Convention Deadline Looms For Hyatt Workers

A tentative agreement has been reached between the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Denver Convention Center and unionized employees. The city’s two most prominent dailies were quick to jump on the story as “putting behind months of tension over labor issues” and “potentially ending more than a year of negotiations.”

However, the tentative agreement is just that: tentative and not fully developed. Employees still do not have a full-fledged contract covering workplace issues like wages and benefits, even after the Democratic National Convention Committee named the Hyatt as official convention headquarters on Wednesday. Colorado Confidential has been covering contract negotiations between the Hyatt and labor union UNITE HERE since employees decided to join the union in September 2006.

While it’s true that employees did organize a union in September, it has taken well over a year for workers to obtain a contract, the bread and butter to what a union is, as former Denver Area Labor Federation president Leslie Moody said in a previous story:

“The contract is the core to what a union is. It’s a binding agreement between the workers and their employer that covers everything from wages and promotions and working conditions,” says Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation (DALF).

Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt (District 7), who worked in the labor community before serving on the council, sees the tentative agreement as a step in the right direction, but he points out that it is not the same as a contract.

“I’m confident that it will be consummated soon,” Nevitt says, noting that if a contract is not obtained by the convention it’s “going to be a big problem.”

UNITE HERE and the Hyatt did not return requests for further information on the tentative agreement or contract negotiations.

“We understand there’s some additional steps that need to be taken by the city, but we are confident that [Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper] will address the issue in a timely fashion because he understands how urgent it is to resolve this,” says Natalie Wyeth with the Democratic National Convention Committee, who also says that the tentative agreement was “overwhelmingly ratified by union membership last week.”

Before Denver was picked to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, the Hyatt had been touted as the only unionized hotel in the city — a boon to Denver’s bid for the event. The convention will take place from Aug. 25 to 28.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at