Thursday, June 05, 2008

AAA's Decision to Hold the 2010 Annual Meetings in New Orleans

Many of our readers received an email detailing the rationale behind the decision to hold the 2010 AAA annual meeting in New Orleans. Excerpts from this memo can be found below. We encourage readers to express their opinions regarding this decision in the comments section at the end of this post.
In 2005, when the AAA membership was asked to vote to establish AAA policies on meeting sites, in regard to unionized facilities, a minority of AAA members voted to make this a requirement for all meetings. We thus understand that some AAA members would themselves have not acted as the Executive Board did in June 2007, in selecting New Orleans as a meeting site for 2010. But the decision to select New Orleans was in accord with the policy established by the majority of the membership, was judged to be very attractive in terms of the goals we have for our annual meeting, and was judged to fulfill the Association’s goal of being a socially responsible non-profit organization, in the context of post-Katrina America.

AAA’s contracts with all annual meeting hotels have penalty clauses if they are broken by the AAA without cause, as that is defined in the contracts. Were the AAA to change its mind about the 2010 meeting site, because of the relative lack of union facilities, this would be the case and the AAA would be required to pay penalties of $449,908. Costs for the 2010 Annual Meeting would then rise greatly. Projecting 2010 meeting registration at 5,100 (the number of paid registrations at 2002 New Orleans Annual Meeting), individual meeting registration fees will rise by $88 for each attendee at the 2010 Annual Meeting. In our judgment, such an additional amount added on the top of regular registration fees would likely disenfranchise a large segment of AAA’s membership (especially students and recently hired faculty) from the possibility of attending the 2010 Annual Meeting.

Because of its concern about this issue, the Executive Board has initiated an effort to develop contracts for additional sleeping rooms with hotels in New Orleans that are located within walking distance of our meeting location and whose employees are represented by a union. We are pleased to report that this effort has achieved modest success. As a supplement to the original proposal for the 2010 meeting in New Orleans, the choices of hotels in New Orleans will now include a block of rooms at Loews New Orleans Hotel, which is represented by a union (specifically by UNITE HERE and which is on UNITE HERE’s “recommended list.”). There is one other unionized hotel that is within walking distance of our meeting site in New Orleans (the Fairmont), but because it is undergoing a change in management, that hotel is not accepting any contracts for our 2010 dates at this time.