Monday, August 22, 2016

California Climate Change Conferences in Flux

This will not be news to people registered for the California Climate Adaptation Forum, but bystanders might be interested to know:

The California Climate Change Symposium "Science to Safeguard California" that was to be held Tues. Sept. 6 at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, the same hotel where the California Adaptation Forum (CAF) will be held Sept. 7-8, has been rescheduled and relocated. It will be held in Sacramento on January 25-26, 2017.

The reason for the above change is that it was being organized by state entities (California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research) and there is a labor dispute at the host hotel that has led to all state employees, who are union members, being told to stay away from this hotel. This is a paraphrasing of something passed on to me a few weeks ago by an employee of the California Coastal Conservancy (who was trying to figure out a work-around, such as attending as a private individual, with no luck).

The organizer of the CAF, the Local Government Commission (LGC), is a non-profit and not a union shop, so the CAF is going forward despite state employee withdrawal from participation.

A friend who is not a union member but who has qualms about potentially crossing a picket line contacted the LGC about the labor dispute, and was sent this reply on Aug. 12 indicating some ways she might engage with the negotiation process (the text links are as sent in the e-mail):

The hotel staff is not on strike, there is an organized campaign by UNITE HERE [Local 11] to raise awareness of labor issues and to pressure the hotel to allow them to unionize using a card check neutrality process. The campaign includes a protest outside the hotel on some days. We have more information here on a web page  we setup on the situation so that everyone could know what was happening. 
In terms of updates, we are still in active discussions with representatives from UNITE HERE about ways to further engage during our event and to use our presence as a means to engage with hotel management on their concerns. We are currently developing a letter to the hotel management and owners describing how their actions have affected our event specifically, and at the request of some partners have created a template for anyone who wants to provide their own feedback to the hotel. We are talking with UNITE HERE about following-up with this letter by bringing a delegation to management during the event to ask them to allow the card-check neutrality process to go forward and are potentially going to try to get a news piece to cover the situation during the event.
If you are interested in any of these activities please let me know. Don't hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions or concerns.
Kif Scheuer
Climate Change Program Director
Local Government Commission

So far it looks like the UNITE HERE Local 11 campaign will not be resolved in time for state employees to participate at the California Adaptation Forum. That, plus what I've heard about the approved workshops, makes this a gathering with a strong emphasis on private, local community groups. It will be interesting to see what unfolds!

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