Contact: Leigh Shelton firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-533-3864
Hyatt uses iPod Touch to monitor productivity of room cleaners; Housekeepers report added strain
LOS ANGELES – A federal agency charged with enforcing labor law has issued a complaint against the Hyatt Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, alleging the hotel illegally implemented a new electronic tracking device that monitors productivity of housekeepers.
The system, known as “Rex” because it is animated by a wagging-tailed dog by the same name, consists of tracking software managed on iPods that tells housekeepers exactly which room to clean and when. It requires housekeepers clock when they enter and exit each guest room. It can send a housekeeper and her heavy cart from one end of the hotel to the other, sometimes hundreds of yards away, potentially increasing travel time from room to room. Housekeeping work can lead to debilitating injuries over time, and the federal government has identified pushing heavy carts as one key source of strain on the bodies of women who clean rooms.
“I welcome new technology, but this seems like nothing more than an inefficient surveillance system that has us running around the hotel,” said Sandra Miranda, a Hyatt Andaz housekeeper. “It was likely thought up by someone who has never worked as a housekeeper.”
Under the law, the hotels are required to negotiate before making changes to the terms of employment with the workers’ union. Instead Hyatt unilaterally imposed the tracking system on the workers despite the effect on their work.
“What’s so insidious about this system is that it robs housekeepers of their ability to manage their own work. It’s the 21st Century way for Hyatt to rush housekeepers, micromanaging their moves from a computer and making a housekeeper’s already-tough job harder,” said Ada Briceno, UNITE HERE Local 11 Secretary-Treasurer. “What’s next – electronic ankle bracelets?”
Some housekeepers also said they felt offended by the symbol of the dog. For housemen, the avatar is a chili pepper.
“It’s true we run around to get the rooms cleaned in time for guests, but why a dog? We’re not animals. Couldn’t they have used the symbol of a person walking like at traffic corners? That would have been a bit more humane,” said Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt Andaz housekeeper who testified to the NLRB about the tracking technology.