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The same Hyatt has a history of anti-labor activity
On Tuesday, faculty and students from more than 150 universities across the nation rallied on behalf of sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes, who were fired by the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara after they protested their faces being photoshopped to bikini bodies in the workplace. The protesters are calling on Hyatt to give the the women their jobs back.
Outraged by Hyatt’s actions, Women’s and Gender Studies faculty from several universities nationwide initiated the petition, explaining to colleagues in a cover letter that, “the sexualization of housekeepers is an appalling expression of power that has no place at work, . . . [and] 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.” In the statement signed by over 700 individuals from over 150 universities, supporters call on Hyatt to “reinstate the Reyes sisters” and “respond to Hyatt workers’ demands” that Hyatt “correct the unsafe, hazardous, and demeaning conditions facing them at work.”
It's clear that the firings were in retaliation for the women's actions, which were completely justified:
During National Housekeeping Week in September, employees of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara are usually given some kind of recognition for their hard work. Instead, two sisters, Martha and Lorena Reyes, found photos of their faces "Photoshopped" onto photos of bikini-clad women posted in the staff room. The actual Hyatt photo appears on the left-hand side of the image above, provided by the Reyes' attorney. The sisters agreed to share the photos with the media.
Hyatt spokesperson Peter Hillen said that the hotel was aware of a collage of the associates within the department in which faces of many employees were superimposed onto images of people at a beach, but that they are just beginning the process of figuring out all of the facts. “We’re not quite sure who was behind the collage – whether it was a single individual or a department,” said Hillen.
Whether out of spite or for a laugh, the photos were “shameful,” said Lorena Reyes. "It was very humiliating in my own workplace," she said.
In shock and discomfort, she said, she and her sister ripped the photo down and voiced their opposition to the management. In mid-October, both sisters were fired.
According to the two sisters, hotel management told them they were let go because they allegedly took lunch breaks 10 minutes longer than allotted. The sisters, meanwhile, argue that they often missed their 10-minute break as a result of their heavy workload, and decided to add the 10 minutes to their lunch. Lorena said they've been doing that for years along with other employees who are unable to take their 10-minute break. Hillen could not speak to specifics because of employee privacy issues, but declared that their firing was “separate and apart from the issues of the images” and was a result of “clear and consistent violations of hotel policy and procedures.”
Lorena has been working for the Hyatt for 24 years. Her sister, Martha, has been working there for six years. They claim the hotel management never talked to them about this matter until this incident occurred.
Supporters of the Reyes sisters can sign a petition for Hyatt to rehire them:
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.