Saturday, October 23, 2004

Letter to AAA President Re: Move to Atlanta

Dear President Brumfiel,

I am deeply ashamed at this moment. Any acceptance of an offer from the Hilton Corporation to bait and switch the UNITE HERE workers and the AAA membership is completely unacceptable.

Despite the fact that 56% of the membership who were registered for the conference voted to move to San Jose or cancel, despite the fact that the remaining respondents wished not to cross a picket line, despite the wishes of the members of UNITE HERE -- who support the move to San Jose, even if some of us must stay in a Hilton there, you have decided to cross the picket line.

And to do it in a way that shames us as members of the AAA.

Even if one were only to consider the welfare of the AAA, this is outrageous.

First, we have an incredibly viable option to move the conference to San Jose. As you are aware, the San Jose Convention and Vistors' Bureau (SJCVB) has offered to negotiate airfare changes to San Jose and has secured incentives in the form of hotel discounts worth $150,000.

Second, all of the sections who have called on the AAA to move the conference have offered financial and logistical assistance. Breaking the contract with the Hilton - - even if they successfully litigate -- does not mean breaking the back of the AAA.

Third, given the choice between, on the one hand, increased dues, decreased publications, and similar measures and, on the other, crossing the picket line and doing it in a non-union corporate-owned Hilton, many of us have voiced preference for the former.

None of the progressive members of the AAA are fooled by the Hilton's crass attempt to subvert the union's efforts and help the AAA save face. As someone said in a recent email "we should all understand that this does not resolve the basic problem of the Hilton Corporation locking out its workers in San Francisco and refusing to negotiate with their union. It only moves AAA to another Hilton site so all of us, Hilton and AAA can continue business as usual. It brings no pressure to bear on Hilton to let its employees return to work and negotiate with their union. It changes cosmetics, not realities." In effect, we are taking a very long walk through the picket lines if we take this option.

I understand that you and the Executive Committee have worked long and hard to come up with a solution. But, with all due respect, you must reconsider this action.

With firm resolve,
Rob O'Brien
PhD Candidate
Temple University

See the original AAA letter here.


Blogger Christie said...

I have to say I'm utterly dumbfounded by this decision. I cannot imagine who the executive committee believes they are helping by this move. They certainly aren't helping the members who objected to the picket line in the first place. Anyone who had planned to attend, regardless, is horribly put out of their way by this, both financially and in time allocation. I simply cannot see *any* benefit to moving to Atlanta for anyone. Well, except Hilton International, I suppose. It does really make me wonder how they were railroaded into this.

I'm also frustrated because I applied to volunteer at this conference. I planned on attending and helping out, but since I wasn't a regularly registered attendee, I was not asked my opinion. I am quite angry about this decision personally.

Oh, and not that it matters, but did anyone but me notice that the data included in the email sent out were seriously flawed? The numbers add up if you consider that everyone selected each option at some point, but if you try to figure out first, second and third choices, the numbers just don't add up. Apparently, 58 people had no first choice at all. 370 respondents had no second choice.

Not that this matters anyway, since the board decided to go with something they didn't even give the membership, or even the conference attendees a chance to voice their opinion on.

2:49 AM  

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