San Francisco police arrested dozens of protesters Thursday evening following a demonstration in front of the Grand Hyatt Union Square.
The union representing the hotel's workers organized the protest, one of eight demonstrations against the chain across the nation. A UNITE HERE Local 2 press release said the events sought to “end the abuses” faced by Hyatt workers, including the replacement of long-term employees with lower-paid temporary workers.
“This is all because Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst of the worst,” said Ian Lewis, research director for Local 2. “At this hotel, we've been fighting for a contract for two years.”
Hundreds of people crowded the sidewalk, marching, holding signs and chanting slogans.
Hyatt spokesman Pete Hillan said nearly 100 police officers were required to manage the crowd.
Officers used Muni buses to take the demonstrators to jail. As the buses pulled away, protesters continued to chant, calling for a contract.
“This is all street theater,” Hillan said. “Over the last 18 months, we've seen it all.”
Hillan said Hyatt has already offered the workers a contract on par with those at other local hotels.
“We're sitting here with pen poised,” Hillan said. “Our question is why Local 2 holds its membership hostage to a national agenda.”
Cynthia Reeb, a Local 2 member and switchboard operator for the nearby Hyatt Regency, said a suitable contract would provide fair wages, health care and job security.
“We only want what's fair,” Reeb said. “We're asking people to understand that this isn't just our problem. It's an American problem.”