Friday, October 29, 2004

NAPA announcement

Subject: NAPA at the Atlanta AAA Annual Meeting 2004

Dear NAPA Members:

During the past two weeks, the NAPA Governing Board and committee chairs have held several phone conferences and exchanged a good deal of correspondence concerning contingency plans based on the labor dispute involving hotel workers and hotel owners in San Francisco. As you know, the AAA Executive Board has decided to move the Annual Meeting to the Atlanta Hilton, December 15-19.

We are extremely grateful to the AAA staff, the all-volunteer AAA Executive Board, Section Assembly, and NAPA leadership network, and for the energy, time, and thoughtful consideration they have given to an enormously complicated situation, where each of the choices is bound to displease a substantial number of us.

We have received a number of emails from NAPA members, and we have been in touch with the heads of the other AAA sections. After careful consideration, the NAPA leadership network OPPOSED the following proposition:

If the UNITE/HERE Local 2 and San Francisco hotel owners fail to reach a cooling off agreement, and the AAA Executive Board elects to proceed with the annual meeting at the Atlanta Hilton, NAPA encourages its members to attend the meetings, and will work to organize exchanges that will advance our professions understanding of and meaningful involvement in resolving the fundamental issues that have led to this labor dispute. If a quorum cannot be achieved in person or by phone, the Annual NAPA Board and Business Meetings will be rescheduled for Santa Fe, NM in April. Professional development and skill-building workshops in the preliminary program will take place if a sufficient number of subscriptions are received. NAPA will make information regarding alternative housing available to its members.

At the same time that the NAPA Board opposed the Atlanta proposition, we voted overwhelmingly in favor of leaving the AAA 2004 Conference at the SF Hilton if a 90-day cooling off period had gone into effect. Since the hotel multi-employers group rejected the cooling off period, that position became moot.

No position was taken on boycotting the meetings. We will not dictate to people whether to hold NAPA-sponsored panels or present their papers in Atlanta. All panel organizers should make this decision in consultation with their panel members. If you were slated to make a presentation, please contact your panel organizer to make further plans. The AAA meeting organizers will soon provide further details regarding confirmations and withdrawals. We will work with the AAA Program Committee to make sure that paper presenters who find themselves without fellow panel members and wish to make a presentation in Atlanta can still do so.

The NAPA leadership network APPROVED the proposition that the NAPA board will actively seek to work with the Section Assembly and the AAA Executive Board to articulate a comprehensive policy statement concerning the criteria to be applied in selecting future AAA Annual Meeting venues.

President-Elect Micki Iris and I plan to attend the meetings in order to meet with AAA leadership and ensure that NAPA has a voice in the discussions that will surely take place. We believe that NAPA, as an organization, has much to contribute to a resolution of the short and long-term problems and conflicts that are likely to ensue as a result of this controversy. We also believe that NAPA members, with their breadth and depth of experience in real-world settings, can make substantial contributions to the ways in which AAA moves forward from this point. This is a critical time in the life of AAA and we welcome feedback from NAPA members, particularly suggestions and constructive proposals as to how AAA can "reinvent" itself.

The NAPA board and business meetings will NOT take place in Atlanta because a substantial number of members cannot be present. We will discuss our urgent business via phone conference and electronic correspondence, and hold our next Board meeting in Santa Fe in April.

In the absence of a full business meeting in Atlanta, we will hold an informational session with NAPA members in Atlanta. At this session, we will recognize the winners of NAPA Student Achievement Awards.

We will NOT host our annual networking event, since it seems prudent to save on the catering and room rental costs.

We will NOT hold the Local Practitioners' Forum that had been scheduled in the preliminary program because a substantial number of the people we expected to attend cannot be present. We will work with the SfAA LPO Liaison to see if we can schedule a more extensive forum in Santa Fe.

We will "let the market decide" about workshops in Atlanta - if there are not sufficient pre-registrations, the workshops will not be staged, and pre-registrants will have their subscription fee refunded.

You will be interested to know that in September, before this Annual Meeting relocation decision, the NAPA Board approved a budget measure whereby, starting with the 2005 Annual Meeting, all NAPA members will be eligible for a 50% discount on the price of one Annual Meeting workshop as a benefit of NAPA membership.

The Board will be considering ways in which we can create a resource pool to help individual members in need of financial assistance because of cancellation or change fees associated with the change in meeting dates and venues.

Please watch for a NAPA member web survey announcement soon. We will be seeking feedback from you on how events of recent weeks have affected member plans, finances, Atlanta meeting attendance, and other relevant matters. We also want your input on how to work with the Section Assembly and the AAA Executive Board to articulate a comprehensive policy statement concerning the criteria to be applied in selecting future AAA Annual Meeting venues, and what position NAPA should take on such matters.

Thanks to all for maintaining the generosity of spirit and civility of discourse that can only strengthen the impact we have on the world around us.

Ed Liebow
NAPA President

Anthropology & Environment Section Announcement

A Message From Tom Sheridan, President,  Anthropology & Environment Section
Based upon a poll of our members, the Anthropology & Environment Section of the AAA (539 members) has decided to hold its preliminary board and business meetings somewhere in the Bay area on Saturday, November 20, followed by email/virtual meetings in early December for members who won't be able to join us.
Anthropology & Environment would like to pool resources and coordinate our events with other AAA sections who also plan to meet in the Bay area.
I will be compiling an email list of A&E members who plan to attend.
I will also be compiling an email list of A&E members who want to join me in supporting UNITE HERE by walking picket lines and assisting the union in any way possible while we are in San Francisco.  Once I know how many of us want to help, I'll coordinate our efforts with Neal Kwatra and other UNITE HERE organizers.
From this initial effort, I will also encourage the Anthropology & Environment Section to commit itself to a longterm strategy to assist UNITE HERE in its efforts to secure living wages and decent health care for union workers everywhere.
In Solidarity,
Tom Sheridan
President, Anthropology & Environment

Latest SCA Statement on Meetings

October 28, 2004

Dear members of the Society for Cultural Anthropology:

Although AAA plans for the annual meeting are uncertain as I write, the SCA Board and I thought it would be a good time for an update. First of all I want to thank those of you who have communicated directly with us to express your views on the choices facing the AAA Executive Board: first with respect to the lock out at the San Francisco Hilton, then in its decision to move to a December meeting in Atlanta, and then to reconsider a San Francisco meeting in light of a possible cooling-off period. The SCA Board first passed a resolution in favor of respecting the picket line and meeting in San Jose; later we passed a resolution in favor of returning to San Francisco should a cooling off period ensue. I have also written personally to regional and national Hilton officials pledging to never schedule a meeting in a Hilton if the local consortium including the San Francisco Hilton did not agree to the cooling off period. All three statements are copied below, as well as what can only be called a non-reply from the Hilton Hotels Corporation.

