January 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 1

download pdfDownload full issue pdf

ESS Changes Meeting Site
in Face of Labor Concerns

The Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) Annual Meeting, March 18-21, 2010, will be held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers. This is a new venue for the meeting. Until recently, the association had a contract to hold the 80th meeting of the ESS at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge; however, in a highly-publicized move, the hotel and two of its sister Hyatt hotels in the Boston area dismissed roughly 100 members of their housekeeping staff, some of whom had been with the chain for more than 20 years, and outsourced the positions to a company using minimum-wage workers. As reported in both the Boston Globe and the New York Times (and discussed on National Public Radio), Gov. Deval Patrick and the local hotel unions very publicly called for the re-hiring of the workers and threatened boycott. While the hotel offered cushioning measures in response to the criticism, both the workers, union supporters, and the governor's office considered the offers to be inadequate and continued to press for action against the three hotels. The ESS was surprised by the situation and concerned by the reports. ESS leadership knew that members would not attend a meeting under such circumstances and it appeared that a rapid resolution satisfactory to the workers did not seem to be in the near future. For ESS, a decision had to be made in order to assure members an acceptable site and move on with the planning. Delay would threaten the health (program and financial) of the meeting. The ESS Executive Committee therefore terminated the group contract with the Hyatt Cambridge and quickly and aggressively searched for a successor. Fortunately, an available hotel for the same weekend in downtown Boston was identified. The Park Plaza has recently been refurbished and redecorated. The irony is that the conference theme is Economic Crisis and New Social Realities; ESS and its conference are now a part of the narrative. Local unions continue to work on behalf of the housekeepers; association members will provide discussions as part of various sessions at the March meetings. logo_small

Back to Top of Page

Print this article share this article discuss this article

Featured Advertiser:

rwjf ad

Back to Front Page of Footnotes