SAN FRANCISCO -- As the labor dispute drags on between unionized hotel workers and 14 large hotels here, the city lost its first big convention group.

The American Anthropological Association moved its annual meeting, slated for this month, from the San Francisco Hilton to the Atlanta Hilton.

The move deprives San Francisco of 5,300 visitors who would have spent an estimated $3 million in the city, according to the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A bureau spokeswoman said the association rebooked for San Francisco next year. The association is the only canceling group that was scheduled to use the citys convention center.

The bureau does not track cancellations at individual hotels, but the spokeswoman said, Anecdotally we dont think there has been a lot of cancellations. One reason may be that hotels have pretty strict cancellation policies.

There is also the possibility that travelers havent canceled trips to San Francisco but -- if they do not want to cross picket lines -- have moved to other hotels in the city, she said.

A spokeswoman for the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, which represents the hotels, said there have been no cancellations of groups and meetings at hotels because of the labor action.

And, she said, There has been no significant impact on occupancy.

But Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which owns 18 nonunion boutique hotels in San Francisco, said he believes his company has picked up some business, although its impossible to know how many people are booking with Joie de Vivre because of the labor dispute.

But we have heard from some of our guests that they moved over to our hotels, he said.

The labor dispute started on Sept. 29 as a two-week work stoppage but escalated on Oct. 13 when the hotels locked out their 4,000 unionized employees.

The hotels are refusing to allow them to work until the union abandons its demand for a two-year contract that would coincide with a negotiating cycle with hotel workers in six other cities and in Hawaii.

The spokeswoman for the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group said replacement workers and management have been trained to fill in as room-service waiters and other roles. Service levels have improved considerably since the first days of the strike, she maintained.

However, some hotel restaurants continue to offer buffets instead of full-menu service, and some may not be offering room service. Travelers who are concerned should check with individual hotels for services that have been impacted, the spokeswoman said.

The dispute is between Unite Here Local 2 and the following hotels: The Argent, the Crown Plaza Union Square, the Fairmont, the Four Seasons, the Grand Hyatt, the Hilton, the Holiday Inn Civic Center, the Holiday Inn Express Fishermans Wharf, the Holiday Inn at Fishermans Wharf, the Palace Hotel, the Hyatt Regency, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, the Omni and the Westin St. Francis.

To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].

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