The SCA Board has not yet taken a position with respect to the AAA plans to meet in Atlanta. We have, however, communicated with panel organizers and presenters on volunteered panels, asking them to let us know their intentions with respect to several possibilities (including deferral to next year's annual meeting). A copy of that e-mail is included below. We apologize if you should have received it and did not, and ask you to please communicate with SCA Program Chair Ana Alonso .

We are currently considering several options with respect to our annual Business Meeting. One of the options is an electronic meeting to be held either on the original meeting date, November 19, or on the new date assigned by AAA (likely December 17). We think that it is absolutely critical that the membership meets in some form to discuss the issues of labor relations, meeting structure, and governance that have been highlighted by this crisis. I would appreciate receiving any suggestions you may want to make regarding the scheduling, format, and agenda of the Business Meeting.

Thank you very much for reading still one more e-mail about this crisis. If you are interested in additional issue, I would refer you to the excellent web site of the American Ethnological Society. I welcome any and all messages from SCA members, and will share them with the SCA Board. I will also send the sense of the messages with Section Assembly Convener Dan Segal, who is our liaison with the AAA Executive Board.

Yours sincerely,
Polly Strong, SCA President

Poll: Staying in Atlanta?

AAAUnite supports the UNITE HERE workers call to patronize the Hyatt Regency -- the only union hotel in the city.

We would like to know what members going to Atlanta are going to do. Please take the poll, then post comments to this post.

See also:
Going to Atlanta? Stay in a Union-Friendly Hotel
UNITE HERE Statement on AAA Efforts


One of the biggest issues in the "long term struggle" spoken of by Neal Kwatra, is that the AAA will return to SF in 2006. This is a problem. Much of the current UNITE struggle is a desire by UNITE to extend their contract for two more years - at which time the contract will again come up for renewal. The difference will be, and the reason management is fighting this so fiercely, that in 2006 the contracts of additional hotel worker's all over the country will also come up for renewal at the same time. This means that the management will have to fight unions all over the country instead of only in SF. By swapping Atlanta this year for SF in 2006 the AAA has essentially put the problem on hold for two years rather than really solving it.

If you want to be involved in discussions about how to deal with such long term problems, please join the AAAUNITE e-mail list. To join the list, send an e-mail message to this address. You will receive a confirmation message. Just reply to this message and your subscription will be complete.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

UNITE HERE Statement on AAA Efforts

I am Neal Kwatra, a coordinator in the Strategic Affairs Department with UNITE HERE, the Union that represents the locked out workers in San Francisco.

Leaders and members of the AAA have asked me to address some of the issues your organization has been debating over the last week.

We sincerely appreciate the AAA for not crossing the picket line and moving the convention out of San Francisco, however, we would have preferred a different outcome than the contract swap with Hilton in Atlanta.

Thank you for all your hard work on this issue, our members in San Francisco and throughout the country truly appreciate your support and solidarity. The best way to support our locked out members in this struggle and long-term, is to work with us and other organizations on a long-term program to level the playing field between multinational hotel corporations and their workers.

The link below will give you an opportunity to better understand the issues our members are so courageously fighting for in San Francisco.

I think it is important to provide you with some of the history of our efforts to arrive at a solution that would work for the AAA, its members and for the thousands of locked out hotel workers on the streets in San Francisco, who are without livelihood for the duration of the lockout.

Our Union initially reached out to the AAA on August 30. We offered to work with your organization on alternative locations that would be of minimal disruption (San Jose). Because we have experience working with other groups, in the context of labor disputes, we offered to work with your staff on the liability issues as well. We offered to work in partnership to come up with a mutually beneficial situation for the AAA and our members in San Francisco. Unfortunately, we were never able to advance the conversation with your staff.

The first time anyone in the leadership or staff of the AAA reached out to our Union to discuss this situation was early last week when I received a call from President-elect Alan Goodman. He was very clear that his goal was to work with UNITE HERE in a constructive fashion to support our locked out members in SF, while simultaneously finding a viable solution for the AAA.

Despite good-faith efforts on his part to explore mutually beneficial options like San Jose, another school of thought prevailed. Alan Goodman has been a helpful partner in our collective efforts to support the locked out workers in SF and I look forward to working with him and others within the AAA as the struggle for hotel worker justice continues.

The AAA has an enormous amount of power in its relationships with corporations like Hilton. For the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world, what matters most is maintaining the AAA as a long-term client; they want your business year-after-year. They are too smart and savvy to risk severing a relationship with a key customer like the AAA over a situation like the one in San Francisco. In the big picture, $1.2 million is not what is important to them; a very long and very profitable relationship with the AAA and other academic organizations is more important to them in the long run than $1.2 million in the short term. Additionally, in a competitive marketplace they cannot afford a reputation as a company that sues its customers.

For an organization whose scholarship and research often focuses on power relationships, your organization made a decision, in my opinion, that did not take into account the power-you have as an organization-in your relationship with Hilton.

Having said that, we are especially grateful to the AAA members, leaders and activists who galvanized support among the membership and who lead the effort to convince the AAA's leadership that crossing a picket line in SF was completely antithetical to everything your organization stands for.

Many people have asked what the AAA can do moving forward to support the hotel workers struggle in SF and around the country. Given your unique relationship with the Hilton Corporation, concrete steps the AAA can take that would have a dramatic impact on the struggle of hotel workers in this country include:

· ensuring that your staff has strong "force majeure" language in your hotel contracts, to address labor disputes. You should never have to decide between the risk of litigation and crossing boycott or picket lines. We can work with the AAA on suggested ?force majeure? contract language.

