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Jewish Journal

Progressive Jews support improved contracts for Hyatt employees

by Ryan Torok

April 26, 2011 | 5:16 pm

Progressive leaders from the local Jewish community showed support for employees of the Hyatt hotel chain on April 21.

A delegation of Jewish community leaders convened at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza and met with hotel staff persons. The delegation called on the hotel to provide better wages for the hotel’s nonmanagement employees, an end to union busting and a safer work environment for its employees.

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of the economic justice advocacy group CLUE-LA, led the group, which brought symbols of Passover — matzah, bitter herbs and cups of wine — to the meeting to illustrate their message.

“Symbols of enslavement and suffering, and symbols of freedom and liberation,” Klein explained.

Tracey Pool, senior executive assistant manager at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, met with the delegation on behalf of the hotel.

“Please understand that we would love to settle the issues we have had, and we would love to have a fair contract in place, that this is not an anti-union hotel,” Pool said.

Klein asked Pool which “she’d rather consume,” wine or the bitter herbs. When Pool said she preferred the wine, Klein handed her a glass, and they both drank.

CLUE-LA, an interfaith social justice organization, in partnership with Unite Here Local 11, the union that represents the workers at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, called for the meeting, which took place in the reception area outside the office of Hyatt Regency Century Plaza general manager David Horowitz.

The delegation in support of the workers included the Progressive Jewish Alliance, the Jewish Labor Committee, several Los Angeles rabbis and Christian leaders.

L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz attended the meeting, and he spoke of a bright future for hotel employees. “This change has to happen. It is going to happen,” Koretz said to Pool. “It’s just a question of when.”

The meeting showed the Jewish community’s ongoing commitment to Hyatt employees. Last July, CLUE-LA participated in a large protest on Sunset Boulevard on behalf of Hyatt workers. That day’s events included a sit-in that led to 63 arrests for civil disobedience.

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