Alex Blaze

Manchester Grand Hyatt protest still going strong

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 11, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: doug manchester, Hyatt Hotels, LGBT, Manchester, marriage, Prop. 8, union

These folks know how to boycott:

Waving signs reading: "We All Deserve the Freedom to Marry," more than 200 gay-rights activists and union members representing hotel employees rallied outside the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Saturday in the latest protest over the owner's support for a ban on gay marriage.

The protesters banged on drums and waved rainbow flags while chanting "Boycott the Hyatt -- Check! Out! Now!"

The rally targeted the American Historical Association, which decided to hold its annual conference this week at the Grand Hyatt despite an ongoing boycott.

It's going on two years now since Fred Karger first called for a boycott of the San Diego-area hotel chain and united with labor to keep it going. They rejected an offer to buy out the gay side of the protest (mostly with hotel credit) a while ago and are still waiting for a deal that will rectify both what the chain's owner, Doug Manchester, did when he donated $125,000 to support Prop 8 and allow the hotel chain's workers to unionize.

I'm surprised that they're still going, and good on the organizers for that. It would have been easy to give up on this one, but someone needs to be making an example of a local business for the next time a ballot initiative happens. Plus it does no one any good if they cave before the issue is resolved.

Also, the fact that the Manchester Grand Hyatt is releasing idiotic anti-union propaganda makes them much less sympathetic:

Commerford contended that the unions just want money, estimating that the hotel-workers union Unite Here would get $2.2 million a year in dues if the hotel were organized. He said the workers don't want a union and noted that the housekeepers have a 4.5 percent turnover rate, much lower than the industry average.

$2.2 million a year? For unionizing 900 employees? That's $2444 a year per worker in union fees, while the SEIU charges $331 a year for a full time worker (couldn't find Unite Here's fees schedule). Unfortunately, the San Diego Union Tribune makes no attempt to find out whether that fact is true or not, and just puts it right into their article as "the other side's opinion."

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DaveinNorthridge | January 11, 2010 4:35 PM

Okay. It was a nice, noisy protest, it got a couple of sessions on LGBT history moved out of the Manchester Hyatt, and I'm sure everybody involved felt good about it. (Yes, I was there attending the AHA conference.)

I know the arrangements were made for this in 2003, well before there was even Prop 8, and I don't know what in the contract made it impossible to change fourteen months out. The AHA has had this problem before (google AHA and Adam's Mark St. Louis) so this wasn't a big surprise -- I thought about staying at the Marriott instead, but if the Marriotts tithe, what's the difference?

What I gathered about the protest from my colleagues who attended was that it was not aimed at the Manchester Grand, but at the AHA, and the issue involved wasn't the Manchester contribution to Yes on 8 but the fact that the Manchester Hyatt is non-union. We were invited to sign a petition to get the AHA to use a travel consultant who takes issues like unionization into consideration.

By the way, the threaded conference on same-sex marriage within the AHA program was terrific.

I think the more important question is: "Is the boycott making a difference?" The hotel seems to be humming along just fine - even with the boycott.