An uprising is afoot over Yoga Journal holding their San Francisco conference at the Hyatt Regency despite a years-long union activists’ boycott “demanding fair treatment of hotel workers, higher wages, better benefits, safer workloads, and the right to unionize freely.” The boycott launched in June 2010 has made little progress with Yoga Journal who holds their annual conferences at Hyatt properties and has no intention of changing. Should the yoga community stand up and say something?
Roseanne at It’s All Yoga, Baby has been banging her pots and pans about it since this past July. She recently poke with UniteHere, the union body representing the workers:
“We’ve sent letters, emails and made phone calls, as we do to lots of Hyatt customers,” Unite Here organizer Powell DeGange told IAYB via Skype. “The leadership of Yoga Journal decided not to listen to the call of the workers and they continued their relationship with the Hyatt, so they went ahead with their 2011, 2012 and now 2013 conferences.”
Flyers have been passed around to SF yoga studios urging the yoga community to support the workers. “We are the Women of Hyatt and we’re ready to take back our bodies,” the flyers declare.
And yet there has been little to no support. Then it comes down to the bottom line. Is it all about the money?
Ultimately, the Hyatt and Yoga Journal have similar goals and interests. “Hyatt cares about the money. That’s all that this is. When companies like Yoga Journal keep doing business with them the corporation has no incentive to listen to the Delia, or the Nelia, or the Cynthia, or listen to Rose, who are all workers at the Hyatt Regency.
“We’re really asking that the community of people who do business with the Hyatt – including Yoga Journal – respond to this. We’re not just asking for general help and support. We’re asking people to not write Hyatt a check. Don’t do business with the Hyatt. That’s the best thing anyone can do.”
Finally, after a ruckus was already rumbling, Dayna Macy, the Communications Director of Yoga Journal made a statement via the comments section at IAYB, acknowledging the ongoing struggle and offering their reasons for continuing to work with the Hyatt,
Yoga Journal will hold its annual San Francisco Conference January 17-21, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. There is an ongoing labor management dispute between the Hyatt Corporation and UniteHere. The hotel and its workers have reached agreements on wages and benefits but other issues including union membership voting rules across the Hyatt hotel chain remain unresolved.
The workers at the Hyatt are not on strike, but UniteHere has reached out to many organizations holding events at the hotel and urged them to change their plans.
Yoga Journal has not ignored this issue. We have thought carefully about it and have decided to honor our longstanding contract and the commitments we’ve made to our conference presenters and attendees, as well as the workers at this specific hotel who depend on business for their livelihood.
Yoga Journal fully supports the negotiations between the Hyatt and its unions and hopes that the remaining issues are resolved fairly and quickly.
For more information:
The Hyatt Corporation Website: hyattworkplace.com
The UniteHere website:unitehere11.org andhotelworkersrising.com
But is that good enough? Should the yoga community rise up and rally for the welfare of the workers? IYAB and many commenters/yogactivists think so. But not all. One disagreeing reader, Eric Walrabenstein of WarRetreat.org, shared his argument for staying out of the mess:
Dear Yoga Friends,
Let me start out by saying that I do in fact care about the disenfranchised. I do work to see a more just and compassionate world. And if I were in charge of the Yoga Journal conference, I would very likely change venues in support of those who are seeking a fair shake from the global giant Hyatt.
And thus, I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are voicing their disappointment in Yoga Journal for deciding to hold their conference at the San Francisco Hyatt.
But I do so in the name of this opinionated and imperfect character Eric Walrabenstein—not in the name of yoga. Certainly not.
To voice our outrage about Yoga Journal’s decision to on the basis of yoga—or their affiliation with it—is to, frankly, not understand the purpose, or practice, of yoga. And quite colossally so.
Here’s the thing:
-Yoga is not about standing up for what’s right, while going to war with what’s wrong.
It’s about transcending right and wrong all together.
-Yoga is not about aligning ourselves with those who do good and against those who do not.
It’s about being liberated from the self all together.
-Yoga is not about standing up and fixing the problems of the world.
It’s about sitting down and seeing the innate perfection that has always already been.
This war against reality is the ego’s game, not yoga’s—and certainly not your truest self’s.
So, by all means stand up for the causes that you believe in: Rail against injustice, fight for the disenfranchised, champion the good and assault the bad. It is your right, and some would argue your responsibility, to make this world a better place in which to live.
But please don’t drag yoga into your war against God’s perfection.
Yoga is about creating unconditional stillness; yoga is about accessing the perfection of what is; yoga is about recognizing who you truly are—beyond the one filled with outrage and self-righteousness.
If you wish to truly do something in the name of yoga, sit, breathe, and smile.
Love & blessings…
P.S. I have no doubt that this idea will ruffle a great many feathers; particularly those of the spiritualized, feel-good crowd who confuse temporarily satiated egos for some sort of spiritual progress. I understand. I get pissed at things too, whilst trying to remind myself that this too is part of the inherent perfection of what is.
In a time when yogactivists are honing their voices and speaking more loudly about disservices in the world (ie Occupy Wall Street, sex trafficking) and offering yoga in political spheres (see Seane Corn, Off the Mat, honorary teacher Russell Simmons, Bikram) and others take sides endorsing a candidate the question is, where does it stop? Should it stop? What’s a yogi to do?
We invite your opinions and discussions.