LA Weekly: L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Uncomfortably Finds Itself in the Middle of a Knock-Down Union Blow OutShareThis
Originally Published in LA Weekly, Thursday, Nov. 11 2010
By Patrick Range McDonald
The Los Angles Gay & Lesbian Center, which bills itself as the "world's largest LGBT organization," probably hoped its battle with hotel workers union Unite Here Local 11 would somehow fade away before its big gala dinner this Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.
If anything, the controversy over crossing a picket line at the hotel is getting more heated and contentious, with both sides trying to cast the other as hard-headed, unscrupulous villains. Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb writes about the brouhaha in a detailed report.
In a nutshell, United Here Local 11 president Tom Walsh wants L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean to honor a picket line at the Century Plaza Hotel -- workers there are still fighting for a contract. Jean says the union gave her people late notice, and she can't easily move to another venue.
The dispute has become a messy affair that's getting into race, economic class, and sexual orientation issues.
In Ocamb's article, both sides play certain cards to make the other look bad -- the union talks about the plight of lower-to-middle-class Latino hotel workers while the center points to gay folks who rely on its expensive services.
Since mostly white, fairly well-heeled gays and lesbians attend these kinds of gala dinners, which are major fund raisers for gay organizations like the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, issues of race and economic class also get thrown into the mix.
Whether or not people are going to attend Saturday's gala dinner is now the talk of the town in gay circles in Los Angeles.
Unless some kind of compromise between the union and the center is worked out soon, which doesn't look likely, the controversy has the potential to do some long-term damage between the local labor movement and the local gay rights movement.