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Gay journalists to face union picket line

NLGJA declines to move annual convention

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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.

Tune said the group knows of about 10 people who were scheduled to attend or speak at the convention and cancelled their attendance due to the union boycott.

“It’s been very positive,” he said. “I think most folks have understood it’s not an issue against NLGJA. This is something, of course, going on with the Hyatt. We happened to be having our convention here.”

NLGJA describes itself as the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists and an advocate for fair and accurate reporting on LGBT issues in the U.S. and abroad. Members of the organization include editors and reporters from some of the nation’s largest and most prominent news organizations, including the New York Times and broadcast news outlets as well as LGBT news organizations.

Although the hotel union has not called a strike against the San Francisco Hyatt, more than a month ago it scheduled a national, one-day protest against Hyatt hotels, including the San Francisco Hyatt, for Sept. 2. At the San Francisco Hyatt, union members and supporters were scheduled to form a picket line for the Sept. 2 action in support of the workers’ efforts to secure a union contract.

The picketing was set to take place on the opening day of the NLGJA convention, when the group was to hold its 7th Annual LGBT Media Summit for the gay press.

Gabriel Haaland, an official with the San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work, said representatives of the LGBT community were expected to participate in the picket and would urge people not to cross the picket line.

Haaland noted that a large number of LGBT groups and political leaders in San Francisco are supporting union boycotts of the Hyatt and other local hotels. Among them are gay city supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Duffy and gay California State Senator Mark Leno. The city’s two leading LGBT political groups, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, are also supporting the boycott, according to literature released by the union.

According to Haaland, other organizations have cancelled contracts for conventions and meetings with San Francisco hotels targeted for union boycotts and have not been charged penalty fees such as the one NLGJA says it would face.

“I’ve seen groups break contracts with these hotels over boycotts before and they have never been charged a dime,” Haaland said. “More than one group has gone to the discomfort of moving their meetings because some of these folks are some of the lowest wage workers and, honestly, many of them are gay.”

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.”

Although NLGA’s Steinberg and other members of the group’s board said they could not move the convention to another hotel, they urged attendees to consider reporting on the union’s grievances in their role as journalists.

“We can invite you to bring your notebooks, your recorders and your cameras to San Francisco and cover their action, along with the hotel’s response,” Steinberg said in a message posted on the NLGJA website.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. lauren

    September 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    It’s quite unfortunate that the NLGJA is trying to encourage the journalists to make a “story” out of this. What a way to exploit the workers struggle. Especially when UniteHERE! has taken such a strong stance in supporting the LGBTQ community by including transgender protection clauses, domestic partnership benefits, and a HIV/AIDS fund for poz workers to help pay for any extra medical needs. This is also after they have donated a lot of money to the No on 8 campaign, and educated their workers to vote No as well.

    If the LGBTQ community continues to fail at showing solidarity with other struggles- we’re going to see the road to equality take a lot longer.

  2. Suzan

    September 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I was raised in a union family. I do not cross picket lines. I’m tired with the lack of class consciousness on the part of so many professional gay and lesbian organizations who are always looking for support on the part of progressive people and who are quick to condemn the smallest slight on the part of the Democratic Party.

    Yet turn around and strike break by crossing union picket lines thereby showing their utter contempt towards their fellow workers.

    Stupid, stupid move.

  3. Lindoro

    September 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    This is ridiculous. As a former Unite Here staffer and a gay man, I find this offensive beyond comprehension.

  4. Alexa

    September 3, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I say bust the picket line. Unions do nothing for gays and coalition politics simply complicate our mission. I am a conservative anti union gay and applaud this group for standing up to labor bully tactics. Remember, they are all making a lot more money than we are, have better job security and insane pension and health benefits. We should be protesting them for stealing our tax money to live like kings while we in the private sector suffer.

    • Lindoro

      September 4, 2010 at 2:41 am

      That;s your problem there, you are like a black member of the KKK; you have gone to bed with the one group that, if left to their own devices would legislate you out of existence while at the same time taking your vote and your money happily.

    • David in Atlanta

      September 8, 2010 at 6:43 am

      Hotel housekeepers make more money than professional journalists?
      I’d love to live in your world.

      • Hotel Gay

        September 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

        Banquet Employees, you know the ones, who serve you food at Human Rights Campaign Dinners, make upwards of 100K a year in wages and gratuities in big cities like DC, New York, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco while working an average of 25 hours a week. I am sure a lot of folks would love that pay and schedule.

