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Coalition Brings Together LGBT, Faith and Labor Groups

On Saturday, September 18, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community sponsored a groundbreaking forum that brought together LGBT groups, faith leaders and workers from all over Long Beach. “Breaking Stereotypes Through Economic Justice” was a meaningful discussion between panelists and audience members about shared forms of discrimination and how to overcome them.

The panelists who spoke were Torie Osborn, Former Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Tom Walsh, President, Unite Here Local 11, John Cleary, Founder, Stonewall Young Democrats, Jean Paul Schumacher, Former President, Barangay, Rev. Jerald Stinson, Pastor, First Congregational Church of Long Beach, Long Beach Hilton hotel worker Debbie Pacheco and Dr. Carrie Rickard, Board Member, Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Center.

The  forum examined the shared discrimination faced by seemingly disparate members of the Long Beach community, bringing LGBT and labor groups closer together in an effort to find ways to end the problems each community faces.

“Breaking Stereotypes Through Economic Justice” was co-sponsored by the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, API Equality, The Center of Long Beach, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, the Courage Campaign, Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Long Beach Lambda Democrats, Long Beach Equality, SiGAW, UAW 2865, UAW 4123, Marriage Equality LA, Unite Here Local 11 and the Stonewall Democrats of LA.

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Community Leader: Naida Tushnet

Naida Tushnet

A long-time resident of Long Beach, Naida Tushnet is an experienced activist in her community; she was raised on the principle that it is “important to right wrongs.” Naida’s community involvement isn’t limited to the important work she’s done with the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community—she’s also an active member of the Long Beach Area Peace Network, regularly attending their vigils on Fridays. Naida’s leadership skills are apparent, as she has served as president of Long Beach Area Citizens Involved, and volunteered for numerous political campaigns on the local, state, and national levels. Naida plans to further increase her involvement in the community after her recent retirement. She will also continue to spend time with her lovely grandchildren, with whom she will share her philosophy: it is essential that “those of us with the privilege of good educations and good jobs work to make sure everyone has the same opportunities we had.”

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Community Leader: Nelson Nailat

Nelson Nailat

Nelson Matthew Nailat Jr. is both a student and a teacher in Long Beach and Los Angeles. Nelson currently attends California State University of Long Beach. As a childcare aide educator, Nelson has developed a strong connection with local youth, which sparked his interest in “empowering [them] through written and oral expressions.” Nelson actively runs events for a Long Beach arts collective called Break The Silence, which allows people of all ages to express themselves through art. To many, Nelson is an inspirational disc jockey and driven community organizer. Nelson believes that the Coalition allows him to be the latter and to fight for justice for the workers in his community.

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Photo Gallery: Hyatt National Day of Action

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community joined workers from the Hyatt Regency Long Beach as part of the July 22 national day of action calling on Hyatt to treat its workers fairly.

All photos by Bella Peyser

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Coalition Protests in Solidarity with Hyatt Workers Nationwide

In Long Beach, the Hyatt Regency saw roughly one hundred protesters—workers, clergy and community members—gathered together to call on the hotel to allow its workers a fair process for exercising their right to form a union. Among them were members of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community. The hotel, which is currently up for sale, is engaged in a lawsuit wherein employees of the hotel allege that management has failed to pay proper overtime and denied workers meal and rest breaks as required by law.

Many Long Beach community organizations participated in Thursday’s event, including Coalition members like Unite Here Local 11, Equal Roots, Evolver Long Beach, UAW 2865, AnakBayan, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), LB Area Peace Network, Long Beach Equality, and clergy from a variety of local parishes.

Coalition members joined thousands of hotel workers in 15 cities across North America, who held public demonstrations protesting Hyatt.  As part of these actions, hundreds of workers and supporters were arrested in coordinated acts of non-violent civil disobedience to express their outrage at how the company is trying to make the recession permanent for workers, despite significantly improving industry conditions and Hyatt’s rising share values.

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community stood in solidarity with Hyatt workers today, joining their picket lines after staging a protest inside the hotel itself. Clergy members and community members addressed Hyatt Regency Long Beach management directly by going inside the hotel and calling publicly for the Hyatt Regency to do the right thing and respect their workers’ rights to organize.

“We were able to make a real statement to the hotel about the conditions here,” said Mike Day, President of the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) and a steering committee member of the Coalition. “They need to know that the Long Beach community cares about the way these corporations do business here, and that we’re not going to let the Pritzkers—or any company—treat their workers unfairly anymore.”

