[URBANTH-L]AAA Report on the 2006 Meetings

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Fri Jun 3 16:43:45 EDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kerim Friedman" <oxusnet at gmail.com>
To: <aaaunite at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2005 1:10 AM
Subject: [aaaunite] AAA Report

This was sent out by the AAA:

June 1, 2005

To: Labor Relations Commission
From:  Liz Brumfiel, AAA President
RE: 2006 AAA Annual Meeting Location

At its spring meeting, May 14-15, 2005, the AAA Executive Board had a
lengthy and productive discussion of issues surrounding the location
of the 2006 Annual Meeting, presently scheduled to be in San
Francisco.  Give the likelihood of hotel management-labor conflict at
the San Francisco Hilton, the scheduled venue of the 2006 Meeting, and
given strong indications from AAA members that they would not cross
picket lines in the case of a strike or a lockout, the AAA Executive
Board directed AAA staff to begin to explore alternative 2006 meeting
times and locations and to initiate further surveying of membership as
to acceptability of these other potential times and locations.  The
Board also agreed to make a decision concerning the 2006 meeting
location no later than July 1, 2005, and it directed me to consult
with the Section Assembly and the Labor Relations Commission regarding
these deliberations.

This memo reviews the information that was considered by the Executive
Board at its spring meeting.

Status of the Hotel Management-Labor Conflict

President-Elect Alan Goodman summarized the current and anticipated
status of hotel management-labor conflict, based on conversations that
Labor Relations Commission members Paul Durrenberger, Alan Goodman,
and Rob O'Brien have had with UNITE-HERE (UH) representatives Neal
Kwatra and Matthew Walker.  Paul Nuti, AAA Director of External,
International and Government Relations also participated in these

Goodman stated that the union regards San Francisco as "ground zero"
in its struggle with the hotel/restaurant industry.  Historically, the
industry has been atomized, but its recent transformation from locally
owned and controlled employers to a more consolidated, globalized
structure has created a need for a "national-level relationship"
between labor and hotel groups.  This is necessary in order for labor
to secure better terms on issues such as health care, safety, workers
compensation costs, health insurance, and worker productivity.

Labor contracts will have expired in several major markets (New York,
Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Detroit,
Monterrey and Hawaii) during 2005-2006.  The union cannot provide any
assurance to the AAA that the dispute in San Francisco will be
resolved in advance of November 2006.  Management shows no willingness
to settle the dispute in the near term.  The stakes for the union are
particularly high in San Francisco where, according to the union, the
hotel companies are making lots of money and the unions are among the
healthiest, best organized, and strongest in the country.  UH Local 2
is a "linchpin" of the UH national strategy.  One-third of the San
Francisco Hilton's cash flow comes from academic/professional groups
like the AAA.  Hilton has stated recently that its recent weak
performance in San Francisco is a result of the labor action.  Walker
expressed appreciation for the AAA's engagement and support in the
labor dispute.

Goodman said that he had every reason to believe that the current
labor action will still be in effect in 2006.  So, it is important to
begin examining options for the 2006 Annual Meeting.

Membership Survey

AAA Executive Director Bill Davis then presented the results of the
recent email membership survey.  Approximately 22% of the membership
responded to the survey.

In response to question 1, "If there is an employee strike at the San
Francisco Hilton Hotel at the time of the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting and
a picket line established at the hotel, would you be willing to cross
the picket line to attend the Meeting?"

9% of respondents answered "Yes"
75% of respondents answered "No"
14% of respondents answered "It would depend on the situation" and
2% of respondents answered "I don't know".

In response to question 2, "If employees of the San Francisco Hilton
Hotel at the time of the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting are being locked out
and a picket line established at the hotel, would you be willing to
cross the picket line to attend the Meeting?"

8% of respondents answered "Yes"
83% of respondents answered "No"
8% of respondents answered "It would depend on the situation" and
2% of respondents answered "I don't know".

In response to question 3, "If union representatives of San Francisco
Hilton Hotel employees are urging a boycott of the hotel at the time
of the 2006 AAA meeting, but employees are not on strike or locked out
of the hotel, would you be willing to attend an AAA meeting at the San
Francisco Hilton?

28% of respondents answered "Yes"
39% of respondents answered "No"
29% of respondents answered "It would depend on the circumstances" and
5% of respondents answered "I don't know".

In response to question 4, "Under normal circumstances, would you
expect to attend the AAA Annual Meeting in 2006?

80% of respondents answered "Yes"
5% of respondents answered "No", and
16% of respondents answered "I don't know".

The Executive Board concluded that these responses provided clear
evidence that the AAA cannot hold an effective annual meeting in San
Francisco in 2006 if, as seems likely, management-labor disputes are
occurring at the time.

