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Local hotel workers and their community
supporters protest the unjust and unfair
treatment of Hyatt’s workers in Long
Beach, California.

PHOTO /BELLA PEYSER
By Barry Sacks

More than 100 people, including many local hotel workers and their community supporters protested the unjust and unfair treatment of Hyatt’s workers in Long Beach, California, as part of a larger protest directed at Hyatt hotels in 15 cities in North America, on Thursday, July 22.

Outside the hotel, protestors, mostly wearing the red shirts of UNITE-HERE, picketed and shouted chants in English and Spanish.

Benjamin Cuison, who cleans hallways and rooms at the Hyatt, was picketing. Cuison said, “We want a union because they are mistreating us. If we had a union, the union could protect us.”

Marcelino Due, who works in the hotel’s kitchen, also picketed. Due complained how the hotel harassed the worksite activists by cutting their hours and by giving them extra work.

Music student Menchie Caliboso, who is home for the summer, carried a sign, which read, “Community Members United for Responsible Hotels.”

Inside the hotel, 30 protestors, including members of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, first listened to Long Beach Area Peace Network member Naida Tushnet speak. Tushnet said, “We’re here today in solidarity with over a thousand workers and community members across America who are standing up against Hyatt. Hyatt Long Beach treats its workers unfairly. Workers are denied meal breaks, denied rest breaks, and overtime pay …. These workers are forced to clean up to 30 rooms a day … twice what most hotels ask their employees to do. Workers have suffered crippling injuries on the job here.”

After Tushnet spoke, a brief prayer followed. The 30 protestors left with linked arms and no arrests. Long Beach Fourth District Councilman Patrick O’Donnell, a member of the California Teachers Association, told the protestors, “We (the city of Long Beach) have subsidized the construction of these hotels. Long Beach has supported the hotel industry. It is time for the hotel industry to support Long Beach. Tourism is the backbone of Long Beach and the workers are the backbone for tourism.”

According to the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Long Beach taxpayers have subsidized the Hyatt with more than $76 million toward the building and operation costs of the hotel. While no one was arrested in Long Beach, 152 were arrested in San Francisco, 63 in West Hollywood, 41 in Indianapolis, dozens in Honolulu and about 25 in Chicago.

The Pritzker family founded the Hyatt hotels. Penny Pritzker, a leading family member, served as the national finance chair of the Obama presidential campaign and is on the Obama administration’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Pritzker opposes the Employee Free Choice Act. According to the blog Truthout “Cozying up to Obama was one of a series of calculated moves to repair the family’s damaged personal reputation and to cultivate a carefully crafted image of social concern. For example, the Pritzker Foundation recently made a $10 million, tax-deductible donation to Stanford University ‘to create a scholarship fund dedicated to supporting Chicago students with the greatest financial need.’ Simultaneously, the Pritzkers continually cut staff and increase workloads at their hotels. As a result, the Hyatt had the highest reported rate of injury in 2009 for housekeepers in an academic study of 50 major hotels.”

Barry Saks is on the board of the Long Beach Area Peace Network which is concerned with peace and social justice issues.






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New “Pay to Park lot” recently added
in Berrien County Beach area.

PHOTO/LENETTE EVANS

By Joe Peery

CHICAGO — As the current economic depression, referred to as the “Great Recession,” continues to deepen, so does homelessness increase across the country and here in Chicago. Not only has the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) given 180-day notices to families who still occupy the last three high-rise buildings left standing in Cabrini Green, but they are also proposing to demolish the row houses, including those sections that were recently renovated. If that happens, Cabrini residents who wish to stay in this area will only have the choice of moving into mixed income buildings. At first glance, this is a real treat, in that these apartments are brand new, with amenities like balconies, gardens, dish washers, washers and dryers, etc. However, for some former Cabrini residents, such as Sam Whitaker, moving into mixed income units has proved to be little more than a pit stop on the way to homelessness.

What follows are excerpts from an interview with Sam Whitaker, an ice cream caterer and a local DJ. He has lived in Cabrini Green all of his life and is known throughout the neighborhood. He recently moved to the new mixed income building. The interview describes his eviction from that building.

PT: Why were you evicted?

San Whitaker: I had words with the property managers in my building. I lived down the hall from one of them, Ms Pittman. She came to me wrong on our very first meeting. She said, “Mr. Whitaker, I’m not here to be your friend. I’m not here for you. I work for Peter Holsten, “ (the management company.)

PT: Did you feel they didn’t want you there?

SW: Yeah, from day one. I’m a single Black man. My family came to see me everyday. They said my kids couldn’t stay with me and I was fine with that. They were picked up and dropped off everyday. Mind you, these are my kids, so I don’t see the problem with that.

PT: When did you first realize they wanted you out?

SW: Right after I first moved in. Don’t get me wrong. They did me a favor moving me in, but I didn”t know it was going to be Hell after that... I sent my daughter downstairs to do my laundry. They wrote me up for that. You put the card in, you take the card out, and you put the clothes in the machine. They wrote me up because I sent my daughter to do my laundry.

PT: Is there a rule against that?

SW: I have no idea. I just realized they never gave me a copy of my lease.

PT: What does it mean that they “wrote you up?”

SW: They wrote me a warning. With this warning you get one strike. This is not baseball ladies and gentleman. One strike and you’re out of here. These people have the power to say, “We don’t want you here any more.” And that’s what my lease consisted of. I thought it was the loud music, I thought it was the travel...

PT: Did they warn you about loud music?

SW: They wrote me up for loud music. I had surround sound system speakers on. You can hear my neighbor’s toilet flush. You can hear my neighbor’s blender go off. I had my music on level two. How loud can that be? Let me describe the scenery for you... thin walls. This is the situation. This was a plan built to get you in and get you out. Plain and simple as that.

Part two will appear in the next issue of the People’s Tribune. It will describe Sam’s effort to get help to prevent his eviction.






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