Greenwich Hyatt restaurant staff want to return to work

There’s something wrong with the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. This is a hotel that should serve our business community by providing a place where important meetings can take place over dinner or drinks; it is a place where groups should celebrate special events. There is an extraordinary atrium filled with whimsical water features and a variety of tree species. His restaurant has become an annual family tradition. But as guests continue to pay luxury hotel prices, the hotel restaurant is closed. As Connecticut’s hospitality industry gears up for bailout funds from the state of Connecticut, Hyatt Regency hotel management demands guests forgo a full-service hotel with cost-cutting measures that are hurting our tourism industry and eliminating good union jobs. We deserve better.

Fortunately, the bar and restaurant workers, who have served this hotel’s guests for decades, are now fighting for themselves, their families, guests, the hotel and our community.

I had the opportunity to hear from Hyatt Regency hotel bar and restaurant workers as they delivered a petition to Hyatt management asking for the hotel restaurant to reopen so they could resume work. When the Hyatt first closed in March 2020, these workers were laid off and they have struggled with a stagnant economy for the past year and a half, waiting to be called back to their jobs. Even though the Hyatt is busy again, the restaurant remained closed.

Many hotel employees I spoke to have worked at the Hyatt for decades and are devastated that the hotel they dedicated their careers to now treats them so disrespectfully. A worker pointed out that a family that comes to the Hyatt every Christmas asks for her by name. Another said he felt frustrated by reports of laid-off workers who did not want to return to work; on the contrary, he spent a year and a half waiting for the hotel to call him back to work. After years of serving the Hyatt, these employees are still out of work as the hotel welcomes more guests every day.

Even as these workers struggle with unemployment, they also worry about the damage these cost-cutting measures are doing to a hotel where they have spent much of their careers. Bar and restaurant workers have built relationships with customers over years of service. A worker has friends asking when the hotel will reopen the restaurant. Others worry that guests will abandon the hotel and stop making it part of their family trips.

Nothing about the pandemic was normal. During a time of fear and uncertainty, we have all made sacrifices to protect ourselves and our communities. But with the reopening underway, sacrifices shouldn’t become standardized. When a hotel like the Hyatt Regency recovers successfully, dedicated workers who have struggled through a year and a half of layoffs should be able to return to the jobs they depend on, and hotel guests should be able to enjoy full services when their visit. our city.

We now need a just recovery, instead of cost-cutting and job-cutting programs from an industry that is also crying out for public funds. Leisure and hospitality workers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Nearly 40% lost their jobs at the height of the pandemic. These workers are disproportionately female and non-white. Decisions made by hoteliers will determine whether we emerge from this crisis more divided and unequal.

Recently, Virginia Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Lodging Association, quoted an expert as saying that 35% of people in the hospitality industry who lost their jobs moved on to other industries. She suggested that “hospitality needs to be more proactive in offering hospitality as a career, not just a job”. You can call it a good job or a career, but now we have an opportunity where the hospitality industry can put Ms. Kozlowski’s suggestion into practice. Bar and restaurant workers, out of work for months, are fighting to get their good jobs back and are fighting for a full recovery of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Greenwich. Will the hospitality industry let go of the temptation of more destructive cost-cutting measures in favor of creating quality union jobs and restoring service that brings families back to the hotel every Christmas ? Will he stick with the austerity measures that leave workers unemployed and a city with fewer amenities that has made it a destination for business and leisure travel?

David Michel is a state representative for Stamford.

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