January 16, 2013 by Roseanne
Yesterday, IAYB posted with an exclusive interview with a union organizer and Hyatt hotel worker, detailing the lack of response from Yoga Journal with regards to an international boycott of Hyatt-owned properties. The post has been viewed and shared thousands of times, opening up big questions about the magazine’s ethics and their decision to hold their January 17 – 21 Yoga Journal San Francisco conference at a venue embroiled in a labour dispute.
The post elicited an unofficial response from Yoga Journal’s Communications Director, Dayna Macy, in the comments section:
Yoga Journal will hold its annual San Francisco Conference January 17-21, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. There is an ongoing labor management dispute between the Hyatt Corporation and UniteHere. The hotel and its workers have reached agreements on wages and benefits but other issues including union membership voting rules across the Hyatt hotel chain remain unresolved.
The workers at the Hyatt are not on strike, but UniteHere has reached out to many organizations holding events at the hotel and urged them to change their plans.
Yoga Journal has not ignored this issue. We have thought carefully about it and have decided to honor our longstanding contract and the commitments we’ve made to our conference presenters and attendees, as well as the workers at this specific hotel who depend on business for their livelihood.
Yoga Journal fully supports the negotiations between the Hyatt and its unions and hopes that the remaining issues are resolved fairly and quickly.
For more information:
The Hyatt Corporation Website: hyattworkplace.com
The UniteHere website: unitehere11.org and hotelworkersrising.com
It’s something, but not much. Hopefully, Looking the magazine will issue an official statement and offer some insight into why they continue their relationship with Hyatt despite being aware of this boycott (which has the support of the NFL Players Association, the National Organization of Women (NOW), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Netroots Nation, Interfaith Worker Justice, and many other business and political leaders).
Thank you to those of you who have reached out to me about my being at the SF YJ Conference this weekend even though there is a boycott of the Hyatt and a labor dispute. Here is where I stand….I plan to teach at the conference, but I will be staying at a different hotel. In the future there will be a clause added to all my conference contracts that acknowledges labor disputes and gives me an out without being in breach. With this said, if there is an organized union picket line out front I will not cross it. I have been in communication with YJ about this and they have been supportive of my position.
Let’s see who else steps up and acknowledges the dispute. Meanwhile, a group of San Francisco yoga practitioners have committed to showing up in solidarity with the Hyatt workers on Jan 17 (Facebook event here).
This is not a black and white issue and there are ways that Yoga Journal could have handled the situation with more finesse. Take, for example, what the Ignation Solidarity Network did before their November 16 – 18, 2012 “Teach-In for Justice” at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Executive Director Christopher Kerr published a clear and unapologetic letter to the community, stating the organization’s stance:
While we respect the strategy of the labor organizations to utilize a boycott to ellicit change, it is not possible for ISN to join the boycott as it relates to the 2012 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
At this point in the IFTJ planning, it is not feasible to move a program of this size to another venue. ISN has made logistical and resource commitments that, if altered, would prevent many of our member institutions from participating in the 2012 IFTJ, and would jeopardize the financial solvency of the ISN. In addition, remaining at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City will afford the Ignatian family the opportunity to fully engage its members in a real-world labor issue in the context of Catholic Social Teaching and the Ignatian education pedagogical model through direct dialogue with Hyatt corporation, hotel management, and employees.
The ISN took advantage of the situation to open dialogue and inform members of the complexities of the boycott, as well as labour issues and workers’ rights. As a network of Jesuit leaders and advocates for justice, with a mission to educate members on social justice issues, the ISN has a different mandate and agenda than Yoga Journal (whose mission is to “give readers insightful articles on yoga, filled with the most current scientific information available, while honoring the 5,000-year-old tradition on which it is based”).
ISN’s response is a reminder that it’s possible to react to these messy, complex situations with transparency, honesty and grace. Will Yoga Journal step up?