Reworking/Rethinking the University

Two Conferences at the University of Minnesota, April 11-13th, 2008; April 24-26, 2009

Guidelines for honoring labor disputes and boycotts


I’m seeking information on academic organizations that have honored boycotts and workers’ strikes by breaking hotel contracts, or shown solidarity by other means during a conference. This information would contribute to a discussion currently underway among members of the National Communication Association. 


In response to 1) the current boycott on the Manchester Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, and 2) a workers’ strike at the same hotel organized by UNITE HERE, members of the National Communication Association, which is holding its annual convention at that hotel in November, have called for NCA to adopt a formal set of guidelines for convention planning. Those guidelines outline how NCA will respond to labor disputes in the future and advocates support of green initiatives whenever possible. It is modeled on similar guidelines adopted by other academic organizations, all listed below.

Does anyone know of any other similar initiatives, or of similar efforts to rethink the planning of large scale academic conventions? Do any academic organizations offer carbon offsetting credits as part of their conference registration? Have those organizations referenced university labor, equal opportunity, and diversity policies to leverage support for unionized hotels and boycotts of states with discriminatory laws? What has been the general response to such initiatives within these organizations? Did any academic organizations respond to the the 2007 strike at the University of Minnesota?

Many thanks for your help!

Kathleen McConnell


The following is the proposed Resolution for Convention Site Locating & Planning drafted by Phaedra Pezzullo and available here: 


Resolved, that the National Communication Association (NCA) convention staff and organizers endorse locating and planning its annual convention based on the following standards:

(a) NCA will continue to rotate sites regionally in the U.S. to keep the convention more affordable to the widest range of participants.

(b) NCA will continue to give preference to settings with major national airports to keep the convention more affordable to the widest range of participants.

(c) NCA will continue to give preference to meeting sites that involve contiguous properties such that the community is not dispersed and the distance does not become too cumbersome to travel.

(d) NCA will continue to work with hotel partners to assure accessibility to facilities, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. 

(e) NCA will continue to value affordable costs as a priority in choosing locations and timing of the conference.

(f) NCA will include the following escape clause in all its hotel and service provider contracts:
“NCA reserves the right of termination of this agreement, without penalty or liability, if the site, hotel owner, chain, service provider, the municipal government, or the state in which the hotel is located establishes or enforces laws or publicly endorses or contributes funds to causes that, in the estimation of NCA, abridge the civil rights or advocate discrimination of any NCA member on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, physical handicap, disability, or religion. NCA also reserves its right to withdraw from this agreement, without penalty or liability, if a labor dispute or other organized protest arises such that attendees will not be compelled to cross picket lines or violate a boycott.” 

(g) NCA strongly prefers locations where legal rights are afforded to same-sex unions and partnerships.

(h) NCA strongly prefers meeting facilities and service providers whose staff are represented by a union. NCA will not book conventions at hotels or with service providers that have ongoing labor disputes. 

(i) NCA strongly prefers meeting facilities located in areas with living wage ordinances.

(j) NCA strongly prefers facilities that either accommodate or provide secure daycare at a reasonable cost.

(k) NCA strongly prefers hotel venues and service providers that have taken steps to become more environmentally sustainable, such as reducing carbon impact or energy conservation programs.

(l) NCA will make available and publicize voluntary options for members to reduce the carbon footprint of their attendance, as well as other voluntary acts individual members may take to make the convention more environmentally sustainable.


– the 1995 NCA Policy on Diversity

– the 2006 NCA Statement on Labor Disputes

– the following professional acadmic associations already have similiar policies in place:

* American Political Science Association (APSA): 

* Modern Language Association (MLA) (provided by Director of Convention Programs, available on request)

* American Studies Association (ASA):

* Organization of American Historians (OAH):

* American Sociological Association (ASA):

* American Anthropological Association (AAA):

September 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. hi kathleen
    the Association for Asian American Studies honored a strike in LA in 2005 (i believe). you might want to contact them for more information as it did cause legal difficulties.

    also at the UMN, the berks history conference made a statement about not wanting to support the strike even though the conference was months afterwards.

    Comment by eliumn | September 30, 2008

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    I’m not sure if you know this already, but UNITE-HERE convened a
    coalition of professional organizations and meeting planners to
    provide such information. They seemed to have morphed into socially
    responsible event planning, but may still be a good place to look.


    Zach Schwartz-Weinstein
    American Studies

    Comment by eliumn | September 30, 2008

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