Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to the picket line?

Hi. It's been some time.

I'm afraid I had to recover from commission-fatigue -- the creeping death that sets in when you've been part of a successful organizing campaign that is co-opted and turned into a rubber stamp for the policies you'd been fighting.

As you likely know, the AAA is meeting in New Orleans. They are doing so in violation of a AAA preference (which was, itself, a violation of an LRC motion and an AAA Exec Board vote for a REQUIREMENT) for meeting only in union hotels. Further, they have continued their opposition to using INMEX, the union-supported conference planning organization. Instead, they have continued their use of ConferenceDirect, which is a meeting planner run by former Hilton execs.

What can you do? Well, I'm boycotting the whole damned thing. No registration, no attendance, and no AAA membership fees from me this year.

Colleagues, however, still believe that working with the AAA leadership -- even it's union-hating, puppet master of an Executive Director, Bill Davis -- might get some change. They've composed the following letter, which they're asking you to sign on to. You don't have to be a section leader -- listing your section affiliation(s) could help sway your section leaders to do the right thing.

If you would like to sign on to the letter, please email Steve Striffler or Paul Durrenburger . The letter follows.


Rob O'Brien

Dear Section Head [address by name]
We are writing to request that you help us with a resolution to improve the AAA’s relationship with the people and places that host our conferences. As a section leader, you can bring a motion to the Section Assembly Convener and request that the Assembly discuss and vote on the resolution before the New Orleans meeting and discuss it further there. This is one prong of a 3 pronged strategy to achieve the change we think will help—to change the conference organizing firm that AAA uses from the corporate-friendly Conference Direct to the labor-friendly INMEX. The other prongs entail bringing a similar motion to the business meeting in New Orleans and discussing the matter with the AAA executive board. If you would like to help us with this important matter, please let us know and we will suggest other section heads that are of like mind with whom you might profitably work.
Like other professional organizations, we should be using the money we spend individually and collectively on conferences in socially responsible ways that support the workers and cities that host our annual meetings. The best way we can do this is by shifting from a corporate-friendly planning agency, Conference Direct, to a labor-friendly one, INMEX. However, AAA staff have refused to make this shift.
In 2004 after a groundswell of member support, the AAA eventually supported locked out Hilton workers in San Francisco by cancelling our meeting there and moving it to Atlanta. Our actions were a catalyst for getting other professional associations to think about how to use their “hotel spend” more strategically. We followed up in 2006 by canceling another meeting in San Francisco. In spite of our early leadership in this area, AAA has lost the initiative and other professional organizations have taken the lead in this area.
Although there are many factors involved, two central reasons for this failure are a permanent staff at the AAA that has impeded all efforts in this area and an elected leadership that continually changes and has to be re-educated (and thus defers to the permanent staff on many questions). In addition, the Labor Relations Committee, set up by AAA leadership to handle precisely these issues, has been marginalized, ignored, and is not functioning as it was originally envisioned. In short, the existing structures and procedures that were put in place after 2004 have been tried in the best of faith and have failed us in the realm of labor relations with regard to meeting planning.
The way the meeting planning process works is that staff prepares a list of eligible locales (those with suitable facilities and that are not on the AAA list of sanctioned locales) and works with a planning organization that works out the details of how many rooms of what type we need for academic meetings, business meetings, and sleeping rooms, negotiates the rates for them, and schedules them for our use. This is a complicated process as it must account for every meeting and pay for every cup of coffee.
One of these conference planning organizations is the for-profit Conference Direct, organized and operated by former Hilton executives who make their money from organizations that use their services, among them the AAA. This is a staff decision.
As part of their working with professional organizations, the union that represents hotel workers, UNITE-HERE organized an alternative not-for-profit planning agency, INMEX, which offers the same range of services while also looking out for the interests of workers and protecting the AAA from San Francisco-type disasters. INMEX currently plans conferences for organizations such as the American Studies Association and plans all meetings for the Democratic National Committee. Unfortunately, even when the AAA permanent staff has been instructed by the AAA leadership to work with INMEX they have refused to do so (due largely to anti-labor sentiment).
This has led us where we are now: to a non-union hotel in New Orleans (2010); to no real commitment to the people or places that host us; and to a vision/practice of how we use our "hotel spend" that is no better than the average corporation.
Staff have pointed out that meetings are planned well in advance. When the Labor Relations Commission (now a Committee) first heard of the suggestion of New Orleans as a meeting site, they protested. They were removed from any decision making processes, and have remained side-lined since. Future meetings are planned for hotels whose workers are represented by unions in line with the AAA’s policy of “strongly preferring” union hotels. However, the AAA continues to refuse to plan its meetings via INMEX which leaves us vulnerable to labor problems such as San Francisco and does not use our collective and individual funds in the most socially responsible manner. INMEX not only insures that our meeting is planned smoothly and in union hotels (without labor disputes), but insures our money is strengthening the labor movement and going to companies and cities that are “doing it right.”
As a result, we, the undersigned, ask you to support the following resolution:

Whereas the AAA has a history of supporting UNITE HERE workers in the San Francisco lockout of 2004 and in negotiations during 2006.
Whereas the best way to support the people and places that host our annual meetings is for the AAA to switch from Conference-Direct, a for-profit meeting planner, to INMEX, a non-profit, union-friendly, planner that helps professional organizations (such as the American Studies Association and the Democratic National Committee) plan meetings, and use their “hotel spend” in a socially conscious manner.
Be it resolved that AAA will use INMEX as its conference planner.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Anthropologists Resolve Ban on Coke