The most prominent member of the Pritzker Family, which owns the Hyatt hotel chain, is Penny Pritzker, the former national finance chairwoman of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.  She now serves as a member of the President’s  Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB).  Pritzker also runs TransUnion, a major credit-reporting company that has come under fire in recent months for contributing to the nation’s unemployment problem by selling credit information to employers to screen applicants.

Nationwide, the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than expected, with a hearty rebound projected in 2011 and 2012. In the six months following Hyatt’s November initial public offering Hyatt’s shares were up over 65%. Despite these trends showing a strong recovery for the hotel industry, hotels are still squeezing workers and cutting staff.  More than 115,000 jobs in the hotel industry have been cut since the recession began in 2008—46,000 of which have come just in the first quarter of 2010 as the industry has projected recovery. While this marks a trend involving several major hotel companies, Hyatt is the starkest example.

Aside from Long Beach’s action, other actions were held in Chicago, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Monterey, Boston, Vancouver, Toronto, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Santa Clara and San Diego.   In 2010, citywide hotel contracts covering 45,000 unionized hotel workers in ten cities across the U.S. and Canada will expire and be subject to bargaining.

With photographs by Bella Peyser

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Community Leader: Andrés Gallegos

Andrés Gallegos joined the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community in early 2009. He views his involvement in the Coalition as a continuation of the community work he’s been involved in virtually all of his life: the son of activist parents, he learned from a young age to value civic engagement, seeing it as a way for people who are often ignored or silenced to shape their own futures.

After graduating from Pomona College, Andrés moved to Long Beach and began working at the front desk of the Hilton Long Beach hotel. He lives with a roommate, which helps defray the costs of renting in Long Beach—a challenge for any young person on a budget, but particularly for someone in an industry that does not often offer affordable health benefits or a living wage.

Andrés joined the Coalition because he wants to see conditions improve for the people who work in the service industry in Long Beach. In particular, Andrés has watched the Downtown area of Long Beach transform under the watch of city officials who continue to favor the tourism industry with subsidies, tax breaks, and special treatment. “This extra attention that the downtown area receives is unheard of in other parts of Long Beach. Most of my coworkers live north or east of Downtown, and we all know that the money dropped here is nonexistent on our streets and in our homes. It’s a disparity that is absolutely frustrating and that a lot of folks really wish they could change. We just need to know how.”

His fellow workers frequently struggle with high rents and low wages, and unlike Andrés, many of them are raising families. Andrés knows that as wages rise, entire communities benefit; families will be able to afford more than mere basic necessities and can reinvest in their local communities. Similarly, when employers provide health benefits, it means that families no longer have to rely on public assistance programs for care.

“The city has worked so hard to help these companies succeed, but we need to realize it’s at our expense. The city should wake up and realize it’s losing money when our communities—who work here, spend here, and raise families here—aren’t getting anything back.” Andrés finds it disappointing that redevelopment over the last decade has left other areas of the city to make do with far less investment. Like many Coalition members, he understands that the best solution is to change the way the city deals with tourism development, specifically by encouraging businesses which accept taxpayer subsidies to guarantee good wages and high environmental standards. Though he knows that creating systemic change in Long Beach will be a years-long challenge, Andrés is still hopeful. “The thing about Long Beach is that you can’t ignore the poverty here,” Andrés  says. “It really is like two different cities, and everyone can see it. Hopefully, that makes people want to confront it, and fix it.”

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Photo Gallery: The Coalition and UNITE HERE at Long Beach Pride

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community was proud to march with UNITE HERE Local 11 and legendary organizer Cleve Jones at the Long Beach Pride Parade on May 16, 2010.

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Sign The Pledge


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Video: Long Beach Residents Attend Candidates’ Forum

Long Beach Candidates’ Forum, February 18, 2010.

Click on image to play!

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Taking Action

Together with Long Beach residents, workers, teachers and students, we are working to transform the City of Long Beach into a more progressive city that will enact policies which will support workers and their families. We plan to target voters in North and West Long Beach. Our program consists of two components: canvassing voters and advocating for public policy.

Canvass Program Targeting Long Beach voters

  • The canvass program will gauge community issues by engaging residents with a community survey and will help identify residents who are interested in advocating for a fair and sustainable economy in Long Beach by having them sign a pledge to vote and support a set of economic principles.

Public Policy

  • The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs & a Healthy Community believes that the best way to achieve a Long Beach that works for everyone is to work with the community to pass innovative policies that will create good jobs, thriving communities and a healthy environment. As such, the Coalition is partnering with other community allies to work with local government to craft policies that benefit every resident of Long Beach.

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs & a Healthy Community is engaged in nonpartisan voter outreach efforts. We do not endorse any specific candidates.