Jay-Z and Friends Party Past Picketers

(Hat-tip to Daily Kos)

The slap got the headlines, occurring as it did on live television, but Oscars night saw another celebrity moment that deserves attention. Jay-Z held his Oscars party at legendary Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont, as he had pre-pandemic. The difference is that this year there was an active boycott of the hotel, and the stars attending Jay-Z’s party did so by crossing a picket line. Now, one star has said she wasn’t aware of the boycott and will honor it from now on.

The union appealed to Jay-Z asking him to find a different location for his party, but the party went on at Chateau Marmont, with heavy security as union members and allies picketed.

Workers have said that in addition to the layoffs with no severance during the pandemic, Chateau Marmont practiced racial discrimination, with Black and Latino workers less likely to be promoted and some managers making racist remarks. Workers also described being expected to tolerate routine unwanted touching by guests. Balazs himself has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.

What’s really disappointing is the number of stars who crossed that picket line. Inside the party, fresh off his Oscar win for Summer of Soul, Questlove was DJing. “Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Winnie Harlow, Jon Hamm, French Montana, Zoe Kravitz, P Diddy, DJ Khaled, and Oscar winner Troy Kotsur were all met by protesters before entering the bash,” Page Six reported, and “Chris Pine, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Vin Diesel, Lupita Nyong’o and Rosario Dawson also attended the bash.” Many of these—though definitely not all—are people you’d expect to see supporting workers instead of crossing picket lines.

Dawson, who has served as a campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the past, claimed on Twitter that the picketers were gone by the time she arrived and she did not know about the boycott, pledging to respect it in future. The union called on others to join her:

But let it be noted that many celebrities had already publicly supported the boycott, including Jane Fonda, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, Samira Wiley, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Alfonso Cuarón. Being the Ricardos and The Offer pulled out of plans to film at Chateau Marmont due to the boycott. This wasn’t well-hidden information that no one had previously heard about.

It is disappointing and frustrating that Jay-Z, Michael B. Jordan, Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Zoë Kravitz and other Hollywood elites chose to prioritize their party, and their fame, over real people,” said Keisha Banks, a former Chateau Marmont worker. “It might just be one party to them but these are people’s livelihoods. They could be using their celebrity to get someone like Andre Balazs to listen to his workers. Why would they want to be associated with a hotel that discriminates and cheats its employees?”

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