Anthropologists Call on Coke to End Labor and Human Rights Violations
As of this posting, the Association for Feminist Anthropology, the Anthropology and Environment Section, the Labor Relations Commission, the Society for the Anthropology of North America, the Society for Latin American Anthropology, the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, the Society for the Anthropology of Work, the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology, and the Society for Visual Anthropology have adopted the following resolution:


WHEREAS, trade unionists at Coca-Cola plants in Colombia have been assassinated, harassed, and intimidated by right-wing paramilitaries, and
WHEREAS, the wives, children, and relatives of SINALTRAINAL leaders have been targeted by these paramilitaries, and
WHEREAS, eyewitness accounts and circumstantial evidence support the conclusion that company personnel have organized the murder and intimidation of Coca-Cola workers, and
WHEREAS, paramilitary groups operate unhindered, and often in collusion, with the government and foreign corporations as an anti-union force, and
WHEREAS, the U.S. government provides billions of dollars to the Colombian government in mostly military aid, and
WHEREAS, these actions deprive Colombian workers of their internationally recognized rights to organize into unions and bargain collectively, and
WHEREAS, no professional organization of social scientists concerned with labor and human rights should offer its credibility to the Coca-Cola Company by distributing its products,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the [the AAA sections listed above] will:
1) ban all Coca-Cola products from its functions and annual meetings and calls upon the American Anthropological Association to do the same,
2) communicate to the Coca-Cola Company that until the situation involving SINALTRAINAL is resolved and the safety and rights of workers in its bottling plants are protected, SAW will support SINALTRAINAL's boycott of the Coca-Cola Company and do all it can to publicize the boycott, and
3) demand that the Coca-Cola Company a) make a public declaration in Colombia that paramilitary violence against unionists must stop, b) create a company policy against collaboration with paramilitaries, c) establish a human rights ombudsman in every plant, and d) provide compensation to the victims, and
4) call upon the United States government to stop military aid to the Colombian government until the perpetrators of human rights crimes are held accountable.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hilton Target of Nationwide Strike Plan

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NYT on UNITE HERE's Strategy

An article in today's NYT discusses the importance of UNITE HERE's corporate strategy. This strategy is central to both understanding the AAA's role in the struggle, and to seeing the potential for anthropological work on corporate globalization.

Excerpted from the article:
"After years of effort, [UNITE HERE] has managed to ensure that its contracts in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Honolulu all expire this year. This has enabled Unite Here to maximize pressure on the industry by threatening a walkout by 60,000 workers at 400 hotels.

"Hotel workers in San Francisco have been working without a contract since 2004, and that would enable the union to declare a strike here as well. In 2004, some of the city's most prominent hotels locked out many workers in a labor dispute.

"'The only way to take on a global corporation is to take them on with a national or regional strategy,' said Mike Casey, president of the hotel workers' local in San Francisco."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hostile Working Conditions: How Anthropologists Can Demand Change From Coke

What You Can Do
1. Send your own message to Coke:
E. Neville Isdell, CEO, Coca-Cola
Ed Potter, Director of Global Labor Relations, Coca-Cola (Potter's been Coke’s point-person on this issue, so he should definitely be contacted)
Cc: Rodrigo Calderón, Vice-President, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola, Latin America
Lori Billingsley, Issues Director, Media Relation, Coca-Cola

2. Ask the AAA Executive Board to adopt the resolution:
Alan Goodman, President, AAA Executive Board
Cc: Bill Davis, Executive Director, AAA
Lucille Horn, Director of AAA and Section Meetings, AAA
Paul Nutti, Director of External, International and Government Relations, AAA

4. Ask your section leaders to take a stand in solidarity with the Colombian Coca-Cola workers and those unions, universities and colleges that seek to pressure the Coca-Cola Company to change its business practices.

Please use the links in the sidebar and see Lesley Gill's essay in Transforming Anthropology (you need Adobe Acrobat to open this link) to find out more about these issues.

Friday, January 13, 2006

AAA LRC Report on Actions to Date

Below is the text of the report the AAA Labor Relations Commission has submitted to Anthropology News. It will appear in the February issue. Thought folks here would want to know what we've been up to. The LRC would very much like to be in dialogue with AAA members about the work we're doing. Please use the email addresses provided at the site listed below to contact us.


After relocating the 2004 annual meeting of the AAA from San Francisco to Atlanta because of labor issues, the AAA Executive Board (EB) established the Labor Relations Commission. Its term is from January 15, 2005 through the AAA Annual Meeting in November, 2009.

We have prepared this report to better communicate with our fellow AAA members and in the interest of transparency. We urge you to communicate any questions or concerns you may have directly with us via e-mail addresses listed at the AAA website.

The LRC is charged with (1) providing information to the AAA Executive Board and staff as they negotiate contracts that promote collective bargaining and the right to organize while protecting the Association from liability and the disruption of its scheduled annual meetings, and (2) sharing information with other scholarly associations for the above purposes. In addition to frequent email communication, we have had six meetings via conference call, as well as a face-to-face session at the AAA meeting in DC. Our first task was to advise the EB on the wording of an AAA referendum on the policy of using only union hotels. We collected relevant data on the availability of unionized sites and debated the language of the ballot measure.

Our next order of business was to conduct research with other academic associations on their experiences with labor struggles and on the best practices regarding force majeuere (opt out) language and contract negotiation. We agreed on questions to ask and contacted fourteen academic organizations and spoke with their executive directors, staff, and/or board presidents. In addition, several LRC members had pro bono conversations with labor attorneys. We have presented a report to the EB summarizing these data. Alan Goodman and Rob O’Brien have maintained ongoing contact with UNITE HERE.

Most recently, we have advised the EB and AAA staff on the location of the 2006 meeting. Facing an ongoing hotel boycott by UNITE HERE in San Francisco and the probability that the ongoing contract dispute would result in losing another annual meeting in 2006, the LRC began to research alternate sites. In June, 2005, the LRC sent the EB and AAA staff the following:

“There now appears to be little reason to be optimistic that the labor dispute in San Francisco will soon be resolved, despite the agreement recently reached in Los Angeles and the relocation (or threatened relocation) of several large meetings and conventions since our 2004 annual meeting was relocated to Atlanta. Both the hotel/restaurant industry and UNITE HERE consider the stakes in San Francisco to be particularly high and there are a substantial number of crucial issues to be resolved. The Labor Relations Commission supports making an early decision to relocate the annual meeting to a site in which a substantial proportion of employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements that will extend at least through December 2006. From the point of view of labor relations we have two excellent options: San Jose and Vancouver. In both cases meeting rooms would be in the convention center, while sleeping rooms (approximately 1800) would be more dispersed than is customary for AAA.”

In July, the EB passed a motion to relocate the meeting to San Jose. Although time constraints prevented the EB and staff from considering San Jose a viable option in 2004, upon further research and communications with organizations that have met there it appears to be a promising meeting location.

The meeting will be held in the unionized San Jose Convention Center. Meeting participants will be almost entirely housed in hotels in which employees are represented by UNITE HERE, including the San Jose Marriott (the meeting headquarters) and the San Jose Hilton (both attached to the convention center).
• The labor situation is stable in San Jose, in part because the hotels, unlike those in San Francisco, are under local rather than corporate ownership. UNITE HERE has assured us that that we will not encounter any labor strife in San Jose.
• Conference Direct, the company with which we currently subcontract to plan our meetings, as well as AAA meeting organizer Lucille Horne are very confident that all will proceed well in San Jose.
• The hotels are less dispersed than in Vancouver, the alternate location we considered, and the air fares cheaper for many participants.
• Relocating to this site communicates to San Francisco and other cities our commitment to labor-friendly policies.

The actions taken by the AAA have encouraged at least seven other national conferences to relocate their 2006 meetings from Multi-Employer Group hotels (known as MEG, a group of fourteen San Francisco hotels that formed a consortium to strengthen their position vis-à-vis labor contracts). The AAA represents considerable consumer power. Our memberships in our association give us collectively constructive and affirmative power that we lack as individuals. Joined with the power of other such organizations, we can be a positive force.

The boycott continues in San Francisco except for the Westin St. Francis Hotel, which has expressed its willingness to negotiate with the union.

After more than a year, hotel workers in San Francisco remain determined to win a decent contract. The LRC supports them in this goal for San Francisco and all hotel workers. LRC members believe that our support represents a professional commitment to the people most of us work with and benefit from: working people, especially the working poor and marginalized, many of whom are immigrants, women, and people of color. Moreover, we remain dedicated to minimizing the disruption that would inevitably result if our meeting hotels were surrounded by picket lines.

Ongoing Labor Issues

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing in the hopes of creating a dialogue about ongoing labor issues affecting (or being affected by) the AAA. I would like to ask people to post reponses to the list and to keep these limited to the issues raised below, as they fall both within the rationale for this blog and within the purview of those things on which AAA members can urge the AAA EB and section leaders to take action.

Although the Labor Relations Commission (of which I am a member) has done a tremendous job in thinking through and addressing labor issues related to the hotels in which we meet for conferences, there are several labor issues which fall outside the purview of the LRC. (A report on the Labor Relations Commission's work will be forthcoming in the February Anthropology News (AN) and on this blog).

First is the issue of Coke's efforts globally to suppress labor organizing. The Labor Relations Commission will be discussing a resolution to ban Coke products from all AAA meetings. Individual readers might consider supporting such a ban and also promoting one on your home campuses.

Second is the question of academic labor - supporting the rights of graduate employees, adjuncts, and other contingent workers to organize and supporting the cases of folks like David Graeber at Yale.

Finally, as AN editors were just told recently, "AN changed its local printer from Fry Communications to Gannett starting with the November 2005 issue of AN, which resulted in a $10K savings." Gannett's labor practices are, of course, just the beginning of the problem with this media conglomerate. They're the largest newspaper chain and they've just started a bid to buy Knight-Ridder (the second largest). If you're familiar with Robert McChesney's work on media consolidation (or Habermas' work on the lack of a public sphere), you know this goes far beyond labor union issues.

I hope that we can use this page and the list as a forum to discuss these issues over the next several weeks, and, perhaps, to come up with a plan of action.

All the best,


Monday, July 25, 2005

The AFL-CIO Boycott

"Unite Here, which represents hotel, restaurant and garment workers, is also on the verge of leaving the federation."

Here is a round-up of recent related stories.

And be sure to read coverage at the House of Labor blog.

This post by Rose Ann DeMoro on the reaction of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee to the split struck me as particularly interesting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hotel union says no to new offer

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

A contract proposal that San Francisco hotel owners hoped would end an 11-month labor dispute was rejected Wednesday by the hotel workers union, whose president dismissed it as "cynical and disingenuous.''

The proposal from a group of 14 major hotels offered improvements in health and welfare benefits compared with the last proposal in January. But it also had an expiration date that the union said is unacceptable, and it reduced wage increases in an earlier offer by 25 cents per hour for non-tipped workers and 12 cents for tipped workers.

The offering came as a package and was automatically withdrawn when the union rejected it. Thus Local 2 of the hotel workers union and the negotiating group for the hotels are back where they started in August.

In addition, the rejection almost certainly means that several major conventions scheduled for San Francisco in 2006 will go elsewhere.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

NYU no longer to recognize grad student union

On Thursday, NYU announced that it planned to stop negotiating with the United Auto Workers local that represents the graduate students. The university said that the union had tried to interfere with academic decisions and that the university could better serve graduate students without the UAW. Simultaneously, the university announced plans to raise graduate students’ stipends and to create new forums for graduate students to have their views represented.

The decision could set off a new round of labor strife at NYU. “I see them backing us into a corner where we will have no choice but to strike,” said Michael Palm, a Ph.D. student at NYU and head of the union.

Via Inside Higher Ed, which has more on this story.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Labor Relations Commission

A recently released report from the AAA President's office to the AAA Labor Relations Commission. (Read my comments over at Savage Minds.)

June 1, 2005

To: Labor Relations Commission
From: Liz Brumfiel, AAA President
RE: 2006 AAA Annual Meeting Location

At its spring meeting, May 14-15, 2005, the AAA Executive Board had a lengthy and productive discussion of issues surrounding the location of the 2006 Annual Meeting, presently scheduled to be in San Francisco. Give the likelihood of hotel management-labor conflict at the San Francisco Hilton, the scheduled venue of the 2006 Meeting, and given strong indications from AAA members that they would not cross picket lines in the case of a strike or a lockout, the AAA Executive Board directed AAA staff to begin to explore alternative 2006 meeting times and locations and to initiate further surveying of membership as to acceptability of these other potential times and locations. The Board also agreed to make a decision concerning the 2006 meeting location no later than July 1, 2005, and it directed me to consult with the Section Assembly and the Labor Relations Commission regarding these deliberations.

This memo reviews the information that was considered by the Executive Board at its spring meeting.

Status of the Hotel Management-Labor Conflict

President-Elect Alan Goodman summarized the current and anticipated status of hotel management-labor conflict, based on conversations that Labor Relations Commission members Paul Durrenberger, Alan Goodman, and Rob O’Brien have had with UNITE-HERE (UH) representatives Neal Kwatra and Matthew Walker. Paul Nuti, AAA Director of External, International and Government Relations also participated in these conversations.

Goodman stated that the union regards San Francisco as “ground zero” in its struggle with the hotel/restaurant industry. Historically, the industry has been atomized, but its recent transformation from locally owned and controlled employers to a more consolidated, globalized structure has created a need for a “national-level relationship” between labor and hotel groups. This is necessary in order for labor to secure better terms on issues such as health care, safety, workers compensation costs, health insurance, and worker productivity.

Labor contracts will have expired in several major markets (New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Detroit, Monterrey and Hawaii) during 2005-2006. The union cannot provide any assurance to the AAA that the dispute in San Francisco will be resolved in advance of November 2006. Management shows no willingness to settle the dispute in the near term. The stakes for the union are particularly high in San Francisco where, according to the union, the hotel companies are making lots of money and the unions are among the healthiest, best organized, and strongest in the country. UH Local 2 is a “linchpin” of the UH national strategy. One-third of the San Francisco Hilton’s cash flow comes from academic/professional groups like the AAA. Hilton has stated recently that its recent weak performance in San Francisco is a result of the labor action. Walker expressed appreciation for the AAA’s engagement and support in the labor dispute.

Goodman said that he had every reason to believe that the current labor action will still be in effect in 2006. So, it is important to begin examining options for the 2006 Annual Meeting.

Membership Survey

AAA Executive Director Bill Davis then presented the results of the recent email membership survey. Approximately 22% of the membership responded to the survey.

In response to question 1, “If there is an employee strike at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel at the time of the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting and a picket line established at the hotel, would you be willing to cross the picket line to attend the Meeting?”

9% of respondents answered “Yes”
75% of respondents answered “No”
14% of respondents answered “It would depend on the situation” and
2% of respondents answered “I don’t know”.

In response to question 2, “If employees of the San Francisco Hilton Hotel at the time of the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting are being locked out and a picket line established at the hotel, would you be willing to cross the picket line to attend the Meeting?”

8% of respondents answered “Yes”
83% of respondents answered “No”
8% of respondents answered “It would depend on the situation” and
2% of respondents answered “I don’t know”.

In response to question 3, “If union representatives of San Francisco Hilton Hotel employees are urging a boycott of the hotel at the time of the 2006 AAA meeting, but employees are not on strike or locked out of the hotel, would you be willing to attend an AAA meeting at the San Francisco Hilton?

28% of respondents answered “Yes”
39% of respondents answered “No”
29% of respondents answered “It would depend on the circumstances” and
5% of respondents answered “I don’t know”.

In response to question 4, “Under normal circumstances, would you expect to attend the AAA Annual Meeting in 2006?

80% of respondents answered “Yes”
5% of respondents answered “No”, and
16% of respondents answered “I don’t know”.

The Executive Board concluded that these responses provided clear evidence that the AAA cannot hold an effective annual meeting in San Francisco in 2006 if, as seems likely, management-labor disputes are occurring at the time.

Bill also reported on the cost to the AAAof moving the 2004 meeting to Atlanta. The total cost of the move was $445,394. This total includes:

Refunds to AAA members (registrations and abstracts): $296,015
Exhibitor fee refunds: 55,050
Special event refunds: 2,500
Child care contribution refunds: 107
Atlanta Hilton attrition clause (50%) 81,000
Legal fees 10,722

A more detailed report on the financial consequences of the decision to move the 2004 meeting
from San Francisco will be provided to AAA members in the Anthropology News this fall.

Finally, Davis reported on a survey on labor/hotel conflict he conducted among the 67 national scholarly organizations who hold membership in the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and of two recent meetings of ACLS during which issues involving hotel contracts for 2005 – 2007 had been discussed at length. Among issues viewed as most problematic were (1) the difficulty of informing association members about the consequences and costs of breaking contracts for annual meetings, (2) identifying the particular circumstances in which a society should employ its meeting location policy to serve the advancement of social policy goals, (3) the extent to which the use of meeting location policy to achieve social policy objectives was severely restricting the number of city and hotel venues available for large scholarly meetings, and (4) the likelihood that continuing hotel labor/management conflict could prevent some of the scholarly societies from continuing to successfully conduct their traditional annual meetings. The chief executive officers of ACLS member societies have agreed to continue to work together in addressing these and other issues.

Report of the Labor Relations Commission

AAA President Liz Brumfiel provided a brief report of the activities of the labor Relations Commission’s efforts to forge liaisons with other scholarly and progressive organizations.

The LRC has learned that a few organizations have negotiated contract language that reduces or eliminates financial penalties for cancellations in response to strikes or other labor disputes. For example, the American Sociological Association has included paragraphs in some of its contracts that permit the Association to cancel its hotel contract in the event of any labor dispute that it believes will disrupt or interfere with the Association’s Annual Meeting. The ASA must demonstrate at least 40% of its members would refuse to attend the Annual Meeting due to the labor dispute.

The American Studies Association includes a paragraph in its Standard Agreement that gives it the right to cancel its contract without penalty if there is a possibility that organized labor actions (such as picketing) could occur during the meeting dates.
Brumfiel noted that while these contracts protect organizations against financial loss when they cancel meetings at locations where labor struggles are in progress, the contracts provide no protection against the disruption that occurs when meetings must be moved on short notice from one location to another. The way to avoid meeting disruption is to determine the dates that labor contracts will expire in advance of signing a meeting contract with a hotel and to avoid signing contracts with hotels for years when their labor contracts are due to expire.

Brumfiel also noted that other organizations have had difficulties as a result the San Francisco labor disputes. The Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association decided to proceed with its meeting in a hotel that was being struck, and this decision caused deep and bitter division within the association, disputed elections of officers, and the resignation of the APA executive director. The Organization of American Historians decided to move its March-April 2005 meeting from San Francisco to San Jose when they became aware that there was “a distinct possibility of a strike, lockout or continued boycott at the Hilton in San Francisco.” The move cost the OAH somewhere around $460,000, about the same as the loss to the AAA when it moved its 2004 meeting to Atlanta. However, the OAH is about half the size of the AAA, and most of its loss was incurred as liquidation damages paid to the SF Hilton whereas most of the AAA loss was incurred as registration fees refunded to its members and none of the loss was paid out to the San Francisco Hilton Hotel.

Brumfiel concurred with other presenters that the key to avoiding disruption of the 2006 meetings was to make an early decision to move the meeting, giving the SF Hilton time in which to rebook the room space cancelled by the AAA and before any AAA members make arrangements to attend the meetings.

Discussion of the AAA’s Options

Discussion then ensued of the AAA’s options for 2006. AAA Director of Meetings Lucille Horn reported that she had already initiated a discreet search of unionized locales that might be available for the 2006 Annual Meeting. She observed that when the AAA puts out a RFP to hotels, it lists unionized facilities as one of its requirements. Thus, hotels everywhere are made aware that the AAA will give its business only to unionized hotels.

Board Action on the 2006 Annual Meeting Location

After this discussion, Alan Goodman moved the following:

Whereas, there is continued labor unrest in San Francisco


Whereas, a recent membership poll shows strong support for not attending a meeting at a hotel involved in labor unrest:

1) The AAA Executive Board directs AAA staff to explore alternative 2006 meeting times and locations,
2) The Executive Board directs AAA Staff to initiate further surveying of membership as to acceptability of these other potential times and locations,
3) The Executive Board directs Liz Brumfiel, Alan Goodman and Bill Davis to consult with the Section Assembly, and the Commission on Labor Relations regarding the deliberations of the AAA Executive Board, and
4) The AAA Executive Board agrees to set a time for the Board to come together via email or telephone, not later than July 1, 2005.

By a unanimous vote, the motion was adopted.

Friday, May 13, 2005

David Graeber

From an article in Zmag:

[Anthropologist] David Graeber, was fired from Yale University a few days ago. Of course, that wasn't the official explanation. The official one reads that "his contract wasn't renewed" because of his lack of "collegiality". If you would allow me to translate this: the "lack of collegiality" that David had showed was when he was trying to defend his graduate students who were graduate union organizers.

Union organizers are regularly targeted at Yale. When one brilliant graduate student organizer was almost kicked out for clearly fabricated reasons, David Graeber was the only member of her committee with the courage to openly stand up for her at that committee meeting, and then later at a faculty meeting. On David Graeber's behalf, Yale graduate students have initiated a petition which has been signed by almost all graduate and good number of undergraduate students of anthropology.

