[URBANTH-L]latest developments

Maranatha Ivanova mivanova at socrates.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Oct 26 22:01:41 EDT 2004

The latest letter from Rob:

Dear Colleagues:

As you are by now aware, the SF Multi-Employer Group (MEG) hotels have 
refused the offer of a "cooling-off" period. UNITE HERE and Mayor Gavin 
Newsome favored this effort to get workers back on the job and the 
parties to the labor dispute back to the bargaining table.

As you are also aware, a vast majority of AAA members are emailing one 
another with one simple question, "Where is the 2004 American 
Anthropological Association Meeting going to be held?"

As you may not be aware, the San Jose Convention and Visitors' Bureau 
claims to have been negotiating with AAA leadership over the past few 
days regarding holding the meeting in San Jose (see latest letter from 
them below. I will send it -- and the previous correspondence -- to you 
as an attachment if you email me offlist). It is my opinion that this 
move would make sense for the following reasons:

1) According the David Glenn, the Chronicle of Higher Education reporter 
I spoke with yesterday, the AAA contract with the Atlanta Hilton has an 
"attrition" clause. This makes this a very different contract from the 
one the AAA had with the SF Hilton. In essence, what this means is that 
the AAA is guaranteeing the Atlanta Hilton a certain number of rooms 
will be occupied. If this agreed-to occupation is not met, the AAA will 
be liable for any unsold reservations.

This is problematic for three reasons. First, it is a major blow to the 
locked-out workers of UNITE HERE Local 2, since we are guaranteeing 
revenue to the company that is denying them access to their jobs. Any 
effect the effort by members of the AAA to "boycott" the Atlanta Hilton 
by not staying or eating there is therefore null and void. Second, it 
exposes the AAA to the very costs we were, the members were told this 
move would be saving us. Finally, unlike the SF or SJ Hilton's the 
Atlanta hotel is corporate owned. The Hilton Corporation realizes 
relatively little in profits from its franchised hotels like those in SF 
and SJ. In comparison, it receives all of the profit from the hotels, 
like the one in Atlanta, that it owns outright.

2) Speaking of costs, as several people have pointed out, the move to 
Atlanta -- rather than some locale nearby SF -- effectively removes 
economic exposure from the shoulders of the organization and hoists it 
onto those least able to afford it. Those who have purchased 
non-refundable tickets, who have paid huge conference registration fees 
to attaned a conference they cannot go to because of teaching, family, 
and scholarly obligations, and who have visas to negotiate are 
OVERWHELMINGLY grad students, adjuncts, part-timers, and "marginalized" 
members of the AAA (I put this in quotes to refer to us -- I'm a grad 
student with a non-refundable ticket and an exam to give during the 
proposed December dates -- because I am loathe to equate my troubles 
with those faced by the locked-out hotel workers).

3) San Jose has waived the fee for using their Convention Center. The 
SJCVB and UNITE HERE continue to promise logistical support, including 
arranging transportation for AAA members flying in to SF.

4) UNITE HERE have communicated in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that, while they 
appreciate the pressure put on by a move to Atlanta, they would prefer 
the move to San Jose, since the MEG hotel chains and the Hilton in 
particular will not realize the bulk of the revenue from hotel stays in 
SJ. Visit www.unitehere.org to see that they have approved the union 
hotels in San Jose for all travellers concerned about labor issues.

5) As the article in today's LA Times Business section entitled "U.S. 
Travel Business on Road to Recovery" makes clear the SF Hilton is 
entirely dependent on its massive profits from business like ours. 
Likewise, the Hilton Corporation, whose "earnings jumped 79% in the 
third quarter" with the "company expect[ing] more good times ahead," 
would have its good times on our Atlanta dime and on the backs of the 
locked-out workers.

6) The move to SJ would accomodate the greatest number of registered 
members still able to go, facilitating face-to- face dialogue on the 
burning issues of ethics and governance that this issue has made 
abudantly clear. Job seekers would be able to go to the conference with 
some assurance that anyone seeking applicants is actually going to be 
there. Several sections have already moved their panels to other sites 
in the Bay Area.

I fear that this issue is tearing our association apart. The discipline 
and its association have too great a value to me to quietly watch that 
happen. It is my hope that the membership will quickly pull together and 
convey to the Executive Committee that this is the best outcome possible 
and that we will cooperate with them in good faith to make it happen.

In solidarity as an anthropologist, a dues-paying member of the AAA, and 
a labor activist,

Robert T. O'Brien

Appended message follows: October 26, 2004

Ms. Elizabeth Brumfiel, President Mr. Alan Goodman, President Elect 
American Anthropological Association

Via E Mail

Dear Ms. Brumfiel and Mr. Goodman:

At your request, some final points in our bid to host the American 
Anthropological Association's 103rd Annual Meeting in our city. Our 
community is ready and capable of welcoming your attendees with little 
to no inconvenience to them. We will work with you and your team to make 
the transition from San Francisco to San Jose a smooth one. This letter 
supercedes all previous offers extended and represents our most current 
proposal to the American Anthropological Association to host the 2004 
Annual Meeting in San Jose.

I would like to point out a few benefits of bringing this program to San 
Jose versus another city:

. Proximity to San Francisco: Just 35 miles from San Francisco 
International Airport, airline tickets will not need to be changed. 
Shuttle service to/from San Jose is affordable and convenient. It is 
likely that your travelers have already booked flights into Oakland, San 
Jose or San Francisco for the November program so no flight changes will 
likely be needed. Main carriers into San Jose International Airport are 
Southwest and American, two stable and affordable airlines. . "Big fish" 
in our city: The American Anthropological Association will take over the 
downtown area and be the sole focus of our community to ensure the 
success of your program. . Our hotel rates will be confirmed not to 
exceed your highest contracted rates in San Francisco at our nationally 
recognized brands (Marriott, Fairmont, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Hyatt) all 
within 2 blocks of our Convention Center. . Based up your sleeping room 
actualization of 6,000 total rooms (1650 rooms on peak nights) as 
communicated to us by your meeting planner, the American Anthropological 
Association will realize $300,000 from the hotel community and city. 
Historically, the American Association Anthropological Association has 
utilized 7,400+ sleeping rooms when the program was in the Bay Area. . 
The San Jose McEnery Convention Center, CenterPlate and Team San Jose 
are offering an additional $150,000 in cash value to the American 
Anthropological Association in the form of waived convention center 
rental, Food and Beverage discounts, labor consideration and 
complimentary housing.

We are confident that this will be a most successful conference for AAA 
and await your "green light". In fact, we look forward to bringing AAA 
back to San Jose in years to come after you have had a successful 
conference in 2004 in San Jose!


Daniel Fenton President and CEO (408) 792-4107 dfenton at sanjose.org

cc: The Honorable Mayor Ron Gonzales
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