CCEJ Bows to Concerns Over Labor Dispute, Moves Breakfast from Hyatt to Convention Center
by Greggory Moore 02.03.12 9:45am
Citing “[s]ignificant concerns […] raised by a number of our core supporters” regarding holding its annual Interfaith/Intercultural Breakfast at the Hyatt Long Beach, which has for the last few years been involved in a labor dispute, the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) has chosen to move the event to the Long Beach Convention Center.
“While we appreciate fully that these issues have many side, we do not feel that we should in anyway [sic] detract from the event honoring Gene Lentzner, nor do we feel that we should diminish the positive work that CCEJ has and continues to do in our community by not heeding the concerns raised,” wrote Executive Board Chair Mike Walter in a February 2 letter to its membership.
On January 25, a day after the CCEJ sent out an e-mail announcement regarding the event, Occupy Long Beach contacted the CCEJ to question the wisdom of a group interested in “promoting understanding and respect” holding an event at the Hyatt.
As word spread, other organizations contacted the CCEJ with their misgivings about the choice of venue. On January 30, for example, Jerald M. Stinson, senior minister at the First Congregational Church, sent out a mass e-mail “to some of my justice-seeking colleagues and friends who have traditionally supported CCEJ […].”
Stinson says that in fall 2010, after raising his concerns about the CCEJ’s scheduling events at the Hyatt, discussions with CCEJ President Margaux Kehot and Vice-President for Programs Rene Castro led him to believe the group “would not hold future events at that hotel until the labor disputes were resolved. […] So I was absolutely shocked to see the location for this year’s CCEJ prayer breakfast — once again the Hyatt.”
“Sadly, I have become convinced that CCEJ [is] often more interested in building relationships with the corporate and political world while often writing off people who are poor, and they are doing so again this year by refusing to honor the boycott of the Hyatt hotel in Long Beach […],” Stinson wrote last week. “I will not be attending that event[,] nor will a number of leaders from the South Coast Interfaith Council and CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice). […] I hope you will join me in expressing your concerns or outrage about the decision to once again use the Hyatt’s facilities.”
Founded in 1927 (as the National Conference of Christians and Jews), the CCEJ is, according to the group’s Website, “a human relations organization dedicated to confronting bias, bigotry and racism in America. CCEJ promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.”
The CCEJ’s 21st Annual Interfaith/Intercultural Breakfast, which features keynote speaker Gene Lentzner “sharing his view of the evolution of Human Relations in Long Beach and our world,” will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center on Thursday, February 23, with registration beginning at 6:45 a.m. For more information, visit the CCEJ online or call (562) 435-8184.