Sign the petition.

Learn more on the web site.

Keep informed on the blog.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Vote "no" on Referendum #2!

[Please Distribute Widely]

Dear fellow AAA Members,

I admit it, I normally throw my AAA ballot in the circular file. But this year I didn't, because I knew that there were some important labor related issues at stake. However, as I sat down to vote, I realized just how confusing the wording is for Referendum #2. Although it might seem otherwise, if you wish to support the collective bargaining rights of workers in the United States, you should vote "no" on this referendum!

Voting "no" will keep the current wording of the guidelines passed by the AAA executive board last December.

Voting "no" will keep the wording as follows:

"AAA staff responsible for negotiating and administering meeting venue contracts shall select only meeting facilities whose staff are represented by a union."

Voting "yes" will have the adverse affect of changing this wording to remove the word "must" and replace it with "strongly prefers," thus weakening our bargaining position in negotiating contracts with hotel and conference chains.

Referendum #2 misrepresents the number of venues that the AAA will continue to be able to use we keep the current language. It does this by listing venues the AAA has historically attended, rather than all the potential venues we could continue to use.

Please take the time to vote on this important ballot.

Vote "no" on Referendum #2.

You can comment on this referendum, and view other comments, at this URL.

Thank you.

P. Kerim Friedman
Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Haverford College
On behalf of AAA-UNITE
The views expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

More on Wal-Mart

Here is more on Wal-Mart's anti-union closing in Canada:

Facing the threat of unionization, Wal-Mart closed its Jonquiere, Quebec store rather than pay its employees living wages and benefits. The Canadian store would have been the first union shop in the Wal-Mart empire.

Via Retro vs. Metro, which links to several news stories about the closure. Including this one by Roy J. Adams:

Not long ago, a butcher department in Texas certified a bargaining agent under U.S. law. Within weeks the company shut down the department and outsourced meat-cutting. Internal company documents indicate that remaining union free is a priority objective.

Many labour experts believe Wal-Mart's plan in closing the Jonquière store and the unit in Texas is to send a signal to other employees who might contemplate exercising their right to organize that doing so is useless and, indeed, dysfunctional.

As is well known, Wal-Mart keeps its prices low by taking employee exploitation to new heights, including child labor, discrimination against women, and relying on government programs to provide health care for workers (who are paid so little they still qualify for poverty programs).

The AFL-CIO has an excellent website devoted to Wal-Mart. With a link to this petition you can sign to complain about the Jonquiere closing. And here is a letter (PDF file! - see below as well) signed by a bunch of academics.

On a related note, here is a blog devoted to keeping New York City Wal-Mart free.

Finally, you can watch the PBS Frontline online.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Keywords.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wal-Mart Shuts Down Store Rather Than Allow Union

For details see:

common dreams
The ledger
The Retail Bulletin
ICLA Online
NY Times
Wal-Mart's War on Workers
NY Times

The following letter is being circulated in protest. Please send an email (using the "email us!" link in the sidebar) if you'd like to have your name and info added to the letter.

We are very concerned about Wal-Mart's decision to close its store in Jonquiere, Quebec in the wake of its employees' opting for unionization and collective bargaining. The right to unionize and bargain collectively is not only a statutory right in Canada, but also a fundamental human right. Wal-Mart has a well documented policy of discouraging its employees from exercising this fundamental right and in frustrating its object when employees choose, nevertheless, to exercise it. We believe that respect for human rights is fundamental to good corporate citizenship. In order to conform to international human rights standards, Wal-Mart must cease its active opposition to unionization and instead recognize and deal fairly with leaders freely chosen by its employees with a view towards working out, in good faith, mutually acceptable solutions to issues raised.

