Update on Labor Dispute Between Hotel Workers and Hyatt Hotels

Dear SAA Member:

You may be aware that there is an ongoing labor dispute between Unite Here Local 1 (a hotel workers union) and the Hyatt Regency Chicago on the Riverwalk (site of SAA's upcoming annual meeting).  Although we support the efforts of all workers to seek fairness in the workplace, the SAA Council voted on February 23 to proceed with the meeting at the Hyatt despite the union's call for a boycott of the hotel.  To do otherwise would have incurred an unsustainable financial penalty to the Society. A labor contract was in place and the boycott was not in effect when SAA signed the hotel contract.

An important item on the Council’s August 22 meeting agenda is a proposal to study how SAA might deal with such situations in the future and, if possible, avoid them.

For more information about the Council's decision, see: http://www2.archivists.org/news/2011/council-votes-to-proceed-with-chicago-meeting

View additional member communications about this issue here: http://www2.archivists.org/news/2011/update-on-labor-dispute-involving-unite-here-local-1-and-hyatt-regency-chicago

Because the union reached agreements with the Starwood and Hilton hotels in Chicago earlier this year, and because the dispute has been in federal mediation for more than six months, the SAA Council had hoped that the two parties might have reached an agreement by now.  Unfortunately the most recent mediated negotiation on July 25 ended without resolution.  The next negotiation is scheduled for August 18.

The hotel workers are not on strike, nor do we have reason to believe they will be on strike at the time of the SAA meeting. However, if the union and the hotel have not reached an agreement in their dispute, it is possible that the union may choose to picket during our meeting.  The union has held three one-day pickets at Chicago hotels in the past seven months — on December 16 at the Palmer House Hilton, on June 20 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on the Riverwalk, and on July 21 at the Park Hyatt.

Some SAA members have been contacted directly and encouraged to influence SAA to move the meeting and/or not to attend the meeting themselves in support of the union and the workers' cause.  Union representatives also have visited SAA's headquarters in Chicago six times since November 2010, including an invited visit to address the SAA Council on January 29, an unannounced interruption of the Council meeting on May 24, and an unannounced visit by five Unite Here representatives to the office of Executive Director Nancy Beaumont on July 19 at which the union representatives became confrontational and were then escorted from the building.

Despite the ongoing challenges and uncertainties caused by the labor dispute, planning and preparations for ARCHIVES 360° are proceeding apace.  We're delighted that NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon and Archivist of the U.S. David Ferriero have accepted our invitations to speak at the plenary sessions, that SUE has agreed to be our hostess at the Field Museum for the All-Attendee Reception, and that more than 1,500 attendees already have registered.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago--for outstanding education sessions, thought-provoking plenaries, great networking events, some serious deal-making as we collect and exchange 75th Anniversary trading cards, a dynamic exhibit hall (be sure to visit our industry partners to receive a special commemorative tin), This Archival Life peer-to-peer oral history interviews, and so much more — all in celebration of SAA's Diamond Jubilee!

— The SAA Council