By PAUL LAVERACK
EL NUEVO SOL
Below is a series of video interviews taken during the hotel housekeepers’ weeklong, round-the-clock strike against the Hyatt Andaz hotel in West Hollywood, CA from September 8-15, 2011. Speakers include Cathy Youngblood, a 60-year-old housekeeper from the Hyatt Andaz; Tom Walsh, the president of Unite Here Local 11, the hotelworkers union; Judy Chu, Democratic Congresswoman from the 32nd district; Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilman; and Leigh Shelton, the union’s Communications Director.
In this in-depth interview, Hyatt Andaz housekeeper Cathy Youngblood describes why she has gone out on strike for a week, from September 8-15, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. She describes an environment of excessive stress, constant overwork, and disregard for employee safety, all in the interest of greater corporate profits for Hyatt.
Youngblood, 60, describes how her childhood memories of the civil rights struggle inform her present activism, and her hopes that more Americans will express their discontent with a broken economic and political system by taking to the streets. This interview was filmed exactly one week before the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement, so perhaps Ms. Youngblood is getting her wish.
Leigh Shelton, the Communications Director for Unite Here Local 11, responds to criticism from area residents about the round-the-clock noise of the picket line, as well as questions about why the hotelworkers shout at guests who cross the picket line.
Weary, hoarse, sunburned, and fresh out of jail after his arrest, Unite Here Local 11 president Tom Walsh remained defiant, as he rattled off the hotelworkers’ list of grievances against the greed and cruelty of the Hyatt Corporation. Walsh was an energetic participant in the union’s weeklong strike outside the luxurious Hyatt Andaz hotel, located on the world-famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA.
Congresswoman Judy Chu, Democrat from California’s 32nd district, comes out in support of striking hotelworkers at the luxurious Hyatt Andaz hotel in West Hollywood, CA on September 10, 2011. In addition to explaining why she thinks it is vital to stand with the housekeepers, Chu discusses recent developments in Congress and statements from President Obama, with respect to the precarious condition of working people in the US.
Leigh Shelton, Communications Director for Unite Here Local 11, responds to a statement from Hyatt management, alleging the union has incited the strike unnecessarily. Shelton concedes that wages and benefits are not at the center of the issue, but that the union needs to face down Hyatt’s abusive practices anywhere they occur.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl gives an impassioned address to striking housekeepers and their supporters at the Hyatt Andaz hotel in West Hollywood, California on September 10, 2011. Rosendahl explains why he thinks it is essential to support the housekeepers against Hyatt’s greed.
Betsy Butler, the Democratic Assemblymember for California’s 53rd Assembly district, takes time out from marching with the picket line with striking hotelworkers at the Hyatt Andaz hotel, to give a wide-ranging interview sharing her insider’s perspective on politics both statewide and national. She offers what she knows about the hotelworkers’ fitted-sheets bill working its way through the California legislature. This bill would reduce workplace injuries for housekeepers at hotels statewide, including the Hyatt Andaz.
Leigh Shelton, Communications Director for Unite Here Local 11, displays a full-page advertisement from a subcontracting firm which depicts human beings as cheap items in a vending machine. Shelton discusses the content of the advertisement, and uses it as an example of the callous corporate culture which the union is fighting against.