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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Norwescon Saturday: Report Four

posted by on March 22 at 20:00 PM

Things are not all peaches and cream at Norwescon. There are a few rumbles of dischord here at the convention. The main issue has to do with the DoubleTree hotel employees, who have been working without a contract for a few months. The union has the hotel on their boycott list, and many of the convention-goers are wearing buttons and putting pro-union stickers in the weirdest places—there was one on the underside of my bar table, which maybe wasn’t the most effective placement for pro-labor propaganda—to protest the hotel management.

Secondly, and more importantly to the general convention-goer: The hotel is cracking down on parties. People have been informed that security has been increased, and that the hotel will be cracking down on loud parties. A lot of parties have moved to other hotels in protest, including a gnome-sponsored party and The Party at the End of the Universe.

Likewise, people are complaining about the turgidness of the programming: This is the first year that Lovecraft-themed panels have been allowed, for instance, and the horror fans feel seriously underrepresented. There is talk of a shadow convention, running alongside the convention, in future years. Even in sci-fi future, it seems, there is difficulty.

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A fucking Ghostbuster? If that's not at the bottom of the nerd pecking order, I don't know what would be. Might as well be dressed up like Martin Landau in Space: 1999.

Posted by bma | March 22, 2008 11:47 PM

I went to my 8th grade graduation in the ecto mobile. I am very proud of that. Mostly that I talked some guy into giving me and my friends a ride to graduation in the freakin ecto mobile. I would NEVER be seen in public now in anything ghost busters though. Yikes.

Posted by opus | March 23, 2008 12:11 AM

A gnome sponsored party, huh?

Well, I'd imagine that it might be interesting if they were tinker gnomes.

(letting my nerdosity slip out slowly so as not to frighten everyone)

Posted by Packratt | March 23, 2008 12:27 AM

What is this, the fucking EIGHTH post on this social retard convention? Are you quite through?

Posted by croydonfacelift | March 23, 2008 1:18 AM

Question one : Why were you on the underside of your bar table?

Question two : Why have these post gone from "hey I'm at Norwescon and LOVING IT" from "hey I'm at Norwescon and look at what all these other people are doing...gnome-sponsored I right?"

Posted by Lindsey | March 23, 2008 1:28 AM

gee, i'll wear a fucking pro-union button on my ass, but i won't let it ruin my geeky need to play dress-up before halloween and traipse around in a scab hotel. not on your life. get real.

Posted by misrule | March 23, 2008 8:24 AM

Misrule, It's one of the very few hotels in Seattle that is actually a union hotel, so it's not a "scab" hotel. Besides, The employees aren't striking - they are just without a contract.

It would be nice if we had more union hotels. They tend to be better run with more experienced employees. But hotels don't want to pay the wages, and they don't want older employees. They'd rather just have some clowns they can string along for a few years.

If you want to talk scab hotels, look no further than the shiny new downtown Sheraton. Or the Olympic. Or the Hyatt....

Posted by Pick your scabs.... | March 23, 2008 9:01 AM

You can name plenty of nonunion hotels, but I can name plenty of union hotels. Fact is, the convention chose one of the only TWO hotels on UNITE HERE Local 8's "Do Not Patronize" list, and that's pathetic disregard for the livelihood and wellbeing of hotel workers.

Why is the Stranger so utterly opposed to labor? It will post videos with fond comments of Malcolm X, of Martin Luther King, Jr,. It will even Suggest the mediocre Chicago 10 movie--but god forbid it involve Stranger staff walk off Pike/Pine, because labor rallies aren't cool hipsters with skinny jeans. They're populated by working class people, and I have a feeling that has something to do with it.

That said, here's a patronize/do not patronize list of hotels in the Puget Sound region:

Posted by tt | March 23, 2008 9:44 AM

I work for a union hotel (though not in a union position myself) and in my opinion it is certainly better run and our employees are more experienced... except that has absolutely nothing to do with the union. Unite Here is excellent at staging protests and preying upon the insecurities of non-English speaking employees, but are shit when it comes to actually doing anything for them.

Posted by 10th Floor | March 23, 2008 9:50 AM

"Non-English speaking immigrants?" Oh, you must mean the ILLEGALS. I have a quick, easy solution to that problem: send their wetback asses back where they came from.

Posted by Elvis | March 23, 2008 10:34 AM

Norwescon has been at that hotel for years. Hotel mgts, hotel owners and hotel names come and go. The convention is one community tradition that carries on over time.

A fan-run con is not an easy event to fit into the life of a hotel that runs on business trips and airline personnel lay-overs; the SF fans running such a con cannot just pick up and move to another hotel of their choice. Maybe many years ago that was possible; but this is the post-80s Material World and SF fans are not necessarily the most sought-after patrons. They don't travel on expense accounts and their ability to maintain a sense of wonder -- with all the exotic manifestations that such wonder inspires -- often frightens the less imaginative patrons.

At least the SF fans are aware of the labor disputes, and their actions end up getting the attention of (and mention by) a reporter to a newspaper. That is a Good Thing. Now more people know about the problem than did before, which is one small victory.

In the meantime, the tradition continues, which also is valuable.

Posted by Maggie | March 23, 2008 1:25 PM

"Unite Here is excellent at staging protests and preying upon the insecurities of non-English speaking employees, but are shit when it comes to actually doing anything for them."

Because immigrants have no agency themselves... but yes, UNITE does put on a hell of a party at demonstrations. There's nothing quite like walking through a convention chanting and seeing a worker smile and raise their fist...

As for "doing nothing" for them, the last contract signed at these very do-not-patronize hotels gave covered employees over $3.00/hr wages and benefits raises.

Posted by tt | March 23, 2008 4:05 PM

If the convention staff had attempted to move the con to a different hotel when the union brought it to there attention it would have bankrupted the convention.

Posted by SM | March 26, 2008 11:47 AM

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