Cruel and Unusual: In Sweltering Heat, Chicago Hyatt Turns Heat Lamps on Picketing Workers
In winter, it can be awfully nice to walk by a luxury hotel that has heat lamps over its entryway. It would be less nice on a day with temperatures over 90 degrees and a heat index over 100 degrees, as workers picketing outside the Chicago Hyatt Thursday could now tell you in some detail after the hotel's heat lamps were turned on over their picket line:
Combined with the outdoor air temperature, Linda Long says it was hotter than the Hyatt kitchen she’s worked in for eleven years.
“They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” Long said. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”
The heat lamps were turned off when the press showed up.
Mistreating workers is nothing new for Hyatt: the chain's housekeepers had the highest injury rates in a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and in 2009, the Boston-area Hyatt abruptly fired its longtime housekeeping staff in order to replace them with outsourced, minimum-wage labor.
Mike Klonsky points out that Hyatt heiress Penny Sue Pritzker (doesn't she just sound like the girl Richie Rich would date at summer camp) is the finance chair of President Obama's reelection campaign; Rahm Emanuel has also appointed her to the Chicago school board.