Friday, June 13, 2008

Bouchercon progressing right on schedule

A message from your co chairs

In 2006 the Wyndham Inner Harbor became the Sheraton City Center. Many of you will remember the brief confusion that caused when making reservations to attend Bouchercon 2008, Charmed to Death. The slight inconvenience to us was minimal. Often when a company changes mastheads, there are ramifications for its employees. I’m happy to report that when our host hotel became the Sheraton I saw very little turnover in staff and what little there was occurred almost entirely in management. For the past two years Judy and I have had an entirely stable relationship with everyone at the Sheraton, from the valets who help us out of our cars to the man who delivers late night beverages to our rooms. The staff of the hotel is amongst the most gracious and conscientious I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. Insuring their guests have everything they need for a comfortable stay is a hotel wide point of pride.

Several month’s ago I was contacted by a woman representing UNITE HERE. Was I aware there was a strike? No. Would I move my convention? Not possible. I explained to the woman on the other end of the phone how Bouchercon worked, what was involved and, the next morning got on the phone with the hotel. I was given a pretty detailed description of what was going on, and for anyone who, like myself still believes in the concept of “ONE BIG UNION”, please feel free to e-mail if you’d like more information than you’re about to get right here or a copy of the NLRB’s letter of dismissal.

The employees are not on strike. They are working without a current contract. A direct result of the mast head changing.

1. Are employees of the Sheraton paying Union dues? The Sheraton hotel is not deducting dues from paychecks. They do not know if individuals are continuing to pay dues to the union.

2. How many contracts have been offered? The Sheraton hotel has had a comprehensive proposal on the table since July 2006.

3. Has the contract been voted on? The Union has told the Sheraton hotel that the members have voted on the proposal once. However, the Union has not provided any proof that this occurred. The Sheraton hotel has urged the Union to revote the proposal and accept it. The Union can accept this proposal at any time.

4. Has any employee lost their job due to the current situation? No employee has lost their job due to negotiations nor anything related to the negotiations.

5. What’s going on with the NLRB(National Labor Relations Board)? The NLRB recently dismissed the Union claim that the company bargained in bad faith; in effect, the NLRB ruled that the hotel has acted lawfully. The NLRB dismissed the Union’s claim.

With four month’s to go until we all hit the ground we sincerely hope the labor issue can be resolved.

Why am I interrupting your weekend with this news? Our membership and in many instances the people they work for or with are getting e-mails and now phone calls and even home visits. These e-mails and phone calls are not from hotel workers. These e-mails and phone calls are not even from Union Members. You are being contacted by an independent company hired by the union to invade your privacy.

We need to give you a head’s up and ask for your help. If you are contacted and are willing to share the e-mail and or phone conversation with us please either e-mail the above address or DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS POST. This company is very good at finding people; with an e-mail address they will have you.

The Sheraton has been very open with me about this labor dispute. Workers have talked to me. The only point of the triangle shrouding itself in secrecy is the Union, UNITE HERE. When I told them that moving the convention was not an option but I’d like to hear their concerns, I was given no answers simply escalated harassment.

The woman in charge of this campaign is Carrie Sallgren. She can be reached at 410-659-2191. This is her work phone.

UNITE HERE can be found at . Unite Here has a fairly good record as unions go although they have used dirty tactics like this in the past .

Again, your two chairs hope you will share any uncomfortable experiences with us through email. We hope that if you have questions you’ll feel free to e-mail us, contact UNITE HERE, or the Sheraton in Baltimore. Our biggest hope is that all sides are expending as much energy in resolving the contract negotiations as they are on us. With four months to go and after two years, it’s high time this situation was resolved. We are not willing to break the law, dismiss contracts signed in good faith, or jeopardize Bouchercon to do this.


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