Monday, August 30, 2010

Supporting the Hyatt Workers' Call for a Boycott

Following on the Central Conference of American Rabbis' statement of support for the Hyatt workers, Reform Cantors of Chicago is explicitly supporting the Hyatt workers's call for a boycott. I think we are the first Jewish clergy group in Chicago to issue such a statement.

Reform Cantors of Chicago Support Hyatt Workers’ Boycott
Monday, August 30, 2010

One of Judaism's great legacies to mankind is the myriad prophetic and biblical exhortations in the name of social justice, teaching the moral and ethical responsibility of caring for the stranger with the same dignity and respect that we would give ourselves, our families and our neighbors. In every generation our prayer-book has given a contemporary voice to our yearning to "repair the world." This moral imperative calls to us with heightened urgency during the High Holy Day season when we confess our sins, including the offense of denying others what is their due.

Hyatt hotel workers in Chicago are being told they will lose their health benefits and their ability to provide for their families.

The members of Reform Cantors of Chicago, as invested clergy and prayer-leaders of many congregations throughout the Chicagoland area, join in speaking out in support of the Hyatt Hotel workers. As Cantors we cannot pray in the synagogue without speaking publicly in support of justice for the Hyatt workers.

The hard-working laborers who make our city’s hotels run are entitled to provide for their families. Maimonides rules (Ownership, Laws of Hiring and Safekeeping, 13:10) that the employer may not deny the worker her fair earnings. The Hyatt management’s intention to impose the crippling cost of healthcare benefits on the workers is unfair and cruel.

Furthermore, the management of the Hyatt Regency is threatening to take
away the security of full-time employment from some of its workers by
cutting staff and reducing hours. For these low-income workers, such a change would have catastrophic consequences on their families.

Our Jewish tradition teaches us to care for those who are
not members of the community but are in need of our protection. Leviticus 19:34 teaches “The stranger in your midst shall be to you as a full member of the community. You shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Hospitality workers feel the necessity of calling for a boycott of
the hotels where they work in order to preserve decent pay and benefits. We are with them. We declare our support for, and join their
boycott of, the Park Hyatt, the Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Hyatt
Regency O'Hare.

We raise our voices in prayer and protest calling for a fair resolution.

1 comment:

  1. Gandhi said that “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”
    I believe that what he meant was, that a person committed to a specific conviction about what is right and what is wrong - assuming that a religious person would be such a person - can hardly sit idly by and watch wrongdoing, all the more so if this person is a religious leader. I applaud the Cantors of Chicago for stepping forward and taking a stand on this issue.
    Here, finally, religion represents real values rather than empty parroting, tribalism or the perpetuation of privilege.