AHA Council Adopts Resolution on the 2010 Meeting in San Diego

At its regular meeting today, the Council of the American Historical Association passed the following resolution in keeping with the spirit of a resolution adopted by the business meeting the previous day.

Resolution on the 2010 Annual Meeting in San Diego

WHEREAS, The AHA is committed to equity in the workplace and equal rights regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, disability, gender, or sexual orientation;

WHEREAS, It is one aspect of the mission of the AHA to bring historical expertise to bear on issues of pressing public concern;

WHEREAS, The Council concurs with the spirit of the resolution approved by the 2009 business meeting; and

WHEREAS, A boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego in 2010 would actually benefit the owner financially, but would cause severe financial loss for the AHA;

Resolved, That the AHA will implement the following strategies that it believes will more effectively bring attention to this issue:

1. Form a working group to collaborate with the 2010 Program Committee and the LGBTQ Task Force to create a series of sessions and special events that will address issues of equity and place questions of marriage and family in historical perspective.

2. Set aside $62,500 of AHA funds, and up to $100,000 if needed if matching funds from members and outside donors are not raised, to support initiatives in this vein proposed by the working group, Program Committee, or LGBTQ Task Force.

3. Arrange press coverage and invite public participation from San Diego and the surrounding communities to publicize the AHA’s position on equity and equal rights, as fully as possible. The American Historical Association proposes to use this Annual Meeting as an opportunity to educate its members and the public on this issue.

4. Make hotel rooms available in convenient alternative venues for AHA members who do not wish to patronize the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

The Council expressed its enthusiasm for using the 2010 meeting in San Diego as an opportunity to bring historical scholarship to bear on issues of pressing public concern. “The Council removed some phrases that appeared to make ad hominem attacks,” AHA President Laurel Thatcher Ulrich observed. “The Council remains firmly committed to the spirit and intent of the resolution and adopted a resolution as close as possible to the text agreed to at the meeting.”

“The original language implied erroneously that the Association had already taken a position on Proposition 8,” AHA Executive Director Arnita Jones added. “Council was eager to move forward with plans for a 2010 annual meeting that would seize the opportunity to create a significant teaching moment.”

At its meeting on January 2, the Council established a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Task Force, which will gather information about the concerns of LGBTQ members and propose concrete practical solutions.

The working group described in the resolution has been formed by Council to move forward expeditiously to implement this resolution on the San Diego meeting. The group will include the association’s three vice presidents and representatives from the association’s Program Committee and the new LGBTQ task force.

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  1. Powell DeGange

    On July 10th, 2008, a coalition led by the San Diego labor movement and the LGBT community called for a boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the host site for AHA’s 2010 Convention.
    Manchester’s Hyatt has brought the LGBT community UNITE HERE together to fight for equality for gay and lesbian couples and justice for the workers at his Hyatt hotel. Doug Manchester has a history working against both:

    · Equality for lesbian and gay couples. Doug Manchester is one of the leading funders ($125,000) of Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that discriminates against LGBT couples. The California LGBT community faces an extremely difficult fight to prevent an outright ban on their civil right to have legal recognition for same sex couples and equal protection for their families. While Hyatt may officially disavow Manchester’s contributions to Proposition 8 as a personal choice, the fact remains that their multi-million dollar LGBT marketing efforts must be seen as little more than sheer hypocrisy when the revenue this marketing attracts is then funneled into efforts that bite the hand which feeds them. In such a situation, we always have the ability to choose not to feed them any longer.
    · Justice for Manchester Hyatt workers. Manchester’s Hyatt allegedly forces housekeepers to clean more rooms than housekeepers at other Hyatt hotels, including the other Hyatt hotel in San Diego. In 2006, housekeepers began lunch hour protests against working conditions in the hotel, saying that their daily room quota had been increased from 17 to 30 rooms per shift! We have no reason to believe that Manchester has made any workload reductions to address these protests. Across the hotel industry, increasing workloads have put a greater strain on housekeepers; work speedups have led to increasing injury rates. According to the Department of Labor, injury rates for hotel workers are 40% higher than the service sector average. Hotel housekeeper injuries are debilitating. Back injuries, housemaids’ knee (bursitis), and shoulder pain can lead to permanent disability. Numerous studies have shown that unreasonable workloads are a serious occupational health issue; here are a few facts that highlight the severity of that problem:
    In a recent survey of more than 600 hotel housekeepers in the U.S. and Canada, 91% said that they have suffered work-related pain. Of those who reported workplace pain:
    _ 77% said their workplace pain interfered with routine activities.
    _ Two out of every three workers visited their doctor to deal with workplace pain.
    _ 66% took pain medication just to get through their daily quota.