Roy J. Adams, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Ontario
Larry Haiven, Professor, St. Mary’s University, Nova Scotia
Basu Sharma, Professor, University of New Brunswick
Bob Hebdon, Associate Professor, McGill University, Quebec
Kurt Wetzel, Professor, University of Saskatchewan
Yonatan Reshef, Professor, University of Alberta
Gregor Murray, Professor, Universite de Montreal, Quebec
Gilles Trudeau, Professor, Universite de Montreal, Quebec
Guylaine Vallee, Professor, Universite de Montreal, Quebec
Michel Hebert, Lecturer, Universite du Québec en Outaouais
Don Wells, Professor, McMaster University, Ontario
Harish Jain, Professor, McMaster University, Ontario
Jack Quarter, Professor, University of Toronto
David Cingranelli, Professor, Binghamton University, New York
Richard Hurd, Professor, Cornell Univerity
Elaine Bernard, Professor, Harvard University
Ruth Milkman, Professor, University of California at Los Angeles
Hugh Hindman, Professor, Appalachian State University, North Carolina
Richard Hyman, Professor, London School of Economicsm
Reuben Roth, Assistant Professor, Laurentian University, Ontario
Renaud Paquet, University of Quebec in Ottawa
Gerald Rosenblum, Emeritus Professor, McMaster University, Ontario
Gary Warner, Professor, McMaster University, Ontario
Joy Warner, Co-Chair, Hamilton-Burlington Kairos Committee, Ontario
John Whitman, Ph.D. student, University of Toronto
Jorge Sousa, Ph.D. student, University of Toronto
Jane Cudmore, Hamilton, Ontario
Bob Cook, Hamilton, Ontario
Ben Taal, Kairos Coordinating Committee, Great Lakes Region
Angela Miles, Professor, University of Toronto
Patrice Jalette, Professor, University of Montreal
Steven E. Abraham, Professor, State University of New York, Oswego
Elizabeth Gedge, Dept of Philosophy, McMaster University, Ontario
James A. Gross, Professor, Cornell University, New York
William Canak, Professor, Middle Tennesee State University
Arthur Hochner, Associate Professor, Temple University, Pennsylvania
Sam Lanfranco, Professor, York University, Ontario
Gerald Hunt, Associate Professor, Ryerson University, Ontario
Lawrence Root, Professor, University of Michigan
Howard Stanger, Associate Professor, Canisius College
Immanuel Ness, Professor, City University of New York
Bruce Nissen, Professor, Florida International University
Susan Stabile, St. John’s University, New York
Danielle Benoiton, North Bay, Ontario
Paul Clark, Professor, Penn State University
Joanne Lloyd, Brant Kairos Group, Ontario
Stewart Sweeney, University of South Australia
Ellen Dannin, Professor, Wayne State University, Michigan
Silvana Pozzebon, Associate Professor, HEC Montreal, Quebec
Michael Craig, Senior Organizer, Amnesty International, Toronto
Ann Martin, Senior Extension Associate, Cornell University
Anne Pollard, Hamilton, Ontario
David Montgomery, Emeritus Professor, Yale University
Donald Woodside, McMaster University, Ontario
Nancy Jackson, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
James Penney, Assistant Professor, Trent University, Ontario
David Jacobs, Professor, Hood College, Maryland
Marilyn Adams, Professor, Mohawk College, Ontario
Ann Frost, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario
Karen McCrank, University of Toronto, Ontario
Vilma Donatelli, Development and Peace, Ontario
Risa Lieberwitz, Associate Professor, Cornell University
Wes Johnson, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Paul Adler, Professor, University of Southern California
Gerry Kirk, Sault St. Marie, Ontario
Richard Marens, Assistant Professor, California State University,
Raza Mire, William Patterson University, New Jersey
Nancy DiTomaso, Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Jack Fiorito, Professor, Florida State University
Haideh Moghissi, York University, Ontario
Ray Markey, Professor, University of Woolongong, Australia
Atif Kubursi, Professor, McMaster University, Ontario
John C. Robertson, Professor Emeritus, McMaster Univeristy, Ontario
Rev. Joan L. Robertson, Hamilton, Ontario
Josie D’Amico, Hamilton, Ontario
Corliss Olson, University of Wisconsin
Laurie N. DiPadova-Stocks, Associate Professor, Park University
Sylvie Morel, Professor, University of Laval
Max B. Sawicky, Economists, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Leon Fink, Editor, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas
Ian Towers, Ph.D. student, Carleton University, Ottawa
James Atleson, Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Buffalo
Jennifer Madsen, Anchorage, Alaska
Richard McIntyre, Professor, University of Rhode Island
Vilma Donatelli, Hamilton, Ontario
Frank Reid, Professor, University of Toronto
Clyde Summers, Emeritus Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Sarah Stookey, Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts
Louis Chauvin, Lecturer, McGill University
Robert Kucheran, Caledonia, Ontario
Stephen Hughes, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Owen Darbishire, Oxford University, UK
Willy Brown, Professor, Cambridge University, UK
Beth Lyon, Assistant Professor, Villanova Univesity, Philadelphia
Catherine MacDonald, Nova Scotia
Eileen Appelbaum, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Thomas Kochan, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
Jan Johnstone, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto
Bethany Sutton, Ottawa, Ontario
Rick Goodwin, Ottawa, Ontario
Jeanne S. McPherson, University of South Alabama
Roland Zullo, University of Michigan
Peter Archibald, McMaster University
Karen Szala-Meneok, Hamilton, Ontario
Constance deRoche, Professor, University College of Cape Breton
Elizabeth Wilson, University of Manchester
Pradeep Kumar, Professor, Queen’s University, Ontario
Emma Gardner, Germany
Joe Wallace, Professor, University of Limerick, Ireland
Brian Towers, Professor, Nottingham and Strathclyde Universities, UK
Doug Massey, Hamilton, Ontario
Thomas E. Terrill, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina
Harley Shaiken, Professor, University of California at Berkely
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford University, California
Daniel Golodner, Wayne State University, Michigan
Julius Getman, Professor, University of Texas
Richard N. Block, Professor, Michigan State University
Greg D. Squires, Professor, George Washington University, Washington, DC
John Revitte, Profesor, Michigan State University
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Alex Johnstone, University of Western Ontario.
Pat Doherty, University of Ontario
Art Shostak, Emeritus Professor, Drexel University, Pennsylvania
Neill DeClerq, University of Wisconsin
Catherine MacDonald, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Con and Chris Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, DC
Kay Devine, University of Alberta
Steven Deutsch, Emeritus Professor, University of Oregon
George Gonos, Associate Professor, State University of New York, Potsdam, NY
Adrienne Eaton, Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Roxana Ng, University of Toronto, Ontario