· a wholesale reexamination of your relationship with Hilton Hotels. In order for there to be some lasting impact of your move out of San Francisco, Hilton needs to understand that a swap to Atlanta is not where the issue ends. It is my understanding that you are scheduled to be back at the San Francisco Hilton in 2006 and 2008, but you are not contractually obligated beyond that. We have very concrete ideas about what you can do with Hilton to have a broader impact on the current and long term struggle for justice for workers in the hotel industry and we would welcome the opportunity to work with all of you on those ideas.

We are working with many other academic organizations (Sociologists, Geographers, American Studies and others) and progressive groups (women's, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious) on a coordinated program to deal with the hotel industry. Your organization and others like it represent hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for these hotel corporations. We need to work together as a cohesive, progressive movement to affect real change in the relationship between these corporations and workers in the hotel industry.

Si Se Puede!

FYI- for those attending the meeting in Atlanta, the Hyatt Regency is currently our only union-hotel in Atlanta.

Hyatt Regency Atlanta
265 Peachtree Street North East
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 577-1234

For those of you who want to make a contribution to our locked out members in San Francisco, here is the information:

Local 2 Solidarity Fund
209 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

In Solidarity,
Neal Kwatra
Strategic Affairs Department

CAE President Emihovich Message to Section Heads


I am writing to let you know where CAE stands on the question of moving the annual meeting to Atlanta in December, and what further actions we plan to take. This chain of events has been very stressful and intense for everyone, and speaking for myself, I want to express my sympathies to the AAA Executive Board for having to make very difficult and complicated decisions in a condensed time period. Once we all have time to sit back and reflect on how this whole affair unfolded, it will be easier to see where key decisions or communication strategies could have been handled differently. However, the one point that is highly commendable, and one that we should not lose sight of, is that a major professional organization has taken action on a labor issue in a manner that is unprecedented in my experience. While we may express disagreement over how the decision was made and the nature of the decision itself, I cannot think of any other organization that would have been willing to confront the issue of crossing picket lines head–on. Most would have continued business as usual, and hoped for the best in terms of member compliance. Reading the emails from other sections as well as my own about the need to maintain solidarity with struggling workers whose lives are so much more impoverished than ours has made me proud to be a member of AAA/CAE, and I hope we will keep that commitment alive as we sort through all the ensuing complications that will now follow from this year’s meeting.

Based on extensive polling of our membership, and the CAE Board of Directors, there is overwhelming support for the position that we will not hold our program in Atlanta. For many members, some of whom wrote long and passionate emails, their opposition was based on the principles of supporting equity and social justice, and also concerns over the way the decision process was handled. Many people felt they simply did not have enough information to evaluate fairly all the potential alternatives, and the speed at which information could be sent, without having any way to assess its accuracy, made the situation even more problematic. For others, the sheer logistics of having to change tickets, exam schedules, appointment deadlines, etc. were simply overwhelming, especially when the location seemed to change daily. Finally, the Board felt that given the strong feelings expressed by many members, and faced with the fact of our membership already declining, we realized that holding our program in Atlanta would only accelerate these losses. I should note that while we will not have a formal program there, we understand that individuals may still choose to attend to meet other section commitments, or go the job interviews. Our action should not be interpreted as a formal boycott, but as one that builds upon member consensus, while honoring individuals’ right to make their own choices relevant to their needs.

We have also decided to hold a sectional conference in SF at the November meeting time. We are doing this because many of our doctoral students and junior scholars need the opportunity to have senior scholars available to hear their work, and this would not happen in Atlanta. We are calling it a sectional conference and not a counter conference because we do not want to give the impression we are disconnecting from AAA. In fact, we see this sectional conference as very much in the spirit of AAA from its earlier beginnings that may auger a transformed model for doing conferences along the lines of an email that was sent earlier (I have received so many I can longer find it). We have already arranged hotel and meeting space, and we invite other sections who may be interested in partnering with us to share the space (and the costs). If you are interested in doing so, please contact Yuri Wellington at this address: Please do so immediately since our plans are being finalized now. Even if you do not want to share space, we would like to know about other sections’ plan in SF so we can communicate across disciplines. Finally, we invite the AAA Executive Board to meet with us there so we can discuss how to move forward in the future. If you cannot attend in person, we will look into ways of setting up a conference call.

Our last decision is that we will send some representatives to the Atlanta meeting to attend the Section Assembly to give voice to our concerns and to participate in the broader decision-making process. Regardless of the choices other sections make, we will hope they will send their representatives to Atlanta so AAA can meet as a deliberative body. We need to process all the implications that will now follow from this chain of events, and even in a technologically advanced society, face-to face contact is still important. One lesson we can all take from what has happened is that the speed of communication has a power to shape the dynamics and outcomes of a situation far beyond what many of us could even have anticipated or imagined. Figuring out how to harness this power to accomplish the organization’s goals will be a central task in deciding how this organization will continue.

This has truly been an extraordinary set of circumstances, and I imagine we will be unpacking it, deconstructing it, or analyzing it for many years to come. An organizational ethnography of this process is likely to serve as a topic for dissertations to come. Strong feelings have been expressed in many emails, but based on what I am seeing in my section emails, there is an enormous energy level and sense of commitment that if channeled appropriately, can help transform AAA into the kind of organization that many of us believed it to be when we first joined. CAE looks forward to working with all our colleagues to help make this happen.

Catherine Emihovich

CAE President

Send a message to the hotel companies!


A number of international hotel chains, including the Hyatt, Hilton, and Holiday Inn groups, have radically escalated a bargaining impasse in San Francisco by locking out 4,000 unionized hotel workers. Most of the locked out workers are relatively low wage people of color, and the lock out is imposing severe financial stress. The hotels are taking a very hard line, refusing mediation by the mayor and refusing to even appear before the county board of supervisors. The mayor is so concerned that he has announced he is going to start picketing the hotels himself! The primary issues in the impasse are health care benefits, wages, and the length of a contract.

