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Labor Issues at AJS Conference Hotel

There is currently a labor management dispute between the Marriott Corporation and the UniteHere labor organization resulting in strikes at several Marriott Hotels around the country. The AJS holds a contract for its 50th anniversary conference, December 16 - 18, with the Marriott Sheraton in Boston. On October 3, workers at the Marriott Sheraton in Boston went on strike. The AJS leadership is very sensitive to the ethical and human considerations around this labor dispute. Given our concerns about the strike (and those voiced by several of our members), we are actively weighing our organization’s options and wanted to share with you, in the form of FAQs, the information we have obtained about our current situation, what options could be available to us, and the financial implications of various possible paths forward.

FAQs about the Marriott Sheraton Strike and the AJS’s 50th Anniversary Conference (as of November 7)

What is the board’s decision in response to the ongoing strike that threatens to disrupt the AJS 50th Annual Conference?
Is the AJS taking sides in the current labor dispute?
What does this decision mean for my planning?
What is the financial impact of this decision for me as a member?
What is the financial impact on the AJS and how will the AJS cover any financial loss incurred by this decision?
On what basis was the current decision made?
Is the course of action approved by the board a perfect solution?
How can I help the AJS weather this additional financial burden?
What can the AJS do to reduce the chances of a similar crisis in the future?

FAQs about the Marriott Sheraton Strike and the AJS’s 50th Anniversary Conference (as of October 28)

What actions have been taken in response to the declared strike?
What are the AJS’s contractual obligations to the Marriott Hotel?
What do those numbers mean in the context of the AJS budget?
Does our contract have a strike clause?
Are there other hotels in Boston that might accommodate the AJS conference?
How are negotiations with the other hotels going?
How long will it take to negotiate a contract with an alternative hotel?
Will these alternative hotels incur additional costs for the AJS?
Could we meet at a non-hotel site, such as a convention center?
Could we meet at a non-hotel site, such as a university?
Who will make the final decision about the conference venue?
Why does the decision fall to the board?
What action is AJS taking to reduce the possibility of similar problems in the future?
What are the next steps for the organization?

Earlier Messages from the AJS

October 10, 2018

We are writing to update you on the hotel workers' strike that was joined by the Sheraton Boston, the venue for our 50th anniversary conference, on October 3rd.

Within 24 hours of the launch of the strike at the Sheraton Boston, AJS leadership sent a letter to the hotel informing them that many of our members refuse to cross a picket line and urging an expeditious and just resolution to the labor dispute. That same day, even as we wrote you, our members, to acknowledge these concerns, the AJS staff was already exploring options for relocating our conference to another Boston venue that would not disrupt the travel plans so many have already made. Negotiations for possible alternative spaces are ongoing.

We want to thank those who have stepped forward to offer help. The Executive Committee and staff assure you that we are committed to holding our 50th annual conference in Boston, even though it may be some time before we can announce the venue. We will continue to update you as we learn more. In the meantime, your patience and support for our common labor is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Warren Hoffman
Executive Director


October 4, 2018

As many of you might have heard, workers from the Marriott/Sheraton hotel chain have gone on strike, including workers at the Sheraton Boston where our conference is scheduled to take place this year. We have heard from many of you who have expressed concern about holding the conference at a hotel where labor practices are an issue and we understand that many of you do not wish to cross a picket line.

We take this issue quite seriously and have communicated these strong concerns to the highest levels of the hotel’s management. As you can imagine, the difficulties of breaking a contract or moving a conference of this size at the last minute would be challenging, to say the least. For the moment, we are hopeful that the hotel will resolve the situation expediently and justly.

We will of course update you on further developments. We appreciate your thoughtful input and are doing all we can to make this year’s conference a success.

Sincerely,

Warren Hoffman
Executive Director