ISNA Crossing a Picket Line?

It has come to my attention that the ISNA Zonal Conference will be held from May 24-26 in Baltimore, MD at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center. There are a lot of great speakers planned for this event and it should be worthwhile to attend. I always enjoy attending ISNA-sponsored events no matter where they are held and always enjoy hearing the likes of Altaf Hussein and Abdullah Ali.


However, it has come to my attention that the Hotel Workers at this location are on strike because of the poor conditions under which they work. It is important for the American-Muslim community to stand up as a people that support just causes from people of all faiths and races. A part of the spirit of social justice that Muslims in America need to embrace is in aligning ourselves with organized labor as they strike and negotiate for better conditions and wages for their workers.


The major Muslim organizations led by those such as the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation have also came to this conclusion and held a number of events and seminars in conjunction with the labor movement. A basic part of having solidarity with labor is honoring striking workers by not frequented the companies which they are striking and therefore bringing economic consequences on those being targeted. Crossing a picket line, especially for any organization, is a sign that the struggle of the workers is not important and you see no value in a strike.


That is why it is most unfortunate that ISNA is holdings its event at a hotel that is currently having a strike. As I am writing this I am trying to find out more details; but if the strike is still ongoing and ISNA goes forward with this conference I will be very disappointed. If the strike is resolved this is a non-issue; but if it appears that this picket line will be crossed by ISNA then I will encourage all readers who are about the rights of workers to make their displeasure heard. And, to give credit it where it is due, if ISNA does the right thing in the event the strike is ongoing I will be the first to sing their praises. I am still seeking more info.



8 thoughts on “ISNA Crossing a Picket Line?

  1. Jazakallahu Khair for bringing this up. I don’t attend ISNA conferences that much but I do hope that they do not cross the picket line. You’re right, Muslim organizations in the US have to fight for social justice causes whether it affects Muslims, non-Muslims, or both.

  2. well, it will more than likely be crossed as i’m sure they had to put down a pretty large deposite to secure the site. in such cases it will be very hard to get that money back from the b-more center

  3. ISNA has sent this to conference registrants:


    ISNA is happy to announce that its East Zone Conference has undergone substantial revisions to accommodate the legitmate concerns of the staff involved in a labor dispute with the Sheraton Hotel, Baltimore. At the outset ISNA was unaware of the labor dispute, and therefore signed a contract with the hotel in February, 2008. On being informed of the dispute in late April, 2008 ISNA immediately sought the advice of Unite Here, the union that represents workers in the hotel indusry. After weeks of negotiations with the leadership of Unite Here the following measures have been put in place:

    1. Our major programs have been shifted to the Radisson Hotel at a substantial cost to ISNA.
    2. ISNA has agreed to consult the respective labor unions in all cities where confrences and conventions are held.
    3. Unite Here has given us an understanding that the foregoing measures adequately address their concerns.

  4. We are writing on behalf of our union, UNITE HERE Local 450 and Local 1 in Chicago, the union that represents Chicago hotel workers. We are writing today because the 2011 ISNA Convention is currently scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in July, a hotel where we and our many co-workers have called for a boycott. We are asking you to move the ISNA Convention to an alternate location. Please do not meet, eat, or sleep at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare until the dispute is resolved.

    Over the last ten years, we have fought to make Chicago hospitality jobs good jobs with livable wages and family health insurance. Now Hyatt is trying to take away what we have fought for. Our contracts expired over a year ago, and since then we have seen our hours cut and endured massive layoffs. Our hotels are understaffed while our co-workers sit at home in need of work. And now Hyatt wants to freeze our wages for years and take away our good insurance.

    That is why we are making the difficult decision of asking customers like you to boycott the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and not support them with your business. We are willing to sacrifice wages and tips now to get respect and dignity in our workplace, and to ensure that our livelihoods continue to support our health and our loved ones.

    As a Muslim and as a moral person, please honor our struggle and our boycott and do not come to the ISNA Convention if it is held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. As a leader in the Muslim community and as a consumer, you have the power to bring this company to justice and stop it from treating its employees this way. Tell Mr. Safaa Zarzour, ISNA Secretary General, that you will not give your business to this hotel. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Leah Pine at Unite Here Local 1 at (312) 986-3945 x226, or at


    Abdul Noorani
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 30 years

    Mohammed I. Sozzer
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 24 years

    Sezair Murati
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 10 years

    Mirsad Okanovic
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 13 years

    Taher Bhatti
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 20 years

    Bouchra Doghmi
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 10 years

    Muhammad Tariq
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 14 years

    Zafar Iqbal
    Hyatt Regency Chicago, 25 years

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