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LETTERS: Church and state; Hyatt
Expanded coverage from the health care law has continued to grow

This article shared 3880 times since Wed Dec 21, 2011
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Dear Gov. Pat Quinn:

I am writing this letter to you in response to the Nov. 16 letter sent to you and co-signed by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, and the other 11 bishops who make up the Illinois Catholic Conference.

Thank you for not only your support, but also your leadership in passing the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. It was the right and fair thing to do.

Like you, I am a practicing Roman Catholic and understand that Catholic tradition has always taught us to face the goal of the Gospels while, at the same time, being grounded in the reality of complex situations that we live in. The primacy of conscience applies to both of us and the bishops. As the governor of Illinois and a person of faith, your internal forum must also be valued and respected. In my opinion, it is disrespectful of your personhood and your office for any to judge you in the media without first meeting with you. This is just good pastoral practice.

The issues of abortion and civil unions are matters of law in our state, and it's my hope that the bishops are not asking you to violate those based on their understanding of what Vatican II says. Vatican II also has great deal to say about the "Sense of the Faithful" and that is where you and I fit in. On the other hand, it has absolutely nothing to say about civil unions—contrary to what the bishops imply in their letter.

Concerning the cessation of adoptions and foster-care services through Catholic Charities: Sadly, children were not a first priority on the part of Catholic Charities and the Illinois Catholic Conference. Other considerations took precedence.

For the bishops to imply that the state is murdering children because of your pro-life and pro-choice positions is just as reckless as saying all the bishops were responsible for the clergy sexual-abuse scandal. Such generalizations might play well with certain radicalized elements among the bishops' base, but they are not a fair and just assessment of your position.

Again, thank you for all the good you do for our state.

I wish both you and your family a wonderful and safe Christmas season.


Joe Murray

Executive Director

Rainbow Sash Movement



To the editor:

I read with interest the letter published in the Dec. 7 issue from Chuck Renslow regarding the Hyatt hotel boycott. Having attended International Mr. Leather ( IML ) events, and as a longtime member of the leather community, I take issue with him on most of the points he raises.

It is apparent Mr. Renslow does not really know the issues. He says IML attendees show their appreciation to the staff they encounter with generosity in their gratuities. However, the major issue in this contract dispute is not wages, but rather working conditions and job security for housekeepers and others. Does the guest's generosity extend to tips left for the housekeepers in rooms often left in disarray and that are messes to clean up? Does he have to clean bathroom floors and toilets by hand, as they do? That is only the beginning.

In his statement that the IML event provides considerable tourist revenue to the city, he appears to suggest the city needs IML. Considering his close ties to the Democratic Party, why not engage the city to help keep the convention in Chicago on an otherwise slow weekend?

To state that "Hyatt will match the identical contract package of other Chicago hotels" is simply wrong, and only shows once again that Mr. Renslow, does not know the issues. Hyatt is refusing to guarantee job security and, in fact, wants to replace union employees with low-wage contract labor without benefits.

Hyatt offers health insurance to same-sex partners, as well as other workers. What good is that commitment when it has told the union it will terminate the insurance on Feb. 29, 2012, if the union continues to urge people to boycott Hyatt hotels? The effectiveness of this boycott is the real reason Hyatt has threatened union workers, which could have grave consequences to families, and particularly, HIV infected LGBT employees.

The letter states that this is "not an IML fight." Of course it is, because union members have, since the days of Harvey Milk, been strongly supportive of our LGBT struggle! Union support has not only affected businesses with union employees, but has also caused many large non-union companies to provide benefits and support to its LGBT employees.

Mr. Renslow has a contract through 2012. What is to prevent him from stating publicly NOW that his organization will not do business with the Hyatt hotel chain in the future unless there is a fair contract settlement? Mr. Renslow is, in effect, saying a contract is a contract and should be honored. He fails to mention that these workers have had no contract for more than two years, and then boldly compares his business deal to a union contract that doesn't even exist.

Finally, he mentions a possible loss of $900,000 in IML revenue if he were to cancel the contract. While IML may have some charitable aspects, it is still one of the few leather contests that is a for-profit enterprise. Most are organized as charitable events.

No matter how the letter writer tries to spin the issue, the fact remains that a major institution in the LGBT community is holding its convention at a union-busting hotel when the union is asking all fair-minded people to boycott Hyatt's Chicago hotels. You are right, Mr. Renslow: The union does want a good and fair agreement. Will you help the union get one?

Vince Butz



Dear Editor:

As two gay men who have each been employed by Hyatt for more than 20

years, and as co-chairs of HyPride ( Hyatt's LGBT employee network group ) , we feel compelled to respond to the letter from the Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) regarding a Hyatt labor dispute and its view of the plight of LGBT workers.

While the GLN has chosen to join a local labor dispute, their claims that Hyatt harbors a lack of respect or a commitment to equal opportunity for the LGBT community are strictly false.

Hyatt has been at the forefront of fostering a culture and environment of equality and opportunity. Sexual orientation has never been a hindrance in our advancement; it has neither helped nor hurt our chances of upward mobility. Moreover, Hyatt has led the way in the hotel industry when it comes to health insurance and benefits, particularly domestic partner benefits. In fact, just last week, for the eighth year in a row, Hyatt was named one of the "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality," having earned a 100-percent rating on an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Among the aspects that were measured were equal opportunity in hiring; equal compensation through medical and family benefits; and promoting inclusive and equal workplaces for LGBT employees. This award, along with many other independent recognitions, ( ) , underscores our own positive professional experience.

While this union issue is ongoing, all of our associates are caring for our guests and providing exceptional service. We sincerely hope this issue is resolved soon, for the sake of everyone on both sides. Hyatt properties represent thousands of workers in the Chicago area, and help to bring in millions in revenue. We urge all involved to focus on the real issues at stake here, without dividing a workforce that on the issue of LGBT stands quite united.


Walter Brindell

and John Prusnick

HyPride co-chairs


Hyatt Hotels has issued its own statement regarding coverage of its employees. It reads as follows:

"Though UniteHere [ which represents workers throughout the United States and Canada who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries ] continues to indulge in inflammatory rhetoric, Hyatt Hotels Corp. continues to provide our associates at four Chicago-area hotels with health-care coverage. Even though there has not been a union contract in place for two years, Hyatt has paid 100 percent of health-care premiums during this time. Local 1 leadership of UniteHere is the only obstacle standing in the way for our associates to receive wage and benefit increases.

"It is well past the time for the leadership of UniteHere to come to the table and let its members vote on a new contract. Hyatt's offer includes a 12 percent increase in wages over the next four years; a 26-percent increase in healthcare, pension and legal contributions over the next four years; and guaranteed, Hyatt-paid healthcare.

"UniteHere has agreed to the same wage and benefits package with Hilton and Starwood, but refuses to finish negotiations with Hyatt in Chicago. Hyatt urges UniteHere leadership to do what is right for our Chicago associates and allow their members to vote on the wage and benefits increases they deserve."

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