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posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
LGBT & Queer groups to protest San Francisco hotels
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LGBT & Queer groups to protest San Francisco hotels

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & Queer groups to protest San Francisco hotels in support of hotel workers struggling for affordable healthcare. Flamboyant protest in Union Square. 
 
When: Saturday, May 8th 3pm 
Where: Stockton & Geary, Union Square, San Francisco 
 
San Francisco's LGBTQ community will launch a lively protest, featuring festive music, dancing, and picketing, to demand that key San Francisco hotels respect the rights and dignity of their workers. The demonstration, which will take place on May 8th at 3pm and convene at Union Square, follows in the longstanding tradition of LGBTQ solidarity and support for workers' rights in San Francisco. 
 
This protest comes as hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people from around the world prepare to visit San Francisco for pride weekend in late June. "We are sending a message to the hotel corporations that the gay community is an important source of tourists dollars and that we support the worker boycott," said Jane Martin, event organizer. "At the same time, we are sending the message to members of our own LGBTQ community that when you come to San Francisco in June for the Pride celebration, support the workers and honor the hotel boycott." 
 
Over 9,000 San Francisco hotel workers have been working without a contract since mid-August 2009 at several Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, and InterContinental Hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area. After repeated attempts at negotiations, these workers are being denied affordable and high-quality healthcare. This is despite soaring profits at these multinational corporations. The Starwood Corporation made $180 million in profit in the first nine months of 2009. The Hyatt Corporation generated $950 million for its majority owner ⬠the Pritzker family, and Hilton Hotels recently announced that they have $12.6 billion in available capital to invest in new high-asset ventures over the next several years. 
 
Determined to win adequate healthcare for themselves and their families, workers at these hotels have taken the difficult step of calling for a boycott of their own workplaces. Workers have officially called for a boycott of Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, The Palace, Westin St. Francis, Hilton (at O'Farrell), and the W Hotel, with more hotels expected to be added to this this list as summer approaches. 
 
Leo Volobrynskyy an openly gay hotel banquet server said, "We are asking the LGBT community to support us in our struggle to get a fair contract to ensure the future of our families and the rights of LGBT members working in the hotels. In the past we have negotiated language in our contract protecting same sex couples. The union has supported the rights of gay hotel workers and so we hope the LGBT community will stand with us now." 
 
Many LGBT organizations & leaders in San Francisco have already endorsed the workers boycott including: the San Francisco Pride Parade, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, San Francisco Pride at Work, and One Struggle One Fight. 
 
"As part of the city's progressive movement, the LGBTQ community stands with hotel workers in solidarity. As we fight for equality for the queer community, we also believe that workers' rights are human rights," said Josue Arguelles, event organizer and member of Pride at Work. "We are inspired by Harvey Milk's leadership in the Coors Beer boycott, knowing that our struggles for justice are inter-connected. Corporations and hotels that are not worker-friendly cannot claim to be queer-friendly." 
 
The LGBTQ community and Unite Here, the union that represents these hotel workers, have historically had close ties. Unite Here Local 2 has marched in the Pride parades for years, was a firm supporter of Harvey Milk's candidacy, and has negotiated and instituted domestic partnership benefits in its contracts. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Local 2 established a fund to support its members who are HIV positive, helping them with medical treatment and even rent. 
 
This protest in San Francisco follows multiple protests of Hyatt in San Diego, where the LGBT community teamed up with protesting workers after Manchester Grand Hyatt owner, Doug Manchester, donated $125,000 in support of efforts to pass Prop. 8. Hyatt markets itself as gay-friendly but never lifted a finger to chastise Manchester. In Boston last year, when Hyatt fired 100 housekeepers and subcontracted their jobs, the LGBTQ community rallied in support of the workers, with key queer organizations, including the Pride organizing committee, refusing donations from Hyatt until the workers get their jobs back. 
 
Ragina Johnson from the organization One Struggle One Fight sums up the feeling motivating these protests, "We see that our struggles are connected. There is a new generation of queer activists in the streets today. The word of the day is solidarity." 

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LGBT & Queer groups to protest San Francisco hotels
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