Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bouchercon News Worth Repeating

At Central Crime Zone Jon Jordan reported on a group that is, essentially, harassing authors planning to attend Bouchercon this fall by spreading incorrect information that the convention has been cancelled.

A more extensive explanation can be found on the Bouchercon blog,provided by Ruth Jordan.

In my experience, legitimate strikes involve picket lines with employees off the job. I have recently been to the Sheraton, to park there while downtown, and there is no picket line to cross. My impression is that everything is running smoothly at the Sheraton. Although I do not need to stay there for the convention, I have no cause for concern for those who will be staying there, or for the success of the convention. It seems clear to me that if there is a problem with the convention, it will be because of the harassment of the members of this group.

I mean, they're calling people up and telling them the convention is cancelled? Oh, I almost hope they decide to phone me...

Anyway, Bouchercon is on, and it's less than four months away, so if you haven't booked yet, you should.


Gonzalo B said...


I read about this last night. I looked for information in Google and it seems this is not a strike, but a boycott over a contract dispute between the workers and management:

Austin Carr said...

Can't think of a better way to generate publicity than to harrass writers. :-)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Gonzalo, I'm afraid that doesn't get my sympathy. Maybe it's being Canadian, maybe the fact that we have our ways of going about getting public support without this kind of invasion of privacy, I don't know. This just isn't the way the game is played in my experience, and if the employees are behind this, they're going about it the wrong way.

I mean, showing up on people's doorsteps? Phone calls are bad enough, but nobody wants to show up at my home. They'll be asked once to leave, then I'll phone the police.

Austin, all it's inspired from me is sympathy for the Sheraton and the people who've been on the receiving end of the harassment.

Gonzalo B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gonzalo B said...

Hi Sandra,

Thanks for your reply. I didn't post the link to inspire sympathy. I just wanted to add some context to your post. It seemed to me you were implying that the people behind these alleged actions belonged to some unknown and unexplainably malicious group instead of a well-known union representing the hotel workers who've been without a contract for nearly two years.

Have any potential attendees been called or visited by these people or is that just a rumor? I am not taking sides here because I don't know all the details but the automatically hostile reaction against the union exhibited by some people has really surprised me. It was only a few months ago that many writers in the crime fiction community were cheering for the SWA in its struggle against the film studios. Why is it that now they are dismissing the claims of another union who is also fighting for its members without hearing what they have to say? I read the Bouchercon post you linked to and it seemed to me it was repeating some of the hotel management's claims verbatim.

Sandra said...

Hi Gonzalo,

I know nothing about this organization, other than their behaviour, which I consider to be inappropriate. They may very well be considered respectable by others, but I don't think their course of action over speaks well for them.

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever if Ruth says that people have been contacted in writing, by phone, and with people showing up at their homes, that this is true. I've known Ruth a long time and if she says it happened, then it did.

I'm the type of person who hates telemarketing, door to door sales, having people try to get me to try samples in the mall... I don't like "in your face" anything. It is my feeling that if staff have an issue they should go on strike. Many people will respect that course of action and not cross a picket line. However, I'm not going to feel bullied over where I do business, particularly for an event of this nature. B'con is a complex event, the planning for each one goes on for years, and I'm going for business reasons. The Sheraton is being used because it has the facilities needed.

Honestly, if I took up arms over every time someone had an issue with a business, I couldn't shop anywhere. At this time, I'm unaware of any wrongdoing on the part of the Sheraton, but I am aware of this group bullying people attending this convention. I'm simply stating they've gone about this the wrong way. Whether or not they had a legitimate cause is redundant now, because they've acted in a way that's inappropriate, in my opinion.

And that doesn't elicit sympathy on my part.

Gonzalo B said...


I couldn’t doubt Ruth or anyone else’s word because I don’t know her personally nor anyone else from the parties involved. I wasn’t trying to question her credibility. I was wondering if there were any specific examples of people being harassed.

Just like you, I don’t take well to telemarketers or even religious people trying to convert me by knocking on my door. I don’t think, however, that trying to raise awareness of a contract dispute is the same as telemarketing unless these people are being genuinely obnoxious about it. Who knows, that might as well be the case.

I understand that you can’t boycott every business that does something wrong. In Bouchercon’s case, that’s even more difficult because the organizers have probably already signed contracts, booked rooms for guests, etc. Having said that, I still think that we are ignoring one party’s story in this dispute and that’s regardless of the allegedly obnoxious phone calls, visits, etc.

As for your claim that staff could simply go on strike, I disagree. Striking is usually a weapon of last resort so I guess they have to use other options first. These people don’t make much money in the first place and I don’t think they can afford to strike for long. This is probably all the pressure they can exert and it’s not as if what they are doing is substantially different from what the screenwriters did a while back by trying to dissuade celebrity guests from going to the talk shows.