Complaint: Picketing Hyatt Workers Were ‘Assaulted’ With Heat Lamps

CHICAGO (CBS) — The union representing workers at the Park Hyatt Hotel has filed charges with federal labor authorities, after the wintertime heat lamps were turned on during a picket in the midst of the heat wave last week.

UNITE HERE Local 1 filed the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of 170 Park Hyatt employees. The union says a manager at the hotel turned on the heat lamps during the demonstration on July 21, a day on which the high temperature eventually climbed to 99 degrees and the heat index topped 100.

“The employer assaulted the employees and tried to fry them by shining heat lamps on them in the middle of what was already a hot, humid day,” the union said in the statement.

Around 7 a.m., the lamps, which are used to warm up workers and guests during frigid weather, blinked on at the hotel’s main entrance at 800 N. Michigan Ave. Temperatures were already in the mid-80s at that point in the day, said Gabriel Carrasquillo, a restaurant server at the hotel.

“Initially we just thought, how unbelievable, they’re turning on the heat lamps in this heat advisory. This is what they think of us,” Carrasquillo said.

“They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” kitchen worker Linda Long said at the demonstration. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”

Carrasquillo later joined about 50 other protesters in chanting, “You can’t smoke us out,” and “Do what you want, we’re not leaving.”

Forty five minutes later, the lamps were turned off with no words from hotel management, he said. They were off by the time reporters arrived.

The hotel later issued a statement confirming the lamps were on, “but as soon as that fact came to our attention, they were turned off immediately.” The hotel also offered water to employees and guests in front of the hotel.

The union alleges Hyatt admitted a manager was responsible for turning heat lamps on the striking workers.

Although workers have been negotiating with management for two years, a major sticking point is subcontracting or outsourcing its housekeeping staff, a notion hotel workers consider a threat to their job security.

Hyatt called the strike “another tactic in the union’s campaign, designed to grow the membership and dues at the expense of the local members they aim to represent,” a statement said. The hotel said the protests have not affected any guest services.

Last week’s daylong strike coincided with protests at Hyatt hotels in nine other cities in the U.S.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed ot this report.

  • confused

    why is this dated August 1st 20011? I am time traveling?

  • Enrico Martinez Gonzalez Sanchito

    Unbelieveable!!!!! These people were not assaulted. Two seconds under the lamps couldn’t have hurt anyone. Anyone who stood there longer, are responsible for their own actions. They sound like they had no choice but to continue standing there. I also would do anything possible to make conditions for them as miserable as possible. They are disrupting hotel operations, and should be arrested for disorderly conduct. Besides, how many of these workers are sh!t illegal Mexicans to begin with. Why isn’t INS down there enforcing the law!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • IBEW guy

      Illegals don’t picket their workplace, genius.

      • Mike

        What world are you living in genius? Illegals protest this country on a regular basis.

    • NWA

      You’re just another damn racist! All these people want to do is work. If the hotel felt they were disruptive the hotel should have asks them to moved or called the police. The hotels reactions were of retaliation.


      • Torrence Robinson

        @NWA,If these people wanted to work, then that is what they would be doing. But instead they are trying to strongarm the hotel into paying more for unskilled labor than what it is worth.

  • malcom

    NO one says the company you are picketing against has to make things comfortable for you? what the hell is wrong liberals and marxists? YOu have to be a F*^ng idiot to live in a democrat city

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