  5. Working Class Hero

    September 3, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Alexa,

    You must have had too much Kool-Aid at the Beck/Palin rally. Organized labor has been a true ally of the gay community in our fight for equality. NLGJA should have moved the conference to show support for these workers in their struggle for economic justice.

  6. Rick Rosendall

    September 3, 2010 at 8:56 am

    It is quite outrageous that the unions are effectively demanding that NLGJA bankrupt itself. This is their idea of winning friends and influencing people? There also wasn’t time to change the venue. The unions need to learn that respect is a two-way street, and that dealing with reality is a requirement, and not a nice-to-have. If they can’t respect the situation NLGJA is in, and want to hide behind the phony claim that they could have gotten the hotel to set aside the penalties and magically found a last-minute alternative, then they are not being honest. To hell with them.

    • Walter Reuther

      September 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      You are an idiot who doesn’t know the first thing about what it is like to work for a living. The people involved in this job action against Hyatt are low-paid, unskilled workers (chambermaids, cooks, bellhops, etc.) who are trying to scrape by during tremendously difficult times. They are asking for better working conditions and better pay. When idiots like you and the members of NGLJA cross their picket line, you are lending a helping hand to Hyatt in their attempt to break the union. Walk a mile in the workers’ shoes, Mr. Rosendall, and then let’s hear how you feel about unions.

      • Rick Rosendall

        September 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

        Mr. Reuther, try re-reading what I actually wrote. NLGJA could not have changed venues at such a late date without bankrupting themselves. You are lying if you say that is a reasonable thing for the unions to expect. If you refuse to deal with reality even minimally, then you are saying in effect that you’d rather lose to preserve your griping rights.

        I’m not sure why disagreeing with you is a sign that I don’t work for a living. As a matter of fact, I am a union member myself–AFGE Local 12. But I did not turn my brain in when I signed up. If the plight of the workers is so dire, then the unions should be more constructive than to demand that NLGJA bankrupt itself to show its support.

      • Rick Rosendall

        September 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

        BTW, I am signing my actual name, as opposed to someone who hides behind the name of a dead labor leader.

        • Hotel Gay

          September 16, 2010 at 8:09 am

          I find it ironic that the Union that is suppose to represent the interests of the workers is actively working to force their membership onto unemployment lines with their boycott. Had NLGJA cancelled not only would the Hotel pockets $150,000 in cancellation fees and would have saved over $10,000 in labor costs since the Room Attendants, Bell Attendants, Cooks and Banquet Personnel would have been on LAY OFF instead of working. For every Hotel worker who has a full schedule, thank your employer. For every hotel worker on unemployment and barely making ends meet, thank your Union and their boycott and fool hardy actions like this.

          Additionally, get the terms right, Chambermaids, Bell Hops are derogitory terms. Room Attendant and Bell Person is correct.

      • Hotel Gay

        September 16, 2010 at 8:13 am

        Walter,

        For someone who is insterested in class equality, sexist and derogatory terms such as “Chambermaid” and “Bell Hop” show how behind the times you are.

        Not even a “mean greedy” Hotel Owner uses such terms.

  7. Liberation for all, not Assimilation for Some.

    September 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Oh I would never walk across a picket line
    Solidarity forever don’t mean just sometimes
    So long live the union!
    Cross my heart and hope to die
    If I should ever walk across a picket line

    Well my mother never told me what was right or what was wrong
    She never taught me to play guitar, never taught me to write songs
    But one thing that she taught me I’ll remember for all time
    And that’s that you should never walk across a picket line

    Oh I would never walk across a picket line
    Solidarity forever don’t mean just sometimes
    So long live the union!
    Cross my heart and hope to die
    If I should ever walk across a picket line

    She took me to a factory where the workers were on strike
    The company had called in scabs to break the union’s might
    My mum went to the front and addressed those greedy swine
    Sayin’ “I dare any of you men to walk across this picket line!”

    Oh I would never walk across a picket line
    Solidarity forever don’t mean just sometimes
    So long live the union!
    Cross my heart and hope to die
    If I should ever walk across a picket line

    Well one of them came forward and he had something to say:
    “No woman will stand between me and one day’s pay!
    I don’t care ’bout the others I am taking what is mine”
    And with that he tried to walk across our picket line

    Oh I would never walk across a picket line
    Solidarity forever don’t mean just sometimes
    So long live the union!
    Cross my heart and hope to die
    If I should ever walk across a picket line

    Mom called him a dirty scab, gave him two pieces of her mind
    She picked up and she threw every rock that she could find
    And when he called the cops on her she kicked his behind
    Sayin’ “that’s what you get when you walk across a union’s picket line!”

