many of them women of color, all over the country endure. According to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine of 50 hotels at five companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate among all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company. Hyatt has chosen to use its power to humiliate and bully rather than lead the industry in respecting the dignity of women’s labor and their right to a safe workplace.

Please sign this petition to strengthen the voices of these working women by delivering a loud and clear message to Hyatt that we will not tolerate corporations that humiliate and abuse their workers.

Hyatt housekeepers are part of our communities, the family members of our students, and workers who make our stay at hotels comfortable when we attend professional conferences. Thus we are joining the campaign to boycott Hyatt until they meet the following demands:

1) reinstate Marta and Lorena immediately, with back pay,

2) issue an apology to Marta and Lorena, as well as all the women who were subjected to and/or had to witness the objectification of women’s bodies, and

3) respond to Hyatt workers’ demands across North America that the corporation correct the unsafe, hazardous, and demeaning conditions facing them at work.

Organization/College/University affiliation requested for identification purposes only.

Eileen Boris
Hull Professor and Chair, Department of Feminist Studies
Professor of History and Black Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Monisha Das Gupta
Associate Professor
Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies
University of Hawaii, Honolulu

Sarah Haley
Assistant Professor
Women’s Studies and Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Shannon Gleeson
Ford Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Clara University (2011-12)
Assistant Professor Latin American and Latino Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

Jennifer Klein
Professor of History
Yale University

Nancy MacLean
Professor of History
Duke University

Virginia Parks
Associate Professor
School of Social Service Administration
University of Chicago

Shana Redmond
Assistant Professor
American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California

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Thousands demand that Hyatt put the Reyes sisters back to work

November 23, 2011

Martha and Lorena Reyes, the Hyatt Santa Clara housekeepers who filed retaliation charges with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), are still out of work this Thanksgiving.  Since Friday, however, when over 100 community supporters picketed the Hyatt Santa Clara in solidarity, thousands of people across the country have added their voices to the calls for the sisters’ reinstatement. Add your voice with our petition at, and check out the media coverage of the Reyes sisters’ case.

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