Walking into the Hilton Hotel where the Burton Group Catalyst Conference is this morning was very unpleasant.
These young people in their 20s some with bullhorns and some thrusting flyers towards people walking in where ‘from the union’ letting us know that the hotel was under boycott and that we should turn around and not go in. They were there on behalf of Local 2 and the hotel workers rising campaign.
One Monday while at this same hotel the conversation went towards the cost of setting up ‘booths and suites’ etc. at conferences and conventions.
- The union required that this organization pay $50 to simply release 40 balloons so they float on the ceiling.
- Three unions had to get involved in turning the electricity switch on in the booth – so three different people all at $200 an hour were required costing $600.
- The cost for each plug used would be $120.
- I have heard other stories from people who are hard core change the world social activist who have worked for some radical organizations talking about their experience in this realm very very similar stories.
I really think that “unions” need to figure out how to modernize and get with it. Stop alienating businesses that are basically on their side.
I know that SF is a very expensive city. The house keepers and cooks and servers all deserve living wages. One of the facts that I learned from the young woman who was yelling at us as we went in was that House Keepers have more on the job injuries the coal miners. They deserve good wages, good benefits and good working conditions. For god sakes we pay at least $200 a night to sleep in such hotels they can pay their workers decently.
I decided to attempt to dialogue with these young “passionistas” sharing the fact that that there were people and businesses on their side but that their experiences with “unions” charging arbitrarily high amounts of money to do simple things alienates them from caring or being on their side. Instead of saying …ahh that is interesting. I understand that might be an issue. All she could do was parrot back to me that I shouldn’t go into the hotel and how the hotel had refused to negotiate for 2 years. All of which I am sure are true but the fact that they have people ‘representing’ them to the public that can’t even engage in meaningful dialogue and can only parrot ‘the party line’ is very disappointing.
Orville Schell the outgoing chair of the journalism school at UC Berkelye also had a run in with the unions recently written about in the East Bay Express. They are working to preasure the university for higher wages (I went to UC Berkeley I am basically for this). The Unioin threatened to block Al Gore’s coming to talk. So Orville decided to try and work with them bending over backwards to put forward their point of view to the audience at the event. In the end they would not agree to not cause trouble and Orville had to cancel the event.
Schell says. Unable to connect and unwilling to have Gore fly in from Cannes only to face a protest, he nixed the event. At which point Grabelle [the union leader] finally called him back.
“She said she was terribly sorry to hear I’d canceled it,” recalls the dean, who offered a reenactment of their talk in a voice bordering on stupefied. “‘We canceled it because of you!’ I told her. ‘Would you stand here before me and say you won’t picket? Because I can revive this event.’ And she said, ‘No, I can’t tell you that.’ So I said, “Well, then, don’t be sorry!”
Still, if the dean didn’t have a distaste for union tactics before, he does now. “I find it pretty … ” — he searches for something restrained — “unconstructive of them to be canceling graduations and things like that. I really don’t understand.” He vows never to contact the union again. “Nor would I think most people at the university would choose to speak to Grabelle.”
I think unions have to figure out how to actually relate to people and get people on their side instead of just being obstructionists jerks to normal doing normal events.
I know this summer there several Web2.0 activities happening at these hotels (SuperNova is happening at the Palace). Do these unions even know even know how to have a real dialogue? Is yelling and screaming your only modality? The Market is a conversation not a sort of ‘fuck you attitude’ yelling match. Maybe those hip union guys into technology that were at Esther’s conference, PC Forum last year (Andy Stern head of the SEIU) and this year (Gina Glantz, Senior Advisor to the President at SEIU) can help these young hotel passionista’s accosting people as they enter get it.
- Argent Hotel
- Crowne Plaza Union Square
- Four Seasons
- Grand Hyatt
- Hilton San Francisco
- Holiday Inn Civic Center
- Holiday Inn Express
- Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf
- Hyatt Regency
- Mark Hopkins InterContinental
- Omni Hotel
- Palace Hotel
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