Trending
MOST READ
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Best-Dressed Woman

Best-Dressed Woman

People: Critic's Pick: 4/23/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012
Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Guide: It’s almost summer, which means that your government-subsidized free daycare (aka public school) goes on hiatus thanks to an archaic allegiance to a rural agriculture economic system that hasn’t been in play for decades. What to do with the wee ones whining 5/21/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

Hyatt protests escalate with hundreds on the street and 11 arrests

Photo: Photos by Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Minutes before arrest: Market Street standoff.

Photo: , License: N/A

Elvia Claudio and daughter Perla Terrazas.


Organizers here say they hope Thursday’s action will be the first to spark a union revival across downtown’s mostly service economy, leading to large-scale unionizing of River Walk hotel staff. “When we look at San Antonio, we’re not just looking at the Hyatt. We’re hoping to help organize all the hotels downtown. … We know too well the conditions at the Hyatt aren’t unique,” Kutalik said.

Unite Here has scored some small victories in its three years organizing local Hyatt workers. After a settlement last year between the hotel, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, and Unite Here the Grand Hyatt began posting flyers at workstations throughout the hotel acknowledging employees’ right to organize, and the hotel hired back one employee who claimed he was fired in retaliation for union organizing.

Unite Here has also set its sights on building a more labor-friendly council in San Antonio, mimicking similar strategies in cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix by launching a massive campaigning effort behind now District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal’s recent run for office. Bernal himself made a short appearance at Thursday’s rally.

According to Unite Here’s figures, the San Antonio hospitality industry is the area’s third-largest employer, closely behind medical services and defense-related jobs. The industry, they say, employs one out of eight workers in the area, though at a local average wage between $8.39 and $8.69 per hour, well below the average national wage for similar jobs, which trends between $9.72 to $9.90 per hour.

The group also points to an American Journal of Industrial Medicine study published last year examining five large hotel companies that showed Hyatt workers with the highest rate of injuries — something union organizers insist is due to increasingly unsafe working conditions. Women on staff are also 50 percent more likely to be injured than men, and Hispanic women had double the rate of injury of their white counterparts, according to the study.

Hyatt managers have called Unite Here’s actions against the hotel chain an aggressive smear campaign and question the AJIM study. In response to Thursday’s arrests, Tom Netting, the Grand Hyatt’s managing director, released a written statement saying, “Instead of bargaining in good faith, Unite Here union leaders have decided to remain the only obstacle standing in the way of what would provide associates with higher hourly wages, healthcare coverage and enhanced retirement contributions.

“While the union membership demonstrates, we remain prepared to complete negotiations or elections to allow our associates to decide what kind of work-life they choose to have,” he said.

Unite Here’s Holmes doesn’t buy it.

“When I speak to doctors who work on these workers’ comp cases, they’ll say that you’ll never see anything worse than a strain or a contusion coming out of these places. … We looked at paperwork from this one woman who had a torn ligament in her knee, and they were saying she just had a contusion,” Holmes said. “It’s very hard for the workers to get a good doctor’s opinion, especially when H.R.’s pressuring them.”

Said Claudio: “Really, I don’t think the doctor’s opinion matters as much as H.R.’s opinion.”

Surrounded last week by a wave of signs and chanting protestors, Kutalik said last week’s arrests are just a sign of what’s to come. “This is just the beginning of this full-court press. This is escalation, that is what’s happening here. We’re gaining momentum, really building this local movement.” •

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus