The Communications Network Annual Conference

ComNet — The Communications Network annual conference. 


Labor Strike Update

We will keep you updated as developments warrant, and as we continue to consider the best means to respond. Here are the latest Frequently Asked Questions.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018 12:59 PM PT

I know we’ve been in touch with you quite a lot over the last few days — apologies for blowing up your inbox. Our goal has been to be clear, transparent, and forthright about what we know—and what we don’t—as quickly as possible. 

As of today, the national hotel workers strike continues in San Francisco and other cities around the country. Updates from labor and hotel decision-makers and recent media coverage tell us the strike will continue.

With ComNet18 starting Wednesday, we are moving our conference programming to new venues. These venues are just two blocks from the Westin St. Francis and within one block of each other.

Our commitment was to not cross a picket line or ask anyone else to do so to gain entry to our programs, and to respect the dignity of hotel workers exercising their voice and their power.

Over the last few days, the Board, the team, and I have been heartened to see our network spring to life, share information, and encourage us as we made alternate plans.

If this is what we can do from disparate places, imagine what we can accomplish when we’re together this week.

I can’t wait to see each of you Wednesday evening at our Opening Night Reception at the Exploratorium.


Our “Plan B” includes two new conference venues (click here for a map):

  • The Curran Theater at 445 Geary (between Taylor and Mason)

    • Keynotes, the Second Stage, our Thursday night reception, and LOCAL group meetups will happen at the Curran Theater.

  • The Hotel Nikko at 222 Mason (between Ellis and O’Farrell)

    • Registration, Pre-conference Workshops, Breakouts, and Dialogues will happen at the Hotel Nikko.

Our updated schedule will be available at and on the ComNet18 app shortly (please bear with us as we work to reflect these changes).

For now, please know that:

  • With a few exceptions, the timing of our sessions will remain the same.

  • We are still working on our plan for meals.

  • We have been unable to secure new room blocks in the city given high occupancy rates and timing.

    • We may find some space in the coming hours, but most likely these will be very small blocks.

    • For those booked into the Westin St. Francis, the hotel has assured us it is operational. You DO NOT have to cancel your room; the decision to move or not move is entirely up to you. Some of you may choose to move while others may be unable to move because of a lack of availability elsewhere or very high room rates.

    • If you wish to rebook your rooms, we recommend that you look to AirBnB, the HotelTonight app, or your preferred travel sites.

    • Local conference attendees may be opening up their homes as well, so please check the ComNet18 app for that (find it by searching “ComNet Annual Conference” in your app store).

In case you are looking for more details, we can share that these changes have also been made:

  • Our Burning Man “Pop Up” exhibit will be at the Curran Theater.

  • Headshot photography will take place at the Hotel Nikko.

  • Attendees will gather for Pre-Cons and Field Trips at the Hotel Nikko.

  • We recommend socializing and gathering in the lobby and bar of the Hotel Nikko.

Please continue to look for updates at, our conference app, #ComNet18 on Twitter and Instagram, and via email. We will post any needed changes as soon as possible.

If you have any other questions, please read our FAQs at or reach out to us at any time.

Finally, please hear this: THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Your patience, dedication, and notes of support as we navigated this process have been a real-time lesson in the power of networks and a testament to the strength and value of our network. So many of you have stepped forward in so many ways. I’d like to offer my humble and sincere thanks to The Network Board, our magnificent Community Group leaders, our stellar Host Committee, our generous and committed sponsors, and our truly inspiring team: Emma, Amy, Tristan, Yabby, Tracy, Chris, and Wendy have been working with little time and less sleep.

These folks, along with our many speakers and presenters, have spent the last year crafting a conference.

And it is going to be amazing. I promise.


Monday, October 8, 2018 3:48 PM PT

As promised, I wanted to update you on this week’s ComNet18 conference.

The situation remains fluid. We will make a determination on the location of all conference programming on Tuesday, October 9 at 2pm PT/5pm ET.

If we have any news sooner, we will update you by email, on the app, and on

I'm pleased to report we have a contingency plan in place that we are ready to execute should the national hotel workers strike remain unresolved. Please feel confident that as you are traveling to San Francisco, ComNet18 will be an amazing success and one hell of a story to tell! 

We are so appreciative of all the support we’ve received from attendees, speakers, and members around the country. As you saw, Cecile Richards reached out to all attendees this morning to let us know that she will be with us.

If you are wondering about hotel reservations, this is what we can tell you:

The Westin St. Francis has agreed to waive all cancellation penalties. You can cancel at any time, if you wish to do so. However, you DO NOT have to cancel your room; the decision to move or not move is entirely up to you. Some of you may choose to move while others may be unable to move because of a lack of availability elsewhere or very high room rates (we’ve seen $700 at some downtown locations).

We're working to find alternate accommodations. However, that's not a guarantee. If you would like to book a backup room—whether at another hotel, at an AirBnB, via the HotelTonight app, or a different option—please feel free to do so.

To recap, ComNet18 is happening. We will continue to send updates via email and you will know more about any venue or schedule changes by Tuesday, October 9 at 2pm PT/5pm ET.

We will be posting updates on our conference website at and our conference app. You also can follow #ComNet18 on Twitter.

If you have any other questions, please read our FAQs at or reach out to us at any time.

THANK YOU again for your continued patience.

Stay tuned!

mONDAY, oCTOBER 8, 11:41 AM PT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ComNet18 happening?

Absolutely, ComNet18 is happening. While it may not happen as originally planned, it’s going to be amazing.

What is happening with the strike at the Westin St. Francis?

There is a national hotel strike underway right now in San Francisco and many other cities across the country.  The Westin St. Francis is one of the hotels affected. We will not ask anyone to cross a picket line to participate in conference programming and our team is working around the clock to put together a “ComNet18 Plan B” right now.

What is ComNet18 Plan B?

We are working on it. Please check back to or the conference app frequently for conference updates. You can also follow #ComNet18 on social. We will make a decision on Plan B by Tuesday, October 9th at 2pm PST.

Should I cancel my accommodations at the Westin St. Francis?

Not necessarily – that decision is entirely up to you. Some of you may choose to move and others may be unable to move because of a lack of availability or high room rates (we’ve seen $700 at some downtown locations). We simply want to keep you looped into what is happening so you can make an informed decision on your own.

Will I be charged a cancellation fee for cancelling my reservations at the Westin St. Francis?

No. The Hotel Westin St. Francis has been exemplary and have generously agreed to waive all cancellation/penalties. You can cancel at any time -- if you wish to do so.

Will ComNet18 be providing alternative accommodations for those who choose to cancel their initial reservations at the Westin St. Francis?

We are trying. We cannot make any promises. The fact is, it may be impossible to relocate everyone booked into the Westin St. Francis in such a short period of time. We will do our best. Check back frequently to and our conference app for more updates.

If I choose not to attend ComNet18, will I receive a refund?

The conference is proceeding and simply moving locations. We will not offer refunds. Our refund period ended August 17th.  

When will a decision be made to move ComNet18 conference programming from the Westin St. Francis?

If necessary, we’ll make the decision to move conference programming by Tuesday, Oct. 9th at 2pm PST.

Will Plan B include food?

We know this is a question. We’ll have more information soon.

Where can I go to learn more about the strike and the new location for the conference?

We will contact you directly via email should there be a location change. Will also be posting updates on our website at and on our conference app. You can also follow #ComNet18 on social.

How do I get the ComNet18 app?

Search “ComNet Annual Conference” in either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Download the app and make a profile.

Monday, October 8, 2018 11:21 AM PT

Note From Cecile Richards About ComNet18:

I am so looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco later this week -- we certainly have a lot to talk about! 

As you've probably heard, there is an active labor strike at the original conference hotel.  The Network team is busy trying to figure out alternative locations for conference programming, including my keynote address to you on Friday morning.

I promise you I will be there, wherever "there" is, and I hope you will be too.

Safe travels, hope to see you on Friday. 

Note From Sean:

As you’ve hopefully heard in an email from me or through your Community Group leader, there is a national hotel strike underway right now in multiple cities including San Francisco.  The Westin St. Francis is one of the hotels affected.  Again, we want to assure you that ComNet18 is happening -- and while it may not happen as originally planned, it’s going to be amazing.  We will not ask anyone to a cross picket line to participate in conference programming and our team is working on a “ComNet18 Plan B” right now.  

We are making great progress so keep an eye on the website and app for updates. We’ve received your questions over the last few days and will be posting those answers on the website as well. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 8, 2018 8:00AM PT

Hey everyone - as you’ve hopefully heard in an email from me or from our ComNet18 website there is a national hotel strike under way at our San Francisco convention hotel.

Rest assured, ComNet18 will happen. But we may need to alter our plans. We will not ask anyone to cross picket lines to participate in our conference programming. Our extraordinary team is working on a “ComNet18 Plan B.”

Please keep an eye on your email for messages from The Network and our Community Group Leaders. We’ll also communicate via the app and on the #ComNet18 hashtag on social with updates.

