Gay-Labor Coalition Boycotts Manchester Hyatt

by Joseph Pena on December 28, 2008

First published on July 14, 2008.

(Ed. Note: UNITE HERE has successfully used the boycott to organize workers and secure better contracts. As described below in the June 10 San Diego’s Gay and Lesbian Times, the union is now boycotting a hotel owned by a major funder of Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative on California’s November ballot. UNITE HERE is one of many unions actively working to defeat the measure.)

A coalition of labor leaders and supporters of same-sex marriage announced a full-scale boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and other Manchester-owned properties. Douglas Manchester, a San Diego businessman, donated $125,000 to, the organization behind Proposition 8, the November ballot initiative that would limit marriage to between one man and one woman. The coalition – which includes labor union UNITE Here Local 30, a new nonprofit organization called Californians Against Hate, and is supported by City Council candidate Todd Gloria, San Diego Pride at Work, San Diego LGBT Pride and a number of community leaders – aims to inform Californians about Manchester’s contributions.

“We are going to run a strong, multifaceted boycott, and the union is going to marshal all of its resources,” said UNITE Here Local 30’s political director, Dan Rottenstreich. “We know how to make this effective and we are going to do everything we can to educate the workers of the hotel, to educate San Diegans and to educate the customers of the hotel about Doug Manchester’s discrimination, and discrimination at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.”

The labor union is also targeting what it says is discrimination against women and employees at the Manchester-owned Hyatt in Downtown San Diego. According to the union, hotel housekeepers are forced to clean more rooms than housekeepers at other hotels, and employees have no job security if the hotel is sold.

The organization Californians Against Hate, which supports UNITE Here Local 30’s efforts, is focused solely on disseminating information about the marriage initiative’s donors. The organization launched three Web sites this week,, and, to promote a July 18 demonstration at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Fred Karger, the spokesperson for Californians Against Hate who joined UNITE Here Local 30 today for a press conference, plans to use social networking sites like Facebook to get the word out.

Karger’s group plans to list on its Web site business owners and individuals who donate more than $5,000 to

“Our goal is to make sure that every person in the nation is aware of the financial support being given to [Proposition 8],” Karger said. “We will list these donors on our Web site and act as a truth squad, and go all over the country through new media to bring attention to these businesses and these people. The motivation, I think, of so many of these donors is fear and hate, and I definitely don’t think they should be allowed to contribute with impunity. I think the reaction of the public should be to not support their businesses.”

Until now, community leaders have avoided launching a formal boycott against Manchester’s properties. Rather, they have focused on defeating Proposition 8. Some have said a boycott of Manchester’s properties would utilize volunteer and financial resources needed to win in November. Some say, however, educating travelers about the boycott is a small part of the larger campaign.

“Wealthy donors like Doug Manchester should be on notice that their support for Proposition 8 will not be tolerated by our community,” said Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES project and creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. “Our community’s top priority is educating all Californians about the importance of defeating Prop 8 and preserving the freedom to marry in California. At the same time, we will also ensure that discriminators like Doug Manchester do not profit off the hard-earned dollars of our community.”

UNITE Here Local 30 and Californians Against Hate will not ask for financial contributions or volunteers to launch the boycott, Rottenstreich and Karger said. Karger has funded his effort and is working with a small team of people to identify the initiative’s largest donors.

“In San Diego, the union is taking the lead on marshaling the resources needed to make the boycott effective, and the union is not going to be requesting any donations or any volunteers for the effort,” Rottenstreich said. “We know, at this time, the fight to defeat Proposition 8 is the top priority for the gay community, so the union will look to its members to lead this effort.”

In April, a spokesperson for the Manchester Grand Hyatt said the property is gay-friendly, despite Manchester’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Hyatt corporation has a 100 percent rating by HRC (Human Rights Campaign) for the diversity training we do at our properties,” said Kelly Commerford, director of marketing at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. “We’re very gay friendly, gay supportive … We do not discriminate as a company and we have open arms for the LGBT market. That being said, this hotel is owned by an independent owner and that independent owner has certain political and religious beliefs. [Manchester] did make a contribution to the marriage coalition defending marriage between a man and a woman. Does he discriminate against LGBT individuals? Absolutely not. He’s very open to having their business at his hotel.”

Reporter Margie M. Palmer contributed to this report.

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