ASA in Las Vegas update: union reaches deal with Chicago Hilton hotels

The American Sociological Association conference was moved earlier this year to Las Vegas. This was done because the Hilton chain in Chicago did not have a deal with the union of hotel workers. The Chicago Tribune reports today that Hilton “is the first major hotel chain” to reach a deal with the union after 18 months without a contract in place.

I know the ASA had to make a decision at some point and couldn’t wait around for the hotels and unions to reach a deal. Even though Chicago would have been an excellent location, Las Vegas should be fun in its own way.

Las Vegas Sun reports on ASA move to Las Vegas

Last week, the American Sociological Association announced that the 2011 Annual Meetings have officially been moved to Las Vegas from Chicago. This news made it into the tourism column in the Las Vegas Sun with some interesting commentary:

The public usually doesn’t have many kind things to say about unions because of the labor disruptions they can produce. But here’s an instance in which union tactics are playing in Las Vegas’ favor.

Last week, the American Sociological Association announced that it’s going to have its 106th annual meeting at Caesars Palace Aug. 20-23. The reason: A protracted labor dispute involving two Chicago hotels is showing no sign of resolution and the American Sociological Association Council opted against taking a chance that it wouldn’t be solved by August…

It’ll be the first time that the association has met in Las Vegas, and members seem delighted, not only because for the first time since 1990 the organization with 5,000 attendees will be able to conduct its event under one roof but because sociologists find Las Vegas to be interesting laboratory.

“Not only is Las Vegas vibrant and fascinating from a sociological perspective, but it’s also easily accessible for our members across the country,” Hillman said. “When we decided to move our meeting from Chicago, we put an emphasis on finding an alternate location that offered optimum convenience for our members. By selecting Las Vegas and Caesars Palace, we believe we’ve achieved that goal.”

Workers at Caesars Palace have union contracts, but they don’t expire until 2012.

LVCVA representatives have to be happy with the association’s decision, since it’s wanted to get more medical groups to give Las Vegas a try.

The next goal should be to work hard with the association to convince leadership to keep the event here. If the event shows a healthy attendance increase from previous years, the group would have to think twice about returning to Chicago.

A couple of things strike me as interesting in this report:

1. So the sociological meetings can be written off as a research trip? Las Vegas is a fascinating place and it will be interesting to see all of the sociologists out on the town. But most sociological work I have read about Las Vegas, mainly in the field of urban sociology, has been negative. Las Vegas is described as a simulacrum, a fake place that illustrates the worst of American consumption. Perhaps the convention people in Las Vegas don’t care what a group says about a place as long as they are willing to spend money there.

2. Is this report suggesting that sociology is somehow related to medicine?

3. Did the reporter look at how ASA rotates its annual meetings between certain cities? I would be shocked if the meetings are in Las Vegas again next year, not because it is a bad place or has poor facilities but because ASA seems to like to move around.

PhD comics tackles sociology and Comic-Con

PhD Comics spent three days this past weekend exploring Comic-Con. On day three, Jorge Cham followed sociologist Dan Perkel as he conducted ethnographic interviews with comic artists. According to the comic strip, here is Perkel’s explanation of what sociology is:

Sociology is not about defining what’s “normal.” It’s about getting different people’s perspective. You listen to them, and you find patterns. We each live in a different social world. And each of our experiences are different.

A reasonable explanation for three panels of a comic strip, particularly the part about finding patterns.

Also, I wonder about the initial responses to Perkel’s greeting: “Hi, I’m a sociologist. Can I ask you a few questions?”