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January 30, 2010


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Thanks for bringing up this issue, Matt, and for the link to CM's v. good post.
"Would, as Chris thinks, cancelling your reservation in such circumstances constitute taking sides with the union?" I would think so, if the dispute is your reason to cancel it.
"Is there anything one can do that wouldn’t
constitute taking a side?" Proceeding as before, without defending either side.

Perhaps perfect neutrality would require canceling your reservation for half of the nights originally booked, dividing your time between the boycotted hotel and one that is union approved.

There's another preliminary question that might be mentioned here, although perhaps it shouldn't be discussed until Matt's original questions have been thoroughly discussed. (I don't mean to "threadjack" Matt.) This is whether there is any ethical relevance to the difference between a boycott and a strike.

I'm puzzled that so few have commented on this thread. My perception - and perhaps it was an inaccurate one - was that a lot of APA members felt fairly strongly that they had a kind of moral obligation not to support the Westin St. Francis in light of the union's boycott. I guess my post assumed that most of these individuals - like I - lacked much specific information regarding the particular details of the dispute, and so that their judgment was based on a kind of presumptive reasoning. I'm curious to know what the nature of that reasoning is - or if I was wrong about my assumption that people do judge themselves to have a moral obligation to support the union (or to not support the hotel) in this particular case.


I think we should support unions because on the whole stronger unions make our society better and more just. For this reason, even when I don't have a whole lot of information about a particular issue, I'll tend to side with Labor if I have to take sides.

One minor philosophical point: I'm not saying anybody has a moral obligation to do anything in particular here. I'm just explaining (and attempting to justify) my own tendencies.

I think Dale's question is interesting, too. My view is that a boycott is significantly different from a strike. The main reason is that when a union strikes, they (I mean their membership) are putting a lot on the line; they are bearing a large sacrifice, and thus demonstrating that the issues at stake are very important to them. I am more willing to go to a bunch of trouble (swallow the cost of canceling a reservation, say, or move a session to an off-site location that's bound to have very low attendance) to avoid crossing a picket line of striking workers than to honor a boycott.

I'd like to add that I had no plans to attend the Pacifics this year, and, more importantly, that I don't do ethics.

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