In recent decades, many of the hotels locking out their workers have become part of international chains, so that decisions about working conditions in San Francisco are now made by CEOs in far off distant cities. The chains are able to use the continuing revenues of their other hotels to offset any losses in San Francisco, while the low wage workers being locked out have no where to turn.

Locking out workers is a cowardly way to resolve differences. The hotel CEOs should immediately cease their lockout and resolve their differences at the bargaining table.

Call on the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, the group of 14 hotels currently running the lockout, to end their lock out and agree to the proposed 90-day cooling off period so they can get back to bargaining in good faith with their employees:

Click here to take action!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Latest San Jose CVB Offer

Dear Colleagues:

As you are by now aware, the SF Multi-Employer Group (MEG) hotels have refused the offer of a "cooling-off" period. UNITE HERE and Mayor Gavin Newsome favored this effort to get
workers back on the job and the parties to the labor dispute back to the bargaining table.

As you are also aware, a vast majority of AAA members are emailing one another with one simple question, "Where is the 2004 American Anthropological Association Meeting going to be

As you may not be aware, the San Jose Convention and Visitors' Bureau claims to have been negotiating with AAA leadership over the past few days regarding holding the meeting in San Jose (see latest letter from them below. I will send it -- and the previous correspondence -- to you as an attachment if you email me offlist).

It is my opinion -- having spoken with many of you and with many UNITE HERE members, that this move would make sense for the following reasons:

1) According the David Glenn, the Chronicle of Higher Education reporter I spoke with yesterday, the AAA contract with the Atlanta Hilton has an "attrition" clause. If his conversation with me accurately depicts the situation, this makes the Atlanta contract very different from the one the AAA had with the SF Hilton. In essence, what this means is that the AAA is guaranteeing the Atlanta Hilton a certain number of rooms will be occupied. If this agreed-to occupation is not met, the AAA will be liable for any unsold reservations.

This is problematic for three reasons. First, it is a major blow to the locked-out workers of UNITE HERE Local 2, since we are guaranteeing revenue to the company that is denying
them access to their jobs. Likewise, any effect the effort by members of the AAA to "boycott" the Atlanta Hilton by not staying or eating there is therefore null and void. Second, it exposes
the AAA to the very costs we were, the members were told this move would be saving us. Finally, unlike the SF or SJ Hilton's the Atlanta hotel is corporate owned. The Hilton
Corporation realizes relatively little in profits from its franchised hotels like those in SF and SJ. In comparison, it receives all of the profit from the hotels, like the one in Atlanta, that it owns outright.

2) Speaking of costs, as several people have pointed out, the move to Atlanta -- rather than some locale nearby SF -- effectively removes economic exposure from the shoulders of
the organization and hoists it onto those among its members least able to afford it. Those who have purchased non-refundable tickets, who have paid huge conference registration fees to attaned a conference they cannot go to because of teaching, family, and scholarly obligations, and who have visas to negotiate are OVERWHELMINGLY grad students, adjuncts, part-timers,
and "marginalized" members of the AAA (I put this in quotes to refer to us -- I'm a grad student with a non-refundable ticket and an exam to give during the proposed December dates -- because I am loathe to equate my troubles with those faced by the locked-out hotel workers).

3) San Jose has waived the fee for using their Convention Center. They have guaranteed room rates at least as low as the ones in SF. The SJCVB and UNITE HERE continue to promise logistical support, including arranging transportation for AAA members flying in to SF.

4) UNITE HERE have communicated in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that, while they appreciate the pressure put on by a move to Atlanta, they would prefer the move to San Jose, since the
MEG hotel chains and the Hilton in particular will not realize the bulk of the revenue from hotel stays in SJ. Visit to see that they have approved the union hotels in San Jose for all travellers concerned about labor issues.

5) As the article in today's LA Times Business section entitled "U.S. Travel Business on Road to Recovery" makes clear the SF Hilton is entirely dependent on its massive profits from business like ours. Likewise, the Hilton Corporation, whose "earnings jumped 79% in the third quarter"
with the "company expect[ing] more good times ahead," would have its good times on our Atlanta dime and on the backs of the locked-out workers.

6) The move to SJ would accomodate the greatest number of registered members still able to go, facilitating face-to-face dialogue on the burning issues of ethics and governance
that this issue has made abudantly clear. Job seekers would be able to go to the conference with some assurance that anyone seeking applicants is actually going to be there. Several sections have already moved their panels to other sites in the Bay Area.

I fear that this issue is tearing our association apart. The discipline and its association have too great a value to me to quietly watch that happen.

In solidarity as an anthropologist, a dues-paying member of the AAA, and a labor activist,

Robert T. O'Brien

October 26, 2004
Ms. Elizabeth Brumfiel, President
Mr. Alan Goodman, President Elect
American Anthropological Association
Via E Mail

Dear Ms. Brumfiel and Mr. Goodman:

At your request, some final points in our bid to host the American Anthropological Association’s 103rd Annual Meeting in our city. Our community is ready and capable of welcoming
your attendees with little to no inconvenience to them. We will work with you and your team to make the transition from San Francisco to San Jose a smooth one. This letter
supercedes all previous offers extended and represents our most current proposal to the American Anthropological Association to host the 2004 Annual Meeting in San Jose.

I would like to point out a few benefits of bringing this program to San Jose versus another city:
• Proximity to San Francisco: Just 35 miles from San Francisco International Airport, airline tickets will not need to be changed. Shuttle service to/from San Jose is affordable and convenient. It is likely that your travelers have already booked flights into Oakland, San Jose or San Francisco for the November program so no flight changes will likely be needed. Main carriers into San Jose International Airport are Southwest and American, two stable and affordable airlines.
• “Big fish” in our city: The American Anthropological Association will take over the downtown area and be the sole focus of our community to ensure the success of your program.
• Our hotel rates will be confirmed not to exceed your highest contracted rates in San Francisco at our nationally recognized brands (Marriott, Fairmont, Hilton, Crowne Plaza,
Hyatt) all within 2 blocks of our Convention Center.
• Based up your sleeping room actualization of 6,000 total rooms (1650 rooms on peak nights) as communicated to us by your meeting planner, the American Anthropological Association will realize $300,000 from the hotel community and city. Historically, the American Association
Anthropological Association has utilized 7,400+ sleeping rooms when the program was in the Bay Area.
• The San Jose McEnery Convention Center, CenterPlate and Team San Jose are offering an additional $150,000 in cash value to the American Anthropological Association in the form
of waived convention center rental, Food and Beverage discounts, labor consideration and complimentary housing.

