Don’t get caught in a bad hotel

May 21, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO--Union and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists turned out for a flash-mob action--"Don't Get Caught in a Bad Hotel"--urging people to support the a boycott of several large San Francisco hotels called by UNITE HERE Local 2.

The video of the May 8 action has more than 140,000 hits on YouTube so far.

While about 75 people picketed outside, some 25 activists took part in the action inside the Westin St. Francis Hotel, where they sang a reworked, pro-union version of Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance."

Pride at Work San Francisco, One Struggle, One Fight, the Brass Liberation Orchestra and other LGBT activists and allies came together to draw attention to the struggle of more than 9,000 Local 2 workers who have been working without a contract since August 2009.

Management at the hotels, which include several Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental hotels, want workers to pay hundreds of dollars in health care costs because they claim they're being hit by the economic recession.

However, according to Pride at Work:

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.

The hotel chains are trying to use the economic crisis as a way to force workers into paying more costs--which they can't afford since they live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.

The flash mob and picket called attention promoted a boycott called by the workers of these hotels all-year round, but especially during San Francisco's LGBT Pride weekend on June 26-27.

At the beginning of the action, a lesbian couple went to check into the Westin, but upon finding out that the hotel was under boycott, one of them yelled out that they couldn't check into the hotel because it was a "bad, bad hotel."

The flash-mob action went on for several minutes as activists sang and passed out flyers to people, explaining the background of the boycott. Then, activists took part in a brief speak-out before dancing their way out of the hotel.

We repeated the flash mob in Union Square, a popular tourist plaza, before walking into the Grand Hyatt, another boycotted hotel. After the flash mob at the Grand Hyatt, protesters picketed in front of the hotel before concluding and letting the hotels know that we'll continue to the fight back for fair workers' rights in San Francisco.

Local 2 workers ask that visitors, when they come to San Francisco, don't stay at or do any business with the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, The Palace, Westin St. Francis, Hilton (at O'Farrell) and the W Hotel. More hotels are expected to be added to the boycott list this summer.

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