Bill also reported on the cost to the AAAof moving the 2004 meeting to
Atlanta.  The total cost of the move was $445,394.  This total

Refunds to AAA members (registrations and abstracts): $296,015
Exhibitor fee refunds:         55,050
Special event refunds:       2,500
Child care contribution refunds:                 107
Atlanta Hilton attrition clause (50%)         81,000
Legal fees     10,722

A more detailed report on the financial consequences of the decision
to move the 2004 meeting
from San Francisco will be provided to AAA members in the Anthropology
News this fall.

Finally, Davis reported on a survey on labor/hotel conflict he
conducted among the 67 national scholarly organizations who hold
membership in the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and of
two recent meetings of ACLS during which issues involving hotel
contracts for 2005 - 2007  had been discussed at length.  Among issues
viewed as most problematic were (1) the difficulty of informing
association members about the consequences and costs of breaking
contracts for annual meetings, (2) identifying the particular
circumstances in which a society should employ its meeting location
policy to serve the advancement of social policy goals, (3) the extent
to which the use of meeting location policy to achieve social policy
objectives was severely restricting the number of city and hotel
venues available for large scholarly meetings, and (4) the likelihood
that continuing hotel labor/management conflict could prevent some of
the scholarly societies from continuing to successfully conduct their
traditional annual meetings.  The chief executive officers of ACLS
member societies have agreed to continue to work together in
addressing these and other issues.

Report of the Labor Relations Commission

AAA President Liz Brumfiel provided a brief report of the activities
of the labor Relations Commission's efforts to forge liaisons with
other scholarly and progressive organizations.

The LRC has learned that a few organizations have negotiated contract
language that reduces or eliminates financial penalties for
cancellations in response to strikes or other labor disputes.  For
example, the American Sociological Association has included paragraphs
in some of its contracts that permit the Association to cancel its
hotel contract in the event of any labor dispute that it believes will
disrupt or interfere with the Association's Annual Meeting.  The ASA
must demonstrate at least 40% of its members would refuse to attend
the Annual Meeting due to the labor dispute.

The American Studies Association includes a paragraph in its Standard
Agreement that gives it the right to cancel its contract without
penalty if there is a possibility that organized labor actions (such
as picketing) could occur during the meeting dates.
Brumfiel noted that while these contracts protect organizations
against financial loss when they cancel meetings at locations where
labor struggles are in progress, the contracts provide no protection
against the disruption that occurs when meetings must be moved on
short notice from one location to another.  The way to avoid meeting
disruption is to determine the dates that labor contracts will expire
in advance of signing a meeting contract with a hotel and to avoid
signing contracts with hotels for years when their labor contracts are
due to expire.

Brumfiel also noted that other organizations have had difficulties as
a result the San Francisco labor disputes.  The Pacific Division of
the American Philosophical Association decided to proceed with its
meeting in a hotel that was being struck, and this decision caused
deep and bitter division within the association, disputed elections of
officers, and the resignation of the APA executive director.  The
Organization of American Historians decided to move its March-April
2005 meeting from San Francisco to San Jose when they became aware
that there was "a distinct possibility of a strike, lockout or
continued boycott at the Hilton in San Francisco."  The move cost the
OAH somewhere around $460,000, about the same as the loss to the AAA
when it moved its 2004 meeting to Atlanta.  However, the OAH is about
half the size of the AAA, and most of its loss was incurred as
liquidation damages paid to the SF Hilton whereas most of the AAA loss
was incurred as registration fees refunded to its members and none of
the loss was paid out to the San Francisco Hilton Hotel.

Brumfiel concurred with other presenters that the key to avoiding
disruption of the 2006 meetings was to make an early decision to move
the meeting, giving the SF Hilton time in which to rebook the room
space cancelled by the AAA and before any AAA members make
arrangements to attend the meetings.

Discussion of the AAA's Options

Discussion then ensued of the AAA's options for 2006.  AAA Director of
Meetings Lucille Horn reported that she had already initiated a
discreet search of unionized locales that might be available for the
2006 Annual Meeting.  She observed that when the AAA puts out a RFP to
hotels, it lists unionized facilities as one of its requirements. 
Thus, hotels everywhere are made aware that the AAA will give its
business only to unionized hotels.

Board Action on the 2006 Annual Meeting Location 

After this discussion, Alan Goodman moved the following:

Whereas, there is continued labor unrest in San Francisco


Whereas, a recent membership poll shows strong support for not
attending a meeting at a hotel involved in labor unrest:

1) The AAA Executive Board directs AAA staff to explore alternative
2006 meeting times and locations,
2) The Executive Board directs AAA Staff to initiate further surveying
of membership as to acceptability of these other  potential times and
3) The Executive Board directs Liz Brumfiel, Alan Goodman and Bill 
Davis to consult with the Section Assembly, and the Commission on
Labor  Relations regarding the deliberations of the AAA Executive
Board, and
4) The AAA Executive Board agrees to set a time for the Board to come
together via email or telephone, not later than July 1, 2005.

 By a unanimous vote, the motion was adopted. 

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