February 23, 2011—In a unanimous decision, the SAA Council voted today “That SAA proceed with plans to convene the 2011 Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, August 22–27.”
As noted in January 31 and February 9 communications with all members, SAA had learned of a labor dispute involving UNITE HERE Local 1 (a hospitality workers union) and several Chicago-area hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Chicago, site of SAA’s 2011 Annual Meeting. The union is calling for a boycott of these hotels; no strike has been called. A labor contract was in place and the boycott was not in effect when SAA signed the hotel contract.
The SAA Council discussed the dispute at its January 27–30 meeting in Chicago because of the implications that it may have for the Society’s 75th Anniversary conference, scheduled for August 22–27. During its meeting, the Council heard from representatives of the hotel and the union. On January 31, the Council issued a call for member comments on the situation. Click here to view member comments submitted via the website.
In a support statement accompanying the motion, the Council noted the following: The SAA Council recognizes that this decision may have an impact on individual members' ability and willingness to attend the 2011 Annual Meeting. However, given the significant cost of cancelling the current hotel contract, as well as concerns associated with finding an appropriate alternative venue, it is prudent for the Society to proceed as contracted for the 2011 Annual Meeting. SAA is very grateful to have received substantial and substantive member input into this issue. Member comments helped the SAA Council and staff consider the best way to approach the 2011 Annual Meeting. In addition, many members expressed a desire for SAA to take steps to avoid a similar problem in the future. Stemming from this debate, the Council and staff will analyze the best methods to integrate social responsibility issues into its negotiations and contracts with future conference venues. SAA will keep members informed and involved as these new approaches are being developed.
And in a fiscal impact statement accompanying the motion, the Council noted: It is likely that proceeding as planned will result in diminished attendance at the Annual Meeting, the extent of which is difficult to determine at this time. However, it is unlikely that the impact would approach the financial penalty that SAA would incur were the Society to cancel its contract with the Hyatt (amounting to a maximum of between $409,000 and $685,000, depending on date of cancellation). SAA conference planners will continue to work with the hotel staff to mitigate the financial impact of reduced reservation levels and food and beverage orders.
Read "Update on Chicago Hotel Labor Dispute" here.