The Pacific Division recently learned that the union representing San Francisco hotel workers has called for a boycott of several San Francisco hotels, including our conference hotel. The Executive Committee would like to know whether you feel that the meeting should be moved outside San Francisco or whether you oppose moving the meeting.Apparently they are considering moving the meeting to San Jose, which is less than 40 miles from the San Francisco airport, or Las Vegas, which is less than 570 miles from the San Francisco airport.
A less fair person would point out that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the union has been urging a boycott against the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco since at least August, 2009, and that a responsible organizing body would have made this decision much earlier in the game. But let's not play the blame game. Let's be constructive.
For one thing, I think it would be very, very bad to move the conference to Vegas at this point. People who are planning to attend have already made travel plans. On the other hand, I think it's pretty important to stand in solidarity with our hotel-working brothers and sisters. While they are lucky to have jobs, their jobs are no doubt much more unpleasant, soul-crushing, and exploitative than the jobs we have (or hope to have). We should help them out and avoid the seven San-Francisco-area hotels they ask us to. So I'm in favor of finding another hotel in San Francisco or else moving to San Jose.
Does anybody know what's actually happening?
Clayton Littlejohn of Think Tonk shares the following email from a Local 2 member:
My co-workers and I are currently in the midst of a dispute with Starwood Hotels, the company that manages the Westin St. Francis. The company is insisting on proposals that would make health benefits unaffordable for myself and my family, cut workers’ retirement benefits, and increase workloads.
This is despite the fact Starwood made $180 million in profits during just nine months last year, and the Westin St. Francis hotel itself generated over $11 million in earnings. My co-workers and I went on a 3-day strike in November to show that we will not let Starwood, whose CEO made $4.8 million in 2008, use the economy as an excuse to squeeze as even harder. We are calling on all Westin St. Francis customers to BOYCOTT the hotel until it agrees to a fair contract.
I understand the APA is taking input on whether or not to hold its conference at this hotel. Unfortunately, the information the APA sent its members was false and misleading on several counts. For example, the APA said that “there is no dispute over salaries or working conditions” and that “the parties do not appear to be far apart.” This simply isn’t true. The issues at stake in negotiations include wages, working conditions, workers’ right to join unions, and affordable healthcare.
Moreover, the APA said, “There are no pickets, though union staff may distribute leaflets at the hotel doors”. Local 2 members have held multiple picket lines outside the St. Francis. I myself participated in a lively picket line just a few days ago, along with 150 coworkers, in front of the hotel. Starwood is trying to spread the idea that it’s just a few “union staff” at our actions – but APA members shouldn’t buy into this line. You can get a glimpse into our struggle through a video that’s posted on our union’s website, www.unitehere2.org.
We are asking you not to eat, sleep, meet, or speak at the Westin St. Francis. I would also like to ask you to contact the APA to let them know that you will not violate this boycott. Please contact the Pacific Division’s Secretary-Treasurer, Dominic McIver Lopes, at 604-822-6703 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re counting on your support. Thanks for taking the time to stand up for working people in San Francisco.