AJC Honors Hyatt CEO – Express Your Disapproval!

Some news on the Hyatt boycott front:

Last Thursday, I joined over seventy clergy, hotel workers and solidarity activists to participate in an interfaith service in front of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago (click on the clip above). We sang, we chanted, we exhorted – and Rabbi Peter Knobel of Beth Emet in Evanston declared Hyatt “lo kasher” (“not kosher”) for its unjust labor practices.

Given Hyatt’s dismal labor record you may be more than a little appalled to learn that the American Jewish Committee in Chicago will be honoring Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Corporation, with its “Civic Leadership Award” during  a dinner which will take place tonight at – you guessed it – the Hyatt Regency.

In a recent article in the Boston Jewish Advocate, Chicago AJC Director Daniel Elbaum, commented that Hoplamazian “had a better understanding of Jewish values than anyone I knew.”

Huh?

If you disagree with the way Daniel Elbaum understands Jewish values, please click here to send him a letter that tells him so. We need to let Hyatt management know that this award will not provide a moral fig leaf for their immoral behavior.

Click below to read the entire Boston Advocate article:

Hyatt honor splits Jews
By Leah Burrows
Special to the Advocate

Two Jewish groups are at odds over an award presentation to a hotel chain executive.

On Monday, the Chicago branch of the American Jewish Committee will honor Hyatt Hotels President Mark Hoplamazian with its Civic Leadership award for his work in both the Jewish and larger Chicago communities.

“We are proud to be honoring Mark,” said Daniel Elbaum, director of the Chicago AJC. “He had a better understanding of Jewish values than anyone I knew.”

Hoplamazian and his corporation have been strongly criticized by many in the Jewish community since last year, when nearly 100 housekeepers at
three Boston area Hyatt hotels were replaced with lower-wage contract workers.

Rabbi Barbara Penzner, chair of the rabbinic cabinet of the Jewish Labor Committee’s New England region, said she was “shocked” when she found out Hoplamazian would receive the award. Penzner is part of a group of local rabbis leading a boycott against Boston Hyatts. “It’s an embarrassment and mistake,” said Penzner, the rabbi at Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury.

Penzner said she and other members of the JLC are contacting those attending Monday’s dinner to inform them about issues facing Hyatt workers both in Boston and Chicago.

“This is an issue that is particularly important to the Jewish community,” Penzer said, “because social justice is important to the Jewish community.”

Susan Tynan, an employee at a Chicago Hyatt and member of the negotiating committee, also expressed disappointment about the award. “It just goes to show how oblivious the company is to what’s going on,” Tynan said.

The Chicago Hyatt workers, unlike those in Boston, are unionized, but have been working without a contract for more than a year.

While Elbaum acknowledged that he knew little about the Hyatt labor disputes, he stressed that Hoplamazian is highly respected in Chicago’s Jewish community.

Elbaum said that Hoplamazian is involved with several Jewish organizations in Chicago, including Facing History, the Holocaust education and outreach center.

“As an Armeanian-Amercan, Mark understands and feels issues of the Holocaust deeply,” Elbaum said.

Although some involved in the Hyatt boycott here in Boston have expressed their disappointment with the Chicago AJC, Elbaum said the feedback he had heard in Chicago has been “overwhelmingly positive.”


2 Comments on “AJC Honors Hyatt CEO – Express Your Disapproval!”

  1. Rabbi Barbara Penzner says:

    Brant,

    I applaud your continued efforts on behalf of the Hyatt workers. It was inspiring to see the work we are doing amplified at last week’s protest. Thank you for your leadership.

  2. […] Rabbi Brant Rossen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston was most critical of Jewish leaders who seemed to side with the Hyatt chain by holding their dinner at the Hyatt and honoring Hyatt’s CEO. […]


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