by Kaylee Hultgren | March 03, 2010

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau board sent a letter to Mike Casey, head of the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 2, reprimanding him for discouraging trade groups and professional organizations from meeting in San Francisco. In recent months, many of the city's hotels, including the Grand Hyatt, the San Francisco Hilton and the W San Francisco, have been the site of pickets and protests in support of contracts with lower health-care costs for hotel workers. Workers have been without a contract since last August. In January, a San Francisco Chronicle article written by Steve Falk, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of the SFCVB, said that by last November, more than 1,800 San Francisco hotel employees had lost work shifts due to rolling actions called by the union and that nearly 80,000 fewer hotel room nights were expected to be booked this year compared with last year. "As our city continues to suffer from lost tourism and business travel due to the recession, we should add no more insult to injury with labor strikes and contract delays in an industry that offers one of our best opportunities for economic recovery," they said. D'Allessandro told M&C, "The bureau is not taking sides, but Unite Here has resorted to tactics that we consider objectionable and that go against our bylaws and mission, such as contacting meeting planners who are coming to San Francisco and discouraging them from meeting at certain hotels. This has caused confusion among some of our key clients and customers, who assume that there are disruptions in meetings when in fact it's business as usual. The misinformation spread by the union could be damaging. We are very supportive of our hotel workers; they are the backbone of our industry. But our customers and planners are key clients have expressed key concern about these tactics." If the union does not refrain from using these tactics, says D'Allessandro, the bureau may revoke Unite Here Local 2's membership in the CVB. The union could not be reached for comment.