Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Latest San Jose CVB Offer

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

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 -- having spoken with many of you and with many UNITE HERE members, 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. If his conversation with me accurately depicts the situation, this makes the Atlanta contract very different 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. Likewise, 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 among its members 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. They have guaranteed room rates at least as low as the ones in SF. 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.

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

Robert T. O'Brien

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
cc: The Honorable Mayor Ron Gonzales


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