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LGBT activists join Hyatt workers protest
Photos by Lauryn Farris, QSanAntonio.com, July 28, 2012

Hotel workers held a protest and rally in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel downtown Thursday afternoon, July 26, to call attention to tip money they are not receiving from the hotel.

The protest drew about 50 people, including LGBT activists from the Stonewall Democrats, GetEqual and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

Groups that use the Grand Hyatt are assessed a 22 percent “service charge” or gratuity for dinners or events. However, the workers accuse the Hyatt of not passing this “tip” on to them. There is presently no law or ordinance requiring the Hyatt or any San Antonio hotel, for that matter, to disclose to its customers and workers where this tip money goes. Many hotel workers support their families with tips they receive.

Unite Here!, the labor union that has spent years organizing hotel workers at the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency downtown, is now advocating for a new city ordinance called the Tip Integrity Act, or MI TIA for short. MI TIA would require all hotels in San Antonio to tell their customers and workers where this tip money goes.

Union leaders emphasize that the Grand Hyatt received a tax abatement, or subsidy, of $207 million from the city to be built next to the convention center downtown.



Speaking at the rally were two hotel workers, former LULAC President Rosa Rosales, Bexar County Federation of Teachers President Tom Cummins and Stonewall Democrats activist Dan Graney.

In her remarks, Rosales exhorted the crowd to call the mayor and city council to urge them to pass the MI TIA. Cummins reminded those in attendance that the Grand Hyatt broke its promises to maintain neutrality on union organizing and to pay fair wages and provide a safe workplace.

In his remarks, Graney stated that labor unions were protecting LGBT workers long before the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and that “LGBT Rights Are Workers' Rights!”. Graney urged LGBT individuals and organizations not to patronize Hyatt hotels in San Antonio “until they change their ways”.

This past Monday, Unite Here! announced a global boycott of all Hyatt hotels at a press conference in Washington, D.C. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis was present and issued a press release calling for all Stonewall Democrats members to honor Unite Here!'s boycott.

Darlene Nipper, Deputy Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force offered the following in a press conference in San Francisco on July 26: ""The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has long stood with labor, and we do so again today, this time in support of the hard-working housekeepers who have called for a global boycott of Hyatt in response to the company's low wages and abuse of workers. We stand here because all people deserve the right to find and keep a job in a safe work environment, with a living wage. We stand here because we are workers too. And, as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - particularly those of color - we are acutely aware of what it means to be economically vulnerable."

Unite Here! has created a special website for the LGBT community called “Sleep With The Right People”, where LGBT travelers can find unionized alternatives to Hyatt when seeking hotel accommodations in the U.S. and Canada.

Remarks by Dan Graney at Hyatt rally
QSanAntonio.com, July 26, 2012

My name is Daniel Graney and I am the immediate past president of the Texas Stonewall Democrats. As a queer political activist in the Democratic Party, I stand with Unite Here in support of our hotel workers.

The LGBT community's relationship with organized labor stretches back decades. Even before the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, labor unions were there fighting to help protect the jobs of their LGBT member employees. As Stonewall Democrats, we believe that every worker deserves fair treatment, a reasonable wage and a safe workplace.

That is why Stonewall Democrats has joined a growing number of LGBT organizations, like Pride At Work, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Black Justice Coalition to honor the international boycott of Hyatt Hotels that was announced last week in Washington, D.C.

Simply put, “LGBT Rights are Workers' Rights!” “Workers' Rights are LGBT Rights”!
Unite Here!, the union which organized this international boycott, is a strong ally of the LGBT community. Thanks to Cleve Jones, who was Harvey Milk's lieutenant and founder of the NAMES PROJECT AIDS Memorial Quilt, a special website has been created for the LGBT community called Sleep With The Right People, where LGBT travelers can find unionized alternatives to Hyatt when seeking hotel accommodations in the US and Canada.

We stand in solidarity with Hyatt workers across the country. We have heard the stories of abuse and discrimination.

• WE HAVE HEARD HOW Hyatt replaces career housekeepers with temporary workers earning minimum wage with few or no benefits

• WE HAVE HEARD HOW Hyatt housekeepers have heavy workloads that can lead to debilitating pain and injuries

• WE HAVE HEARD THAT Hyatt has fired workers shortly after they spoke out about abuse and indignities at work, AND

• WE ALL KNOW THAT The Grand Hyatt here in San Antonio brought in a “union buster” to prevent workers from organizing!

And, to add insult to injury, we now know that these workers, many of whom are women, are not being paid the tips that the Hyatt gets paid from group events. Where does that 22% service charge go? The Hyatt won't tell us!

I am calling on our Mayor and City Council members to pass the TIP Integrity Act – MI TIA – so that the Hyatt discloses to its customers and its workers where that tip money goes. This is a matter of justice and fairness, folks. These workers support their families with these tips!

Finally, I implore my LGBT sisters and brothers, both individuals and organizations, not to patronize the Hyatt until they change their ways!