Heading into Fourth of July weekend, Hyatt Regency hotel workers in Garden Grove want more freedom on the job. A rally is planned this afternoon on the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue bringing together union allies and community members in support.
"The working conditions are very unjust," Hyatt Regency banquet worker Maricela Perez tells the Weekly in Spanish. "There's no respect of the majority of the workers."
The UNITE HERE Local 11-organized rally, slated for 4:30 p.m., follows earlier talks with hotel management on Monday. Union reps from the OC Labor Federation, SEIU, OCEA and UFCW joined the Hyatt Regency workers for a discussion that day centered on a fair process of organizing. Is it the first step in a unionization drive? Time will tell.
Until then, workplace rights at the resort area lodge on the border with Anaheim are poor say those who toil there. Housekeepers clean about 28 rooms a day, are getting on in age, and are hurried on the job so as to avoid a warning, says Perez.
"In the process, they end up getting hurt," the 46-year-old says of her coworkers. "The work doubles when someone calls in sick."
Perez has worked at Garden Grove's Hyatt Regency for 10 years now. She started in room service before that department got eliminated. Alongside others, Perez transferred over to the hotel's restaurant, albeit for lower wages. Her current assignment in the banquet department entails other hardships. "If we don't have a banquet at the hotel, then we can go a week without pay," Perez says.
The resort intersection where workers will rally later today hasn't been friendly to workers organizing in the past. Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue towers with hotels and restaurants thanks to Garden Grove lavishing developers with subsidies galore. Fifteen years ago, the Crowne Plaza Hotel across the way opened to pickets and calls for a union to no avail.
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Will anything be different this time around at the Hyatt Regency?
"We want our voices heard," says Perez. Workers want better health benefits than the current family plan costing more than $600 per month. "One-third of our salaries goes to medical insurance. We're looking for a change that benefits all of us."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2