    Oh I would never walk across a picket line
    Solidarity forever don’t mean just sometimes
    So long live the union!
    Cross my heart and hope to die
    If I should ever walk across a picket line

    Well to this day I can remember what my momma used to say:
    “We’re fighting for a better world, not just for better pay
    And if we stick together then we’ll win this fight in time
    So long as we don’t walk across each other’s picket lines”

  8. Andrea B.

    September 4, 2010 at 5:32 am

    How to ensure that when the right wing get there assault on gay rights underway, that the gays have no friends.

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National

Louisiana lawmakers fail to overturn Edwards veto of Trans sports bill

Edwards further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.”

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Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards (Photo Credit: Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana lawmakers failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto last month of a bill that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

The Republican majority state House chamber failed to override the Governor’s veto after voting 68-30 to override it, according to the state legislature’s website.

The vote narrowly missed the 70-vote threshold needed in the lower chamber to override the veto.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate must vote to override a governor’s veto, according to the local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

The Governor reacted to the news that his veto withstood Republican efforts to overturn it in a press conference Wednesday.

Edwards noted that in his view he had “rejected a play” that had no place in Louisiana. 

“I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana. That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here,” Edwards said.

He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.” 

“We have to be better than that,” Edwards said. “We have to be better than that.” 

 

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Federal court blocks West Virginia Law banning Trans youth sports

“It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

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Becky Pepper-Jackson (Photo credit: ACLU/Raymond Thompson)


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia ruled Wednesday that 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson must be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams at her school, blocking West Virginia from enforcing a law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. 

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP.

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” said Becky Pepper-Jackson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 3293 into law at the end of April. It was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020, and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams. Legal challenges are underway against similar laws passed in other states.

The Supreme Court recently refused to disturb Gavin Grimm’s victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he prevailed in challenging his school’s anti-transgender discrimination against him. This decision — which is binding precedent in West Virginia federal court — said that federal law protects transgender students from discrimination in schools.

“This is great news for Becky, and while our work is not done yet, today’s ruling jibes with similar rulings in other courts across the country,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

“Becky — like all students — should have the opportunity to try out for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this also sends a message to other states to stop demonizing trans kids to score political points and to let these kids live their lives in peace.” 

“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Becky, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts clearly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally. Discrimination has no place in schools or anywhere else,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

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Conservative groups attack proposed Alabama capital city’s LGBTQ law

Allege law requires Christians to violate their religious beliefs

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Alabama State Capitol, HIV, gay news, Washington Blade
Alabama State Capitol (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama capital’s City Council is being urged to reject a proposed ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under the law.  Matthew Clark, the Executive Director of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty sent a letter on behalf of his group and six allied organizations asking the Council to abandon a vote implementing the ordnance.

According to the letter, the groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances. Prominent among the other signatures is Mathew D. Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The SPLC, which has its headquarters in Montgomery, writes; “The Liberty Counsel has also been active in the battle against same-sex marriage and hate crimes legislation, which it claimed in a 2007 news release to be “’thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and will “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.” In that same release, the Liberty Counsel falsely claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., had nothing to do with homosexuality, but instead was “a bungled robbery.”

In the letter Clark noted; ““As we read the ordinance, churches could be fined if they refuse to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and they might be fined if they refused to let same-sex couples use their facilities for weddings,” Clark said. “They could also be fined if they declined to hire non-ministerial personnel, such as facility managers or secretaries, whose sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the tenants of the church’s faith.”

“Christian schools, small business owners, and homeowners are also in the crosshairs. Schools could face liability if they decline to let transgender students use the locker rooms of their choice,” Clark said. “Small business owners like Jack Phillips [referring to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission] could face liability. And homeowners who list their homes on Airbnb could be fined if they declined to let a same-sex couple engage in sexual activities in their home that violate the tenants of their faith.”

Clark then warned the City Council that if it passes the ordinance, litigation could result and the City would likely lose.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month that City Mayor Steven Reed said a council vote in favor of the LGTBQ nondiscrimination ordinance that’s now being drafted in Montgomery would send a message. 

“There are signals that communities can send, and this is an important signal not only to those residents that live here right now but people all over the country that have maybe one idea of Alabama and Montgomery, and we want to show them that there’s a different reality here,” he said. 

Reed and his team have been working with the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups to draft an ordinance that would expand protections for LGBTQ residents in the state’s capital city. The proposed measure, which would specifically target discrimination in government, employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity the Advertiser reported.

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