We are confident that this will be a most successful conference for AAA and await your “green light”. In fact, we look forward to bringing AAA back to San Jose in years to come after you have had a successful conference in 2004 in San Jose!


Daniel Fenton
President and CEO
(408) 792-4107
cc: The Honorable Mayor Ron Gonzales

Hotels reject Mayor's proposed "cooling off" period

Breaking news:

Facing a deadline and an ultimatum from San Francisco's mayor, the operators of 14 hotels at the center of a protracted labor dispute refused Tuesday to end their four-week lockout of unionized employees while contract negotiations proceed.

SF Chronicle: Back to the Hotels!

It seems that "[o]ne professional association is weighing whether to move a 5,000-member convention to Atlanta in December unless calm is restored. This gathering is worth an estimated $3 million to local business. San Francisco cannot afford to start losing major conventions."

Chronicle editorial staff say:
All things considered, the hotels should drop this precondition and let the workers return. Doing so won't detract from the bargaining needed to settle a situation that has idled 4,000 workers and is threatening to chase away important business.

American Prospect Article

This is a great piece about the lock-out and the effect we've had so far on moving UNITE HERE worker's struggles forward in The American Prospect

Mayor threatens to join picket line!

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threatened Monday to join hotel workers on their picket lines today unless hotel owners end a four-week lockout and allow employees to return to their jobs for a 90-day cooling-off period.

And guess whose in the news?
The dispute has already caused the organizers of one major convention to consider moving elsewhere. More than 5,000 delegates of the American Anthropological Association scheduled to meet Nov. 17-21 at the San Francisco Hilton might instead meet in Atlanta. Organizers of the convention said Monday they want to learn the response to Newsom's request. The Hilton is one of the four hotels where workers struck on Sept. 29 and one of the 14 where the lockout continues.

... The group sides ideologically with the union, and Brumfiel has written that "anthropologists cannot, in all good conscience, meet in facilities whose owners are using the lockout of low-wage workers as a bargaining tactic.''

There is a lot more the AAA needs to do to ensure that we can handle situations like this better in the future, but the SF Chronicle article makes it clear that we are already helping UNITE workers win this fight!

UPDATE: More in the Chronicle of Higher Educaiton:

Labor Strife at San Francisco Hotels Prompts Anthropologists to Tentatively Move Annual Meeting

Robert T. O'Brien, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Temple University who maintains a Weblog about the meeting dispute, said in an interview on Monday that he would bring several resolutions to the Atlanta meeting. They would require the association to purchase insurance and negotiate opt-out clauses that would give it more leverage during similar disputes in the future.

Mr. O'Brien said that he was personally disappointed with the Atlanta arrangement, but he urged his fellow activists to have sympathy for members of the association's executive board. "They operated under a timeline, thinking about real issues, like whether we're going to be liable for $1.5-million," he said. "It's a question of picking one's battles. If we bankrupt the organization, then we won't be around to push the Hilton or the U.N. Commission on Human Rights or anyone else in the future."

Monday, October 25, 2004

UNITE HERE and Anthropologists Claim Victory, Vow to Continue Fight

UNITE HERE and Anthropologists Claim Victory, Vow to Continue Fight

Last Friday, the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Executive Board made the decision to move its annual meeting from the San Francisco Hilton, one of the 14 San Francisco Multi-Employer Group (MEG) hotels that have locked out UNITE HERE workers. The AAA acted on behalf of several thousand members pre-registered for the meeting, a majority of whom indicated in an email poll that they would prefer to move or cancel the meeting, rather than cross picket lines.

The AAA move represents a victory for the locked-out workers. In the past, more than 5000 professional and student anthropologists have attended annual meetings held in San Francisco. The financial loss to the city in conference business is estimated at over $5 million. This will likely give UNITE HERE greater leverage in convincing San Francisco politicians to intervene in the labor standoff that has paralyzed tourism and created economic hardships for 4000 low-wage, predominantly immigrant hotel workers. Additionally, Hilton Corporation faces a significant loss of revenue, as the relocated conference is likely to be substantially smaller than it would have been in San Francisco.

The lockout occurred after a two-week strike of UNITE HERE Local 2 that began September 29. Local 2 represents 85% of the employees at more than 60 San Francisco hotels and motels. Negotiations have deadlocked over health care benefits, pensions, fair wage increases, and the length of the contract. To date, efforts of the union and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to negotiate a 90-day “cooling off” period (allowing the workers to return to their jobs while labor talks resumed), have been unsuccessful. The local, which represents cooks, room cleaners, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, housemen, and dishwashers, is advocating on behalf of one of the most vulnerable employment sectors in the country. Some workers have said they are at risk of missing rent or mortgage payments if the lockout continues.

For the past two weeks, email boxes and websites of the AAA and its Sections have been filled with hundreds of comments on the labor dispute. Many anthropologists study immigration and work, some even study union struggles, and we have a long tradition of supporting marginalized groups. The recent rise of “public anthropology” represents the increasing trend within the discipline for anthropologists to apply their work to policy issues, and to speak out about people's real problems. The AAA’s Code of Ethics and its Statement on Human Rights further support the rights of workers to organize. Issues of cooperation between established and immigrant workers and access to benefits such as healthcare, pensions and employment security have been paid particularly close attention by recent anthropological work.

Many analysts see this as a crucial time for labor struggles, as workers in the US service industry are increasingly marginalized in an economy characterized by drops in purchasing power for workers, cuts to healthcare benefits, and an increasing gap between rich and poor. The UNITE HERE strike is a historic opportunity for this union to gain real bargaining power on two fronts: First, they are in the forefront of organizing for the rights of immigrants, and for hiring of more black workers, who today represent only 5% of the MEG workforce. Second, they are negotiating a contract that would end in 2006, which would put them in the same bargaining cycle as UNITE HERE locals in other cites, lending the union important leverage when negotiating with powerful transnational hotel corporations.

The decision to move the meeting is a clear victory for UNITE HERE’s local 2. It is also a victory for AAA members, who continue to work with their board to ensure that the Association supports the rights of workers in the future. AAA members will urge their board to move forward with plans to adopt “opt-out” contracts in the event of vendor labor disputes and to consider a freeze on dealings with the Hilton and other MEG hotel chains until the lock-out ends.

UNITE HERE has made clear that the best way to support their struggle is to cancel contracts and reservations with the MEG hotels that are locking out workers. While moving or canceling the conference at first blush may appear costly and inconvenient, the City of San Francisco’s loss is another city’s (and its hotel industry's) gain. This fact is not lost on the city of San Jose, whose Convention & Visitors Bureau went to great lengths to accommodate the projected hotel, meeting space, and travel needs of the AAA conventioneers, in hopes of luring the association’s meeting. And herein may lie a lesson for the hotel industry, other municipalities, and conference planners throughout the country - that in these times of renewed labor organizing, it may pay to support rather than lock-out one's employees.

Robert T. O’Brien, PhD Candidate
Adjunct Instructor, Temple University
AAAUnite Ad Hoc Committee

Why SF Hilton/MEG Hotels, and not AAA leadership are our primary target

As my letter to the board makes clear, we need to continue to work together to reform the AAA. However, as the following makes clear, our primary target has to be the SF Hilton and the MEG Hotels that continue to lock-out experienced workers.

What follows is an email sent from President-Elect Alan Goodman to SCA President Pauline Turner Strong, in response to Polly's request for a report on Alan's conversations with UNITE HERE activists.

Alan included on the "cc" list Neil Kwatra of UNITE HERE, so Neil has seen this account of these conversations.

Dear Pauline,

I’m glad you asked. As you suggest, what others have reported directly or indirectly from UNITE/HERE is inconsistent with what I have been told. I agree with Dan that others need to do what I am doing, so that we can get a coherent take on UNITE/HERE’s position on our move to Atlanta. I apologize in advance for the haste in writing this letter. I am catching a plane this morning o William and Mary and Duke, where I will be all week. If any details are unclear, please ask and I will respond from there.

Last Wednesday (October 20), I called Francis Engler, someone I know who is an organizer, along with his brother, for UNITE/HERE in LA. I did so as an individual. Nobody asked me. I wanted to get his sense of what was possible from the perspective of his union. When I remembered that Francis was an organizer, I called him. Francis reinforced my understanding that this was an important strike (with national implications). He was the first to tell me that the SF pickets are fierce. He also promised to get me the name of the person who would be best to call, Neal Kwatra, a coordinator in DC (Neil is CCed on this email).

I talked to Neil the next morning, just before the AAA executive board teleconference, and since then we have talked about 4-5 times. During the first conversation, I asked Neil what he thought from the union’s perspective about a move to another Hilton (I may have even said Atlanta). He said, and I agreed, that it would not be as complete a victory as moving to San Jose, but nonetheless, it would be a big victory for the union and a major move in support of the union. Neil was respectful and lovely in that he expressed that Unite/Here would help with our move to San Jose, if we did that. He expressed that San Jose might be a better move for AAA. He thinks we have lots of clout with Hilton and is less concerned than our lawyer with a big lawsuit. The point is simply that his preference for San Jose was seemingly based more on his thinking it would be better for AAA. From his union perspective, I think it is safe to say he was extremely pleased, period.

Neil called me at home on Thursday night, after the board had voted. He somehow already knew of our actions, in some detail, but he did not know all the details. He asked me if I would confirm that we were not going to meet in SF (and cross the picket lines) because UNITE/HERE was meeting later that evening in SF and this would be just fantastic news for them. He seemed to know that we were going to a city other than San Jose. I did my best to keep the exec board decision in confidence. However, I did not deny the rumor.

Neil and I talked again on Friday and Saturday (October 22, 23). Neil had not known the detail that our contract specifies that we are to go back to San Francisco in 2006. He expressed concern that the contract was a bad move for AAA because it potentially puts us back in the same position two years from now. I again expressed that it was the executive board’s primary goal to move the meetings to another location in support of the union. I again asked him to state his approval of the move and again he expressed appreciation. I brought up the irony of going to a nonunion hotel. This did not seem to concern him. He did say that Hilton Atlanta is a “corporate” Hilton versus the one in San Jose (I’m still not clear on the difference). He told me that our meetings canceling would be a big deal! In the end, he said that of course the AAA canceling and moving to Atlanta is a significant victory for Unite/Here.

I expressed my thanks to Neil and as I have told others, I told him that the one bright spot of our canceling and moving is that I had gotten to know more about his union and what they are fighting for. We talked about continuing our relationship and other things that AAA could do to show support. One idea is for the membership to contribute to a large newspaper add in support of the union. As for 2006, I told him that as incoming president, I hoped we will work together long before the actual meeting date to make sure that something like what happens this year does not happen again and that it actually could be a positive experience.



PS my father worked for 40+ years as a member of the National Union of Pipefitters and I was able to go to college, in part, because of a scholarship from his union.

Mayor asks for cooling-down period

Breaking news:

Mayor Gavin Newsom on Sunday asked labor leaders and the management of 14 hotels embroiled in a nearly month-old dispute to resume normal operations for at least 90 days while the two sides try to negotiate a new contract.

In a letter requesting a 90-day "cooling off" period, Newsom said the dispute has caused "significant disruption" to San Francisco residents and visitors, threatening to harm the city's economic recovery.

That "disruption" is us!!! Way to go AAA!!!

Newsom wants hotel management to end the lockout from Oct. 27 through Jan. 25, while labor leaders agree not to strike during that span. He asked for a response by Tuesday afternoon.

The hotels plan to respond by the deadline, said Cornell Fowler, a spokesman for the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group.

