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CMG pulls out of INPUT conference

The national executive of the Canadian Media Guild has decided to withdraw all support for the INPUT public-media conference being held May 1 to 6 in San Francisco. The Guild is honouring a boycott of the venue hotel called by a large international union.

As a result, we will not be issuing grants to our members to attend the conference this year. The three Guild members who won $1,000 in CMG’s lottery will be able to claim their prize to attend next year’s conference.

The CMG is also urging anyone planning to attend the conference to honour the boycott and cancel their registration.

The boycott was called by UNITE-HERE, the union representing hotel workers across North America. It has been trying to negotiate a contract since August for workers at 14 San Francisco hotels, including the Hilton where INPUT will take place. According to the union, 128 organizations have moved their events out of the disputed hotels since October.

The boycott is UNITE-HERE Local 2’s last hope at getting a contract for 4,000 hotel workers. The workers were locked out for seven weeks last fall, but went back to work when the mayor intervened. No new negotiating dates are scheduled and another lockout is being threatened. One of the key issues in bargaining is the proposal by hotel owners to cut off health care for 600 workers.

“We feel we cannot in any way support an event that could hurt workers’ ability to get a deal,” says Lise Lareau, president of the CMG. “While we understand INPUT is in the middle of a messy situation, as a union involved in several difficult sets of contract talks, we must support others in the same situation.”

The Independent Television Service, which funds and presents documentaries and dramas on public television, is the host of this year’s INPUT. About 2,000 people are expected to attend the event.

Conference organizers say they would have to forfeit more than US $600,000 in cancellation fees if they backed out of their contract with the Hilton. ITVS president Sally Jo Fifer says the situation is “like a natural disaster. We’re sick about it.”

For more information, contact the Guild (guild@interlog.com) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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