    (UNITE HERE survey results)

    As stated above, it is also a fact that the California LGBT community faces an extremely difficult fight to prevent an outright ban on their civil right to have legal recognition for same sex couples and equal protection for their families. While Hyatt may officially disavow Manchester’s contributions to Proposition 8 as a personal choice, the fact remains that their multi-million dollar LGBT marketing efforts must be seen as little more than sheer hypocrisy when the revenue this marketing attracts is then funneled into efforts that bite the hand which feeds them. In such a situation, we always have the ability to choose not to feed them any longer.
    As a customer of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, AHA is caught in the middle of this contentious labor dispute. It is impossible to predict what will happen under these circumstances and the dispute will continue to escalate as will picketing, demonstrations and other actions outside of the hotel. As a large public association, it is imperative that the Annual Meeting be moved to a different venue so that it members who will not cross San Diego Labor Council sanctioned picket lines and stand for lgbt equality will be able to attend and the conference will enjoy full participation.
    AHA has the ability to do the right thing and not patronize a business that fuels injustice and discrimination within our community. This has been a highly visible dispute and we encourage you to avoid the controversy and meet at an alternate venue. The American Association of Law Schools relocated their Annual Conference in January of 2009 out of the Manchester Grand Hyatt to another property to honor the boycott and not alienate members of their organization that may not be comfortable publicly violating a boycott called by hotel workers, community activists and leadership of the LGBT community. We urge you to stand with all those fighting against discrimination: San Diego’s hotel workers, women, immigrants and LGBT community and honor the boycott.

    Here are some other links and information about the boycott that are resources when learning about the dispute at the Manchester Hyatt.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r4NkiuCFBA&feature=related

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060211/news_1b11hotel.html

    http://sleepwiththerightpeople.org/

    The New AHA Solution was not passed with the needed 100 people present to vote on it. Canceling the AHA’s conference would absolutely impact Manchester’s bottom line and send a strong message that his donation is unacceptable to those people of conscience, progressives, academics and other activists for social justice. The assumption that he already has banked a lot of AHA’s money is false. The Convention is a year out. This situation is no fault of AHA’s however they need to fight Manchester on this and demand they get out of their contract because of the irresponsible action’s of the hotel that places AHA in a compromising position. By continuing to have the conference at the Hyatt, AHA is perpetuating the injustice and discrimination.

    Please watch this youtube video on what happened when the National Communications Association came to San Diego:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO6JQydegf8&feature=related

    Feel Free to contact me at anytime
    Powell DeGange
    UNTIE HERE local 30
    510 410 5154

    Reply
  2. Christopher Miller

    Why not set aside $62,500 to assist with the concerns of AHA members who cannot find a job, or if employed, cannot find a tenureable, permanant position? Why isn’t this the primary concern of what is allegedly the premier professional organization of Historians in the United States? Such a fund might, for example, cover the registration costs of graduate students or recent graduates who are seeking employment through interviews at the AHA job register. It might award travel grants to qualified (but unfunded) members of the profession who wish to participate in the intellectual discussion taking place at the convention. It might hire a person or persons to advocate more effectively for reform of the disastrous hiring processes that are currently in place.

    But setting aside such funds to embarrass a hotel owner in San Diego, all the while ignoring the collapse of the profession?

    That’s a recipe for continued public irrelevance.

    Reply
  3. J. J. Ferreira, Jr.

    While I sympathize with the comments of Christopher Miller, there is a wider responsibility by the AHA, as a Congressionally chartered professional organization, to uphold the civil rights of all members of the profession, especially in the face of such blatant bigotry on the part of the hotel owner/franchisee in which the AHA’s major annual meeting takes place. Members of the AHA should use the opprtunity made by the location of the meeting at Mr. Manchester’s hotel to stage quite public protests within the hotel itself. After all, the AHA has paid for the right to occupy the hotel. What better opportunity to remind other patrons of the hotel of his narrow-minded views and the undesirability of funding the establishment of second-class citizenship on the part of the LGBT community. Perhaps it could effect his bottom line in the future for other events more willing to “rock the boat” by boycotting his business.

    Reply
  4. Richard Pierard

    As a 49 1/2 year member of the AHA I am glad the council acted reasonably and did not cancel its contracts with this hotel. I remember well the last time it engaged in this sort of political thinking and moved the convention from Cincinnati because the city’s civil rights ordinance did not include homosexuals as protected category. This action economically harmed those in Cincinnati who actually favored a more broadly inclusive civil rights definition and as many of us expected, the judiciary in a short time threw out the narrower interpretation anyway. We accomplished nothing except causing some of us hardship and losing a lot of money. To my knowledge, we were never given a full accounting of how much this precipitous and pointless action cost the Association and much the dues had to be increased to cover the losses. As for spending $62,500 to assuage the feelings of the LGBTQ community, I agree with colleague Miller that this amount of money could be much better spent addressing the genuine needs of our troubled profession.

    Reply
  5. Kimberly Campanello

    I must respectfully add to the discussion regarding Cincinnati. Actions such as that taken by the AHA DID have an impact on the effort to eliminate Article 12.

    Reply
  6. Barbara Gannon

    Miller is right. Job seekers are DESPERATE. If that much money exists that can be set “aside” set it aside for the unemployed. How about free registration fees. Historian like to talk about injustice. Look no further than your own profession. We can worry about justice issues outside the AHA when we get our own house in order. Here is a good question, who is more likley to have employee health benefits, a Wal-Mart greeter or an adjunct. We all know the answer to that question.

    Reply