For the past 15 or so years, the Taxation Section of the State Bar of California holds an annual educational meeting, either in the Bay Area or San Diego. While the Bay Area venue is typically downtown San Francisco on two of those occasions, the meeting was held in San Jose, once hastily moved without a lot of advance notice. Now if you're going to hold a convention type event in the Bay Area, why would you choose San Jose (no offense intended, but what is there to do in San Jose?) over San Francisco. The choice of San Jose was never explained, but I eventually figured it out. On both occasions there were actual or threatened labor actions against San Francisco hotels by union hotel workers, involving possible boycotts of those hotels. Now between you and me, I doubt if many tax attorneys are passionate in their support of hotel workers against the hotels, or for that matter, if they particularly care about the issues being disputed. So why was the meeting chased off to San Jose? Because the State Bar of California is an appendage of the government of the state of California, and as such cannot afford to make waves with organized labor, which is highly influential in this state.
So I just received my notice of this year's California tax bar meeting, and to my surprise (and chagrin, since whether it's held in San Francisco or San Jose, I stay in San Francisco because Mrs. Chandavkl loves to explore the City when I'm at the meeting), I find this November's meeting is being held in San Jose. Now I didn't know that the San Francisco hotel workers and hotels were fighting again, but I assumed something must be afoot. This was confirmed when I walked by the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco earlier this month and heard a crowd of chanting demonstrators yelling something like "If you go in, you're not our friend." A subsequent Google search confirmed indeed that there is another San Francisco hotel boycott in progress. The hotel workers are angling for a pay increase, somewhat baffling given the state of the economy, particularly in a tourist driven economy like San Francisco's. The rationale of the union's leader is that hotel occupancy is up significantly from the depths of the financial meltdown, so the hotel workers should share in this bonanza. Except that in the same time period, while hotel occupancy in San Francisco is up, room rates have declined so much to more than offset the higher occupancy, meaning that gross hotel revenues are even lower than ever. Indeed, even some members of the labor movement don't understand this one, and the head of the hotel workers union is facing some internal flack over his position.
So do I know the way to San Jose? Yup, 45 miles each way from and to San Francisco, each day of the meeting.