Gay and Lesbian Journalists to Bust Boycott by Hotel Workers in Order to Hold Their Conference as Planned

A reblog from Suzan’s “Women Born Transsexual” blog. See the original (link below) for imbedded YouTube videos.

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My brief commentary before Suzan’s article: Getting queer groups to practice solidarity with other movements has always been an uphill battle, and those of us who belong to more than one “constituency” are constantly caught in the squeeze when it comes to mainstream LBTGQ politics. In recent years, the near-total loss of grassroots contact and the gentrification of LBTGQ leaders has only made things worse. (Case in point: When “gay” leaders went looking to traditional immigrant-activist groups for support regarding the Uniting American Families Act, which would provide us with the legal right to sponsor our non-US-citizen same-sex partners for immigration purposes, they largely got the cold shoulder. “Where were you when we needed you?” immigrant-rights activists asked. Good question.)

When it’s a matter of solidarity with the working-class, you can nearly forget about it, and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association ought to be ashamed of the example this action sets.

For the record: The NLGJA argues that the organization would be “bankrupted” by the hotel’s hefty cancellation fee. That’s almost convincing — until you consider the fact that the Hyatt Regency San Francisco has been a notoriously anti-union hotel for a DECADE and has been the subject of numerous pickets for its treatment of workers. (See, e.g., “FlashMob Boycott: Don’t Get Caught in a Bad Hotel.”) Is the NLGJA really going to argue with a (pardon the expression) straight face that they didn’t know?

If the hotel failed to volunteer information about labor disputes, why didn’t NLGJA ask? Surely they’d have made sure to find out whether a potential venue discriminated against queer people, right?

Write about that, NLGJA journalists.

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Gay and Lesbian Journalists to Bust Boycott by Hotel Workers in Order to Hold Their Conference as Planned

09/02/2010 — Suzan

My grandparents on my father’s side came here from Poland.  At Ellis Island they got a different name.  From Ellis Island they were taken to the iron mines of a company town called Mineville with company housing and a company store.  They were paid in company money called script good only for that company house and the company stores.  They were illiterate and the doctor who delivered my father spelled his name differently from the rest of his brothers and sisters.  My grandfather died of miner’s lung.

My other grandmother worked as a seamstress in the clothing and textile factories.

After my father came home from WW II he got a union job as a welder.  He was a member of the United Steel Workers Union.  Good pay, good benefits and a pension for hard body breaking work.

I grew up in a union house and learned early on that only the lowest forms of life cross workers picket lines. Rats, louses and scabs…

I am working class and proud.  I believe every worker should belong to a union and that unions should be able to break a corporation as easily as the corporations now break unions.

Therefore imagine my utter shock and disgust when I read the following from The Washington Bladehttp://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/09/01/gay-journalists-to-face-union-picket-line/

Gay journalists to face union picket line

Lou Chibbaro Jr. | Sep 01, 2010

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has declined a request to withdraw its annual convention from San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Hotel this weekend in connection with a labor union boycott of the hotel.

In a statement posted on its website, NLGJA officials said a cancellation of its contract with the hotel, which was signed three years ago, would result in a $150,000 penalty that could bankrupt the group.

The San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work, an LGBT labor group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, joined the city’s hotel workers union, Unite Here! Local 2, in calling on NLGJA to honor the union-initiated boycott of the Hyatt in an effort to win a long-delayed union contract for hotel employees.

“Although NLGJA understands the importance of collective bargaining and recognizes that worker actions are not to be blithely ignored, it is simply impossible at this late date for us to move this year’s convention to another hotel,” NLGJA President David Steinberg said in a statement.

“NLGJA was contacted by organizers from Unite Here! Local 2 in June, and we have had conversations with them for more than a month,” the statement says.

About 225 people were expected to attend the NLGJA convention, which was scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront district Sept. 2-5, according to NLGJA executive director Michael Tune.

<snip>

Israel Alvaran, community outreach organizer for Unite Here! Local 2 and a member of Pride at Work said NLGJA would likely be faced with some added expenses for moving its convention to another hotel. But he said the union would have intervened to help NLGJA challenge a penalty fee from the Hyatt on grounds that the hotel most likely did not inform NLGJA of labor disputes and the possibility of a hotel boycott at the time the gay journalists group signed its contract with the hotel.

He noted that hotel labor disputes have been taking place in San Francisco for the past four years or longer.

“We’re disappointed that it never got to that point,” Alvaran said. “They never took the first step to look into moving the meeting.”

Read entire article complete with rationalizations on the part of this Gay and Lesbian Journalists organization as to why they won’t honor the picket line at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/09/01/gay-journalists-to-face-union-picket-line/

Today when I listen to so many people who transition in middle age I am struck how many have class privilege.  They have professions and degrees, economic security that so many of us who were runaways or throwaways, people of color who grew up poor will never have.

I listen to those who carry on about ENDA, which for them means keeping that professional job.  But ENDA doesn’t mean so much when the jobs available to members of your class are part of the new servant economy.  When you are a barista with a degree.

For some of us the Employee’s Free Choice Act, benefits that include part time and contract/temp worker as well as issues like a “Living Wage” mean as much or more than things like ENDA.  Big fucking deal if you get a job where you aren’t discriminated against if you can’t afford to keep a roof over your head, eat, dress well enough to meet the dress code.  And I might add have enough left to enjoy living if only a little.

When the Textile workers in Lowell, Mass. went out on strike in the early 20th Century they demanded not just bread but roses too.

The LGBT/TQ movements owe much to the idea of Unions.  Harry Hay was a union organizer and many of us who have fought long and hard for LGBT/TQ rights are the children of union parents.

So I say to those of you who are journalists attending this conference. Shame upon you if you do not honor the worker’s picket lines.

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