To Hyatt or Not to Hyatt

October 3, 2009

By Jay Hargis


That is the question here in Boston. So, let me tell you a story. The Hyatt Hotel in its attempt to, I’m sure, save money recently outsourced all of its housekeeping staff. But that isn’t really the story here. I am all for outsourcing when it makes sense but I’m more familiar with white collar outsourcing than I am with blue collar outsourcing. This was downright mean outsourcing.

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In any event, the management of the hotels told the housekeepers that they were training new workers to fill in for vacations and to reduce overtime. The staff, of course, was more than happy to train the relief workers and they understood that there would be less overtime.

Then, the hotel fired all of the housekeepers. Some with over 22 years of tenure. They had dutifully trained their replacements. The Hyatt leadership team thought this was a great idea. Well, it didn’t please the Governor of Massachusetts, the Mayor of Boston, or the Cab Drivers. Yep, all three threatened a boycott of the hotels.


They Hyatt responded. They offered the housekeepers their jobs back with the new outsourcing company at their current wage and benefit level for one year. Then, of course, their jobs would be eliminated and the new lower paid, crappy benefits team would rule the school.

And the Hyatt was surprised when many of the housekeepers didn’t take the deal. Why? Hmmm, it is like a slow death–just waiting for the clock to count down the days until they are finished. Many other hotels in town were more than happy to pick up the talent. In fact, the Hyatt housekeepers, fully trained in working in a full service business class hotel were happy to put themselves to work at the Marriott, Hilton, Westin, and the new uber hip W.

I reflect on Ted Kennedy Jr.’s speech at his father’s funeral mass. When young Ted queried his father about why he left money for the maid when she already gets paid his father reflected back to him “Teddy, making beds all day long is back breaking work. This woman has a family to feed and life isn’t easy” (I’m sure I’ve butchered the quote but you get the idea). If you want to hear the eulogy.

I think Ted Kennedy said all that needed to be said.

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