The Organization of American Historians exercises great care in selecting venues for its Annual Meeting, choosing hotels that deal with their employees in a fair and equitable manner. Despite such efforts, an OAH member recently received an email from the labor union, UNITE HERE, calling for a boycott of the Sacramento Hyatt because of an “ongoing labor dispute.”
The OAH Executive Committee has closely examined the issue and found that the Hyatt has no current labor dispute and has established a record as a fair employer. The Committee has therefore decided to maintain the Sacramento Hyatt as the site of the 2018 Annual Meeting’s sessions. We supply relevant details below and welcome any questions or concerns you may have.
Despite the OAH’s judgment regarding the public component of the Annual Meeting, any member uncomfortable staying at the Hyatt should make reservations at the Sacramento Sheraton.
The Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians
- The OAH included a clause in its contracts in Sacramento that would allow us to dissolve the contract without penalty in case of picket or strike. Many hotels would not sign this clause but the Hyatt (and Sheraton) were confident that their labor relations were sound.
- The hotel has one union – Stationary Operating Engineers Local 39 – and their contract has been renewed until late 2018. In 2003, UNITE HERE sought to unionize housekeeping and restaurant employees as well. The National Labor Relations Board conducted secret ballot elections on two separate occasions, but those employees did not vote to unionize.
- UNITE HERE, we now know, has a longstanding dispute with Hyatt hotels nationally, but that dispute is not particular to the working conditions at the hotel in Sacramento, which is not directly owned by Hyatt. In general, the OAH prefers to hold its meetings in unionized hotels, but given the size and needs of our meetings, this is not always possible.
- All meal functions, workshops, evening plenaries, and committee meetings take place at the Hyatt and there is nowhere else in Sacramento large enough for those gatherings. Moreover, removing the Hyatt from the meeting would cost the OAH upwards of $120,000 and moving the entire meeting without demonstrated cause would cost the OAH over $500,000, resources the Organization does not possess.
- This situation is unlike the one that confronted the OAH in Providence, Rhode Island. There, news stories were abundant about unfavorable labor conditions at the hotel. In addition, the city has three other larger, hotels where attendees could stay and the cost of changing hotels was only a few thousand dollars.