|Jane Ramsey (JCUA), a translator & the three Hyatt housekeepers:|
Linda Lopez (L.A.) Drupatiie Jungra (Boston) Ofelia Martinez (Chicago)
Chicago, August 28, 2011
Last week I heard the story of a Hyatt worker who was fired from her job of 29 years and replaced by temp workers whom she had trained. On August 31, 2009, all the housekeeping staff at three Boston Hyatt hotels were fired and replaced by temps. Management had lied to her and her co-workers about why they were training these new workers. According to this worker, the general manager of the Hyatt Regency Cambridge told the housekeeping staff on the day of their dismissal that the reason they were being fired was because the hotel was short of money. The reality is that the hotel industry is, and has been doing very well, with high occupancy rates, as reported by Hyatt itself. The actual hardship is born by the workers. In our "jobless recovery" desperate people will take any job, undercutting workers who are just a little better off than they are.
Hyatt has a problem. The company is required to constantly increase its earnings. Since business is already booming, the money will have to come from cutting costs. Since the hotel cannot lower its standards of hospitality, this means that costs must be cut. And that means labor. Our 'jobless recovery' has generated an abundance of poor, unemployed people, a bonanza in cheap labor.
You might think that dismissing veteran, loyal, hardworking staff might be a bump in this plan. But, actually, the real problem is how to exploit this change to cut out the messy business of dealing with people.
Thankfully, this problem has a solution. Hospitality Staffing Solutions provides affordable, hassle-free labor. HSS sums up its pitch with one advertizing image. "HSS offers convenience at affordable prices." - just like the vending machine in the company's advertizing:
|HSS ad targeting Hyatt and other hotels and hospitality businesses|
I find the company's ad offensive on several levels.
1) The size of the workers. The images are reduced to the size of a packet of M&Ms. You can pop these workers into your mouth. This is humiliating: all these workers added together are still smaller than the client.
2) The workers in each category are identical to each other - all workers are equally indistinguishable from each other. These clones are faceless, dependable drones.
3) The clean transaction of the vending machine translates into the business world. The vending machine offers you no shopping for food, cooking, sitting down to eat and cleaning up. Just put some change into the vending machine and pop instant food into your mouth. Similarly, HSS promises employers protection from dealing with all the human messiness of real people.
Finally - and perhaps it's my own sensitivity having just finished working Holocaust material - but talking about human beings in terms of "solutions" leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Now, take another look at the workers in the first picture. Do they look like they belong in a vending machine?