Move the OAH Annual Meeting

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To all OAH members:

WHEREAS, this April, the Organization of American Historians is set to meet at the Hilton in San Francisco for its 2005 Annual Meeting. UNITE HERE Local 2 representing workers at the convention site has called a boycott against Hilton.

WHEREAS, the unions contract expired more than five months ago with management refusing to put an acceptable proposal on the table. One of the key issues at stake is the employers attempts to increase workers health care co-payments by nearly ten-fold. All of this has taken place during a time when these companies have enjoyed their most robust profit margins since 9/11.

WHEREAS, the employers in San Francisco continue to treat their workers unjustly. They locked-out workers for 5 weeks, and during that period 4300 UNITE HERE members were forced out on the street without pay. Employers also threatened to cancel their workers health insurance benefits. Were it not for the efforts of Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco, who negotiated an end to the lockout and persuaded some private insurers to extend coverage to UNITE HERE members during the holiday season, the lockout might well still be going on, and those 4300 workers and their families would not have health insurance. When the lockout ended, many UNITE HERE members had already received eviction and foreclosure notices. The negotiated cooling off period has long since expired and employer recalcitrance has made a resolution to the dispute distant at best. The boycott is still likely to be in place by the time of the annual meeting.

WHEREAS, we have an ideological, philosophical and moral obligation to honor the union boycott. The more business that comes to these hotels during the boycott, the less incentive employers like Hilton have to settle with their workers. On the flip side, the more business employers lose during the boycott, the more likely they will be to settle.

WHEREAS, if the OAH agrees to work with UNITE HERE staff and move the convention to nearby San Jose, we will be able to honor the boycott and still hold a successful annual meeting. Moving to an alternate meeting site in San Jose will mean that the attendees will not have to change their plane reservations nor will the Friday off-site programs have to be cancelled. Buses can be arranged to do all the walking tours, etc. that have been planned for Friday. Even though the OAH has not committed to moving the meeting, the meeting planner will be inspecting the San Jose site on February 15th if union negotiations are not solidified by this time.

RESOLVED, as OAH members, we must show our support for moving the convention. The OAH already has a union preference and a precedent for moving the annual meeting. In St. Louis a few years back we moved the 2000 annual meeting out of the Adams Mark Hotel in protest over discriminatory practices. This action was very effective. One month after we moved the meeting, Adams Mark agreed to pay 8 million dollars to plaintiffs represented by the NAACP as well as to four historically black colleges and universities in Florida.

RESOLVED, we call on the Organization of American Historians to honor Local 2s boycott of the Hilton and work with the staff UNITE HERE to secure an alternate site in San Jose.