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Fwd: Re: Advice of SF Labor Lawyer on AAA Contract

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  • naftalyp@sunyacc.edu
    ... Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2004 18:17:18 -0500 From: Kamala Visweswaran Reply-To: Kamala Visweswaran Subject: Re:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 23 8:01 PM
      ----- Forwarded message from Kamala Visweswaran <kvis@...> -----
      Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2004 18:17:18 -0500
      From: Kamala Visweswaran <kvis@...>
      Reply-To: Kamala Visweswaran <kvis@...>
      Subject: Re: Advice of SF Labor Lawyer on AAA Contract
      To: Hugh Gusterson <guster@...>, Erica James <ejames@...>,
      cwalley@..., jjacjkson@..., jhowe@..., dumit@...,
      mfischer@..., ssly@..., ssilbey@..., paxson@..., sgh2@...,
      phaney@..., anthro-general@..., Paulect69@...,

      Dear Colleagues,

      I hestitate to share the following after the fact, but do so at the urging
      of others who, like yourselves, were not be knowledgeable about one of the
      options I believe the AAA Executive Board did not have time to fully
      consider. I do not know how strict yesterday's Oct 22 deadline was, but if
      there was any flexibility, I think the AAA Executive Board might have made
      more time to consider the information I provided Liz Brumfiel and Bill
      Davis with yesterday afternoon.

      1) On Oct. 21 I contacted a nationally reknowned and internationally known
      labor lawyer I have worked for the last 12 months on two different (labor
      and human rights) cases. This lawyer has argued labor cases in the Supreme
      Court and won Public Interest Law's Litigator of the year Award for his
      role as one of the lead attorneys in the landmark Doe v. Gap sweatshops case.

      2) On the morning of Oct. 23 the laywer e-mailed back to say that he could
      work in a quick conference call to consult on this matter. I phoned and
      left messages with both Liz Brumfiel and Bill Davis asking whether there
      was any chance that they could join the call; I also e-mailed them and let
      them know that this lawyer thought AAA could minimize financial loss if the
      contract was broken. At about 12:45 CST I spoke with the lawyer who said
      (based on the AAA description of the terms of contract):

      -- San Francisco is a pro-labor town, and in the event of any litigation,
      the verdict would likely be in favor of labor.
      -- He thought we could make a case for breaking the contract based on a)
      newspaper reports of spotty service and most importantly b) that any
      guest's implicit contract with a hotel is based on the idea that a
      peaceful, stress-free environment would be provided. The presence of noisy
      picketers in a labor dispute which the hotel had escalated from a strike
      into a lockout severely compromises the hotel's ability to provide this
      basic service.

      --The lawyer however, advised us to negotiate a "walkout fee" based on the
      AAA being able to show that a majority of its members would stay away from
      the venue, so that the hotel would not make anywhere close to 1.2 million.
      By negotiating a walkaway fee of perhaps $100,000 with a month remaining
      for the scheduled meetings, the hotel would have a chance to recoup its
      bookings from normal tourism. This lawyer has successfully negotiated such
      a walkway fee in another hotel labor dispute a couple of years ago. He
      offered his services at a reasonable fee to serve as outside counsel, and
      stressed that he would need to read the contract before making a clear

      3) I communicated the results of this conversation to Liz Brumfiel and Bill
      Davis at about 1:45/2 pm CST. After I sent this msg, I noticed that I had
      received at 1:41 an e-mail from Liz Brumfiel in response to the first msg.
      thanking me for providing the contact with the lawyer which she thought
      would be useful in case of a suit. I received no response from the second,
      or third e-mails sent to her and Bill Davis regarding the specifics of the
      lawyer's advice.

      The letter the AAA sent out yesterday at 5: 44 pm EST makes it seem as if
      there were no reasonable legal alternatives to an implied suit by the
      Hilton. In fact, it seems clear that with a skilled labor lawyer, the
      Hilton would have been on the defensive, the AAA could've negotiated a
      minimal walkout fee that could have been absorbed by raising the membership
      fee by $5-$10 for one year, and our principles would have been intact.
      Instead, not only has the AAA decided to give the Hilton its business, but
      we have been made complicit with its union-busting tactics.

      I wish I had been able to reach this lawyer in a more timely fashion. While
      it is possible the AAA made a bad decision, it may also be the case that it
      made the best decision based on the information it had. It is quite
      possible the rest of the AAA Executive Board did not know alternate legal
      advice was available, and/or that Liz and Bill didn't have enough time to
      deliberate on this, and/or that the deadline of October 22 had some legal
      implication with the Hilton of which I'm unaware. So this e-mail should not
      be construed as criticism of either Liz or Bill, to whom I will forward
      this e-mail. Given the fact that the AAA has now been set for dates in
      December (again at the convenience of the Hilton, and not that of the AAA),
      I am not sure whether it is feasible to revisit the decision that the AAA
      has reached with much thought and deliberation, but perhaps without
      adequate proactive legal advice. So I wanted to share this with those of
      you who have been following the issue, in case any of you think it makes
      sense to pursue this further with the AAA Executive Board.

      If so, I will be happy to share the e-mails I sent to Liz Brumfiel and
      Bill Davis if appropriate; and also to put you directly in touch with this
      labor lawyer who has impeccable integrity and is more than willing to help
      if we ask him to.

      With best wishes,



      ----- End forwarded message -----

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