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From Columbus: "Justice, Respect and a Living Wage" resolution aimed at hotel workers

By Lauren Auttonberry
[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Network for Economic Justice is supporting a resolution put forward by the Revs. Sandye Wilson, Jane Gould and Mark Beckwith that could affect the locations of future conventions. 

Resolution D047: "Justice, Respect and a Living Wage" commends worker rights and union recognition for hotel workers as a part of considerations when selecting official Convention hotels. 

The resolution is in the Social and Urban Affairs Committee, and, if recommended for action by the committee, is expected to be taken up first by the House of Bishops.

A memo circulated to Convention attendees by the Rev. Canon Richard Gillett of Los Angeles suggests that attendees leave a message for hotel workers allowing them to pass on cleaning the room for the day.

"Since the housekeepers in our hotels here are non-union, and since the number of rooms they are required to clean can be as high as 18 per eight-hour shift, it is a significant help to them to be able to skip a room or two," the memo suggests. 

An unrelated, yet relevant article in the June 13 issue of "Center Aisle,"  the Diocese of Virginia’s Convention news sheet, by the Rev. John Omer illustrated the impact of tips for the hotel workers across the duration of Convention.

"If 5,000 people leave $5 a night, we inject $25,000 of cash directly into the hands of the working poor each morning; multiply that times five nights and it adds up to $125,000 by the time we leave," he wrote. "For extra credit, follow the recommendations of those posting to the HOB/D listserv to interact with the housekeepers…to seek and serve Christ in the face of those who would otherwise be invisible to us."

Convention has in the past gotten involved in issues concerning the people who work in the hotels and other venues used by the gathering. In January 2000, the church withdrew from the 1,000-room Adam's Mark in Denver which was to serve as the headquarters hotel for the church's General Convention the next summer after the hotel was sued for racial discrimination by the U.S. Justice Department, the state of Florida and a group of black guests. The hotel settled the suits in April but the Convention had already booked other rooms.