The union will eagerly agree to a cooling off period, said Mike Casey, president of Unite Local 2.

Let's see what happens.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

E-mail your support of the locked out workers!

The following is the text of a campaign by LaborStart to have people all over the world write e-mails in support of the locked out workers.

Over 4,000 hotel workers are locked out of 14 downtown San Francisco hotels. The hotel companies have put a contract proposal on the table with miniscule pay increases and which would require hotel workers to make copays that would put health benefits out of reach for most workers. The workers are on picket lines 24 hours a day and fighting back, but they need your support.

On September 29th, Workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 2 went on strike in four downtown San Francisco hotels. The workers were seeking a measured step to move the hotel companies forward in negotiations that had been badly stalled. UNITE HERE Local 2 announced at the time of the strike that they would return to work after two weeks. The hotel employers in San Francisco responded by locking workers out in ten additional hotels. Later they announced that the lockout would last indefinitely.

Workers in San Francisco are seeking a contract that maintains their benefits, includes reasonable wage increases and a contract which expires in 2006 along with many other major hotel cities in North America. The companies have responded by proposing miniscule wage increases and benefit takeaways over the course of a 5-year contract. Hotel workers in Washington DC and Los Angeles, CA are locked in similar struggles with their employers.

Please support Hotel Workers in San Francisco and elsewhere by sending the message below to the Hotel CEOs.

Mailing List

We are starting a mailing list to coordinate all the various activities being planned. To join the list, send an e-mail message to You will receive a confirmation message. Just reply to this message and your subscription will be complete.

Share your links

For those of you not familiar with, it is a social bookmark service. It lets you bookmark web pages, assign "tags" to your bookmarks, and then see who else shares bookmarks with the same tag. Sounds complicated, but it is really very simple. For instance, anyone can join and add bookmarks with the tag "aaaunite" and then you can see all the bookmarks with that tag here:

This is a great way for us to all share useful links! Or, you can just bookmark that page and keep up with the links as they are added.


As Rob said, "there is no call from AAAUnite to boycott the Atlanta meeting," as a result the wording of the poll has been changed to say "not attend" rather than "boycott." Similarly, whereas before it said "San Jose" now it says "Oakland or San Jose" as Oakland looks more and more likely as an alternative venue.

From the comments:
Several anthropologists from UCDavis have begun setting up a website,, to organize a presence at any AAA meeting to take place in Atlanta.

This site is not operational yet, but once it is that will be a good place to organize any activities planned for the Atlanta meeting. This site will stay focused on organizing coordination among the various groups who are planning activities in Oakland and San Jose during the originally planned conference time slot in November.

Currently over 316 people have signed the petition. And 150 people have taken our poll (the vast majority of whom plan to attend the counter-conference and don't plan on going to Atlanta). Spread the word!

Everything is happening very quickly, so stay tuned!

Moving Forward

I've composed the following quick synopsis of current thinking on the matter of counter-conference(s) and progressive attendance at Atlanta. Please forward as you wish.

What we do not want to do is 1) undercut the UNITE HERE claim of victory or 2) dissipate the bargaining power of the AAA any further by balkanizing it.

With regard to what a counter-conference should be, we plan a two-fold strategy of supporting UNITE HERE and, more to the point as AAA members, of convening to build a strong movement to reform the AAA at the Atlanta meeting. The option of San Jose is on the table, but many (including me) now believe that Oakland could be a better option. Many anthropologists at departments in Berkeley and SFSU have offered space. There are a critical mass of people coming to San Francisco. UNITE HERE has offered logistical support. We could hold the counter-conference in Oakland, thereby maintaining the union's economic pressure on SF.

Finally, there is no call from AAAUnite to boycott the Atlanta meeting. We need to have a progressive presence there so that reforms get made and regressive or watered-down positions do not dominate the Annual Meetings.

Those of us who can will go to Atlanta and demand change at the AAA, having first worked out our resoultions and tactics in Oakland.

Demands made (and to be discussed) thus far include: 1) The AAA staff cease all negotiations with hotel chains currently involved in labor diputes until the disputes have ended 2) To the greatest extent possible, the AAA must consider utilizing city and county-owned convention centers with union contracts in good standing, rather than hotels as meeting sites in the future 3) The AAA resolve to refuse any future business to the Hilton Corporation, 4) The staff insert an opt-out clause in the event of strikes of lockouts in all of our vender contracts. 5) The staff agressively negotiate with all vendors in a manner consistent with the guiding principles of the AAA. This must include reviewing the contracts in Virginia which preclude the possibility of extending domestic partner benefits. 6) The AAA immediately purchase cancelation insurance. 7) The AAA immediately make a substantial donation to support the locked-out workers' support fund. 8) The establishment of a forum linked to the AAA web site to will facilitate organizational-wide communication among individuals and across sections.

There remain serious concerns: the manner in which the Executive Committee initiated the survey; the lack of detailed information on the San Jose alternatives that so many members have decried; the utter disregard of the survey results once he tally was taken; and the cross- and missed communication among AAA Sections. These will require focused and ongoing effort to resolve and move to forward as a united organization.

Much of this has been watered-down because of the need for rhetoric at particular moments, but this is the long-term vision. I hope that you consider these thoughts.

Best, Rob O'Brien, on behalf of the AAAUnite Ad Hoc Committee

Online Petition

Vanessa deKoninck has set up an online petition.

If you know of any other links, please send them to us!

Open Thread

After you vote in the poll, please leave feedback in the comments to this post.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Would Atlanta even work?

With the AAA executive board trying to convince members that Atlanta is the best of all possible worlds (even though it is in an non-union Hilton run hotel), posts to sub-section e-mail lists are making it increasingly clear that it simply won't work.

No matter what people feel about the ethical issues involved, many schools have their exam periods during that time, others have already booked trips to other parts of the world, and still others simply can't afford it. So even if there is no official boycott of Atlanta, it is unlikely that many people will show up. Some sections are already discussing moving their sectional venues to other locations. For instance, there is a proposal to move the SEAA meetings to the annual Asian Studies conference which most members already attend. This isn't a call for succession, but just a practical solution to trying to arrange SEAA business at a time that people will actually be there!