Now many of you may be thinking about what this means for your hotel room. The St. Francis has generously agreed to waive all cancellation penalties. You can cancel at any time if you wish to do so. Our guidance is, unless you need to rebook (and if you haven’t traveled to San Francisco yet) please hang tight for now with your reservations as we hope the strike may pause/be resolved between now and Wednesday morning.

To be clear, I DO NOT KNOW THAT THE STRIKE WILL END (or when) for certain. We are working on trying to offer alternate lodging options for those who may want them. We know this may be a bit unsettling and we are grateful for your support as we live our values and honor the dignity of the workers on strike.

Please know ComNet18 will happen this week. Under the present circumstances we may not be able to deliver what we promised exactly as we promised it — but I can promise it will be amazing.



Saturday, October 6, 2018 7:40pm et

ComNet18 is upon us. It promises to be one of our best conferences yet. Many of you are traveling from across the globe to lead and join in great discussions that renew our enthusiasm for what we do and our network.
I want to make sure you are aware of a potential issue in our ComNet18 San Francisco plans.
Our conference hotel is one of several Marriott properties whose union workers went out on strike Thursday — part of a national dispute among the hospitality workers union and Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt hotels.
As we shared earlier, we’ve been in close contact with all the parties about the issues and how long the strike may last.
We have some optimism that it may be over by Tuesday when we kick off ComNet18.
But to be clear, we don’t know, and that decision is beyond our control.
We want to let you know that if the strike persists, we are preparing to remake the conference in order to reflect our values.
We will not cross a picket line. Nor will we ask our colleagues or presenters to do so. Therefore, we would relocate our planned programs outside of the hotel’s meeting spaces.
Our ComNet18 hotel contract binds us to pay the conference hotel regardless.
We are taking steps to ensure we have viable options so that nobody will have to cross a picket line to attend or present at ComNet18.
Right now we are:

  • Engaged with multiple San Francisco venues to secure alternative meeting space locations should we need them.

  • Committed to doing everything in our power to provide a wonderful ComNet18.

  • If the strike continues, the rooms, meals, and logistics may not be what we planned, but the content and company will, which matters most.

  • Preparing to make a decision Tuesday about activating our contingency plans.

  • Asking for your support. We understand if you are concerned or considering even changing plans, but we strongly request that you join us in staying the course. The conference will be fun, productive, and unforgettable.

Please hear this: As we prepare Plan B contingencies, we continue to pursue our original and hoped for plan, namely, that the strike concludes and ComNet18 occurs within the Westin St. Francis.

If you are set to stay at the Westin St. Francis, we're pleased to share that the hotel has graciously agreed to waive their 24-hour notice cancellation penalties. We hope that won't be necessary. But if the strike continues we will be working to try to offer some alternate lodging options.

As needed, we will be posting updates on the strike and the status of the conference on the ComNet18 website: Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at
We are confident that ComNet18 will be the best gathering yet, and we are hopeful it will occur as planned. Safe travels and see you in San Francisco soon!

Friday, October 5, 2018 11:03 AM ET

I write to share some information about a national hotel/labor dispute that is currently impacting San Francisco and our ComNet18 hotel, the Westin St. Francis.

Over the past several months, the Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton hotel chains have entered new labor contract negotiations with the hospitality workers union in cities around the United States.  

Recently, in Chicago, after extensive talks, there was a brief strike, then a settlement between labor and management.  

The focus of the talks has now moved on to Boston, San Jose, and San Francisco, and unfortunately an active strike has begun in those cities.

We have been in touch with Marriott HQ, hotel management, SF labor leaders, and the local union.

As you might expect, this is a fluid environment.

Right now we are making arrangements to ensure that ComNet18 will proceed and fully intend to hold this year's conference. 

We also want our event to reflect the values of our organization and enable attendees to do the same.

We hope the hotels and the union reach a fair and equitable agreement soon, and we have been in contact with each expressing this desire. The hotel has assured us that it is able to maintain operations.

As we have monitored the talks from afar, we’ve been in touch with a variety of resources, including Network members in Chicago who attended events during last month’s strike at impacted hotels, to identify ways attendees will be able to express solidarity with hotel workers if they so choose.

As a matter of background, you should know that one important factor in our planning of conferences is choosing hotels that have union employees.

If you’ve been to ComNet before, you know that every year, when we gather together, we ask you to help take care of the people who are taking care of us — namely the housekeeping and banquet staff. Accordingly, the leadership of The Communications Network and our Board care deeply about the issues at stake here.

To honor our values, we are making a donation in order to help union families affected by this strike.

I'll keep you posted as developments warrant, and as we continue to consider the best means to respond. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts, don't hesitate to be in touch.