Judy Silver, University of Toronto, Ontario
Hoyt Wheeler, Professor, University of South Carolina
John Kervin, Professor, Unviersity of Toronto
Ran Chermesh, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Andree Cote, National Association of Women and the Law
Michael Gent, Professor, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
Cheryl Maranto, Associate Professor, Marquette University
Raymond Wiest, Professor, University of Manitoba
Michelle Kaminski, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Berndt Keller, University of Constance, Constance, Germany
Philip Alston, Professor, New York University and past-chair, UN Commission on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Kiran Mirchandani, University of Toronto
Reynald Bourque, Professor, University of Montreal
Raymond Hogler, Professor, Colorado State University
Daniel Geagan, Professor, McMaster University
Celia Haig-Brown, Professor, York University, Ontario
Lance Compa, Professor, Cornell University, New York
George Tsogas, Senior Lecturer, Cass Business School, London, England
Melvin Rothbaum, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois
Jon Rogers, London, England
Charles McCollester, Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Niki Gately, Hamilton, Ontario
Cynthia Nance, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
David Walsh, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Guy Bellemare, professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Louise Briand, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Noelle Stutt-Walsh, Milton, Ontario
Nancy Biagini, Santa Clara, California
Julie Dwyer-Young, Burlington, Ontario
Noam Chomsky, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
Richard Troy, Toronto, Ontario
Peter Samuel, Senior Lecturer, University of Wales, UK
Louis Favreau, professeur, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Robert Plante Médecin-conseil en santé au travail et environnementale
Romaine Malenfant, professeure, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Normand Lapante, professeur, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Denis Bourque, professeur, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Guy Chiasson, professeur, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Paul Leduc Browne, professeur, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Manfred W. Weiss, Professor, University of Frankfurt, Germany
Michel Grant, Professor, University of Quebec at Montreal
Emma Gardner, Hamburg, Germany
Meris K. Brookland, University of New Brunswick
Ann Marie Powers, Professor, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS
Diane Swanson, Professor, Kansas State University
John Taylor, Burlington, Ontario
John Godard, Professor, University of Manitoba
Jacques-Andre Lequin, University of Quebec at Ottawa
Sujan Vasavada, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Joydeep Roy, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Rebecca Gumbrell, Birkbeck College, UK
George Strauss, University of California at Berkely
Suzanne Bouclin, University of Ottawa
Lorraine Kraft, Calgary, Alberta
Chris and Mike Whatmore, North Bay, Ontario
James G. Scoville, Professor, University of Minnesota
Joan Mason-Grant, King’s University College, London, Ontario
Karl Klare, Professor, Northeastern University, Boston
David Goodings, Professor Emeritus, McMaster, Ontario
Eileen Foley, Senior Economists, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Joan Greer, Hamilton, Ontario
Siddiq Burney, Burlington, Ontario
Lee Prince, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Brian Timlick, Manitoba
Andrew Jackson, Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa
Charles T. Schmidt Jr, Professor, University of Rhode Island
Robert Alpern, Co-Chair, Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community, Healdsburg, California
Goetz Wolff, Lecturer, UCLA. Los Angeles, California
Frances Beer, York University, Toronto, Ontario
Steve Frenkel, Australian Graduate School of Management, Sydney, Australia
Luis Bueno, Professor, Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico
Michael Fichter, Professor, Free University of Berlin, Germany
Thomas Greven, Professor, Free University of Berlin, Germany
Louise Rose Blume, Clermont, Georgia, USA
Larry Smoot, Washington, DC
David Kaplan, Seattle, Washington
Andrew Peterson, Washington, DC
Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor, University of California at Santa Barbara
Mina Dizdarevic, Hamilton, Ontario
Mike Groom, Hamilton, Ontario
Sylvia Groom, Hamilton, Ontario
Sumner Rosen, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, New York
Judith Davidoff, New York, New York
Joseph B. Rose, Professor, McMaster University
Judith Haiven, St. Mary’s University, Nova Scotia
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Rod Hill, Professor, University of New Brunswick
Greg Albo, York University, Toronto
Marc Lavoie, University of Ottawa
Maxwell Cameron, University of British Columbia
Maria Carmen Galang, Associate Professor, University of Victoria, British Columbia
Mel Watkins, Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa
Richard Allen, Hamilton, Ontario
Jane Zukovs, Ontario
Judith Ackerman,
Wendy Russell, Assistant Professor, Huron University College, London, Ontario
Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Linda Kirnan, New York, NY
Joan McDonald, Haliburton, Ontario
Jesse Vorst, University of Manitoba, Canada
Kim Rohrbach, San Francisco
George Clark, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
Tessa Hebb, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
John Cornwall, Professor Emeritus, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Wendy Cornwall, Professor Emeritus, Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, Canada
Pierre Verge, Professor Emeritus, Laval University, Quebec
Bodo Zeuner, Professor, Free University of Berlin, Germany
David Peetz, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
David Antill, University of Leicester, UK
Jean-Guy Loranger, Honorary Professor, University of Montreal
Thomas Offit, Assistant Professor, Baylor University
Beth Boerger, Kansas City, Missouri
Isik Zeytinoglu, Professor, McMaster Univeristy, Hamilton, Ontario
Robert Chernomas, Professor, University of Manitoba, Canada
Sandy Smith-Nonini, Assistant Professor, Elon University, North Carolina
Jan Kainer, Associate Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada
Ellie Perkins, Associate Professor, York University, Ontario
Rosemary Warskett, Associate Professor, Carleton University, Ontario
Judith Ackerman, New York, NY
David Doorey, Adjunct Professor, Queen’s University and University of Toronto, Ontario
Greg Saltzman, Professor Albion College and Research Scientist, University of Michigan
Carolyn Jones, Birkbeck University, UK
John Hendy QC, Visiting Professor, King’s College, London, UK
Mike Waghorne, Ferney-Voltaire, France
Hans Engelberts, Ferney-Voltaire, France
Robert T. O'Brien, PhD Candidate, Temple University