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Housekeepers deliver petition signed by nearly 100,000 worldwide to Hyatt, calling for the reinstatement of women fired after complaint about humiliating photos

[Santa Clara, Calif.] Hyatt workers, clergy, and local politicians are delivering nearly 100,000 petition signatures on two full reams of paper to the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara today, condemning the hotel’s dismissal of sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes. The petition, sponsored by SumOfUs.org in partnership with UNITE HERE, has drawn supporters from Australia, the United Kingdom, North America and beyond.

Last October, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara fired Martha and Lorena Reyes—two sisters with 30 years of combined experience—after an objection to the posting of demeaning pictures of housekeepers in bikinis on a bulletin board at work. The Reyes sisters have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in November 2011 and an investigation is ongoing.

“One day I came to work and saw men laughing at pictures on the wall. Someone had posted images of housekeepers’ faces attached to the bodies of women wearing bikinis,” says Martha Reyes, one of the two sisters. “I was so embarrassed. For me this is no joke. I take my job very seriously, and all I ask is to be treated with respect. Instead, Hyatt fired me, and now I may lose my home.”

The SumOfUs.org petition comes at a time of growing concern over Hyatt’s mistreatment of women workers. Women workers of Hyatt Hotels struggle daily with an employer that injures their bodies, disrespects their rights as mothers, and treats workers as if they are disposable. Hyatt housekeeper injury rates are high, and its subcontractors exploit immigrant women. In San Francisco, the Grand Hyatt threatened to fire a woman who could not return to work three days after a Caesarian Section. Last week, in response to a landmark multi-city injury complaint filing by Hyatt housekeepers in eight cities nationwide, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a companywide letter telling Hyatt its housekeepers are at risk. The OSHA letter was a first for the hotel industry.

“Nearly 100,000 SumOfUs.org members are joining the call for Martha and Lorena to be reinstated. Their firing was completely unfounded and underlines Hyatt’s terrible treatment of workers,” said SumOfUs.org Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. “Hyatt is one of the worst companies out there when it comes to how it treats its housekeepers—and if it doesn’t clean up its act, it’s going to start losing the business of conscientious consumers like our members. Nobody wants to sleep in a bed made by people treated the way Martha and Lorena were treated.”

Today’s action is the latest in a series of actions taken by Hyatt housekeepers from across North America, who have stepped out of the shadows to demand an end to the abuses they face at work.

Contact: Annemarie Strassel at 312-617-0495.

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UNITE HERE represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.