Fri 22 Oct 2004
Well, according to an e-mail I just got from the AAA, the annual meeting that was scheduled for Nov. 17-21 at the San Francisco Hilton has been moved to the Atlanta Hilton on Dec. 15th-19th owing to the labor lockout that's going on in SF right now. On the one hand, I respect anthropologists (especially) not wanting to cross picket lines, but at the same time, this pretty well ruins the meeting, I think. I certainly can't go – not only because it's in Atlanta but because it's at a terrible time of year for school and travel.
The e-mail is worth a read. It's an interesting insight into the (academic) anthropological community:
In a teleconference held on October 21, 2004, the AAA Executive Board voted to move the 2004 Annual Meeting from the San Francisco Hilton on November 17-21 to the Atlanta Hilton, December 15-19, 2004, a change in both venue and date.
Many of you are already aware that the San Francisco Hilton Hotel and thirteen other hotels in San Francisco are in a labor contract standoff with Local 2 of UNITE/HERE, the union representing cooks, dishwashers, bellmen, servers, room cleaners and switchboard operators. Union members struck the hotels several weeks ago and were subsequently locked out. Picket lines are posted at the entrances to the Hilton, and it appears likely that contract negotiations between the union and the multi-employer group representing the 14 hotels will not be settled by November 17, the time originally scheduled for the AAA's Annual Meeting.
Two factors weighed heavily in the Board's subsequent decision. The first factor was the wishes of the AAA membership. Fifty-six percent of those responding to the poll favored moving the meeting to San Jose or canceling the meeting entirely as their first choice. Only 44% favored holding the meeting in the San Francisco Hilton as a first choice. Moreover, a great many respondents, including some who voted to keep the convention at the Hilton, indicated that they would find it impossible to cross picket lines and that they hoped that the AAA would not meet in a hotel that was locking out unionized employees.
The second factor was the financial position of the AAA. While we could not be sure that the San Francisco Hilton would recover the full amount, breaking the contract with the San Francisco Hilton would expose the Association to potential damages in excess of $1.2 million plus legal fees. Losses of that magnitude would have meant a reduction in program and services for AAA members, and/or the need for a special assessment or voluntary contributions from AAA members…
The sad irony is that the Atlanta Hilton is a non-union hotel. The unionization of the Atlanta Hilton will be a battle for another day. But even the San Jose option would have meant signing a contract with the local Hilton. A committee appointed by the Executive Board last spring is developing a policy to favor living wage municipalities and unionized hotels in choosing future meeting venues. We will also seek a strike cancellation clause in future contracts with meeting hotels.