Submitted by Pancho Valdez
Between 40-50 activists came together at Travis Park United Methodist Church in San Antonio to listen to seven current and former waiters, bartender, cook and housekeepers give their testimony to a panel of academic, community activist and religious leaders. Those attending the meeting also reaffirmed their support of UNITE HERE’s boycott of Hyatt.
All seven testified that it is now a common practice for restaurants and hotels to attach a 22-23% “service charge.” This service charge has traditionally gone to workers as a gratuity, but that is no longer the case. According to those who testified, workers at the Grand Hyatt are told to lie to customers and tell them that the service charge is going to them.
At the downtown Palm Restaurant workers are told that if they don’t like the tip policy, they can work elsewhere.
The panel composed of Dr. Roger Barnes a university professor, Viola Casares program director, Fuerza Unida, Diane Duesterhoeft from First Unitarian Church, Rev. Christopher Gentile from Grace Lutheran, Senior Pastor Leslie Price of Christ Lutheran Church of Alamo Heights Judge Ron Rangel from the 175th Criminal District Court, and Rosa Rosales former national president of LULAC agreed that the practice was not only unfair, but amounted to theft on the part of the employers.
A solution to address this issue has been proposed as Mi TIA, (Tip Integrity Act) to be presented to the San Antonio City Council as an ordinance. This ordinance is supported by UNITE HERE,the hospitality workers union.
Workers along the San Antonio Riverwalk have been abused and exploited for decades. These workers have for the most part been Mexican American and women.
The meeting ended with calls to support the international boycott of Hyatt facilities, which was given support by the people gathered. UNITE HERE called the boycott to protest Hyatt’s treatment of its workers. According to UNITE HERE, “Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry. Hyatt has abused its housekeepers and other hotel workers, replacing longtime employees with minimum wage temporary workers and imposing dangerous workloads on those who remain.”