In choosing Atlanta the AAA board chose a solution that was convenient for two parties: them and the Hilton management. It is not a solution that is convenient for anyone else and it won't work for that reason.

San Jose would have be at the same time as the original event, and for that reason could really work.

See here and here for previous posts about moving the conference to San Jose.

It isn't too late to get the AAA to change their minds!

Snatching Victory

UNITE HERE has won an incredible victory, which the AAA has helped them accomplish. The union estimates that the move costs San Francisco over $5 million and pressures elected officials to finally take a stand against the lock-out.

While we have to support this UNITE HERE victory, within the organization we need to press for:
1) Demand that the AAA staff cease all negotiations with hotel chains currently involved in labor diputes until the disputes have ended.
2) Demand that the AAA resolve to refuse any future business to the Hilton Corporation,
3) Demand that the staff insert an opt-out clause in the event of strikes of lockouts in all of our vender contracts.
4) Demand that the staff agressively negotiate with all vendors in a manner consistent with the guiding principles of the AAA. This must include reviewing the contracts in Virginia which preclude the possibility of extending domestic partner benefits.
5) Demand that the AAA immediately purchase cancelation insurance.
6) Demand that the AAA immediately make a substantial donation to support the locked-out workers' support fund.

This takes the pressure off of the board to deal with these issues and allows them to focus on other areas of governance. These issues, which include the manner in which the Executive Committee initiated the survey, the lack of detailed information on the San Jose alternatives that so many members have decried, the utter disregard of the survey results once the tally was taken, and the cross- and missed communication among AAA Sections.

In solidarity,


Reasons for continuing in San Jose

I personally support a continued push for AAA or a counter-conference to be held in San Jose from 11/17-11/21.

The benefits of this are that
1) San Francisco still does not see financial gain from our conference,
2) San Jose CVB have increased the financial incentives involved,
3) San Jose CVB and UNITE HERE have pledged logistical support including space and travel considerations,
4) UNITE HERE have begun approaching internationally known labor and immigrants' right leaders to speak at the conference,
5) We can join the UNITE HERE pickets in San Francisco. An electronic signup sheet for continued organizing for the AAA or the Counter-Conference is at:

Latest Offer from the San Jose CVB

October 23, 2004

To the Leader’s of the American Anthropological Association:

It is understood that your organization is leaning towards a decision to relocate your November 2004 conference to Atlanta. We understand the decision being made to be primarily out of financial obligation. It goes without saying that our destination is eager to host your conference. As further demonstration of our commitment, we offer to increase our financial consideration to $450,000.00.

We feel strongly that San Jose represents the perfect alternative and that our commitment and financial contribution will encourage you to rethink your position.

Thank you for you consideration. Let’s work together to provide your attendees and organization with a hugely successful program in 2004.

Daniel Fenton
President and CEO

cc: The Honorable Mayor Ron Gonzales

A proposal from Sandy Smith-Nonini

Rob -- Please post this on your blog site. Thanks -- Sandy

A proposal for discussion among sections that favored the Hilton boycott: I think that what this whole debacle shows us in part is the unwieldy nature of the AAA annual meeting, and the corporate environs in which it must be held by virtue of the AAA's sheer size. This issue is related to the enormous increase in registration fees we've seen in the last decade for the AAA meeting ($165 pre-reg, $195 regular reg. this year!)

My proposal would be to take advantage of this moment, and the inter-section dialogs over the Hilton strike, to consider options for a future alternative meeting strategy within the organization. I am cognizant that the AAA makes contracts with hotels years in advance, but this does not mean we cannot begin to plan for future changes. Some of the changes already proposed, such as strike clauses in contracts with hotels, and some living wage requirements for hotels with which we contract are good ideas. I would like to go further, and recommend that we revisit the whole concept of an annual meeting of 4000(+) members.

For example, one alternative would be to hold a biennial meeting, rather than annual; and during the interim year hold multi-section meetings, with the combinations of sections at any one meeting varying somewhat from one year to the next. This would allow us to make use of alternative and more affordable venues, including university campuses and public buildings, and some smaller cities, rather than bouncing back and forth between the Hilton and Marriott in expensive downtown settings of major cities. It would also make for more meaningful and less alienating meetings with perhaps longer sessions and more round-table and discussion opportunities. Such venues would also better enable collaboration with community organizations -- right now this is difficult to arrange at a AAA meeting. We could make a special effort to avoid the breakdown into the old 4-field categories by combining sections that cross over these lines in different years.

This is not unlike what happens with several sections already -- AES and SANA and many other sections hold separate meetings now, but due to the cost and organizational demands, it is difficult for smaller sections to do this alone. Further, many of us, whose institutions have limited travel funds, must already decide whether to attend the AAA meeting or a meeting more in line with our specialty areas, or pay out of pocket for the second meeting. In the strategy I am proposing, the sections would get more assistance than they currently receive from the national office in planning multi-section meetings in the interim years between national meetings. Special arrangements would be need to provide for AAA services, such as job search assistance and press rooms at smaller meetings in the interim years, and there would probably be a need for an executive meeting of officers in years when the whole AAA does not meet. I'd be interested to hear what people think of this idea, and other suggestions for developing an annual meeting strategy that is more people-friendly and democratic, and less beholden to corporate interests.

Sandy Smith-Nonini
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Elon University


We've added a poll on the side. Your vote can help us plan and organize. If you haven't read about the counter-conference yet, please read this post before voting.

We also have a dedicated e-mail address. You can contact us at And feel free to leave comments here on the blog!


CAE Position on the Hilton

Dear Liz,

Based on information we have learned as to what the move to Atlanta would mean in terms of accommodating the Hilton and not supporting the strike, I believe most CAE members (including this president) would refuse to attend. You can expect to receive separate emails from ourmembers on this issue. We understand a very viable option has beenpresented by the city of San Jose, and most members would support adecision to move the conference there. We will also help support anylegal costs that may ensue, although many of us believe the Hilton willback down given the possibility of losing the conference with all itsnegative publicity.

Catherine Emihovich
CAE president
"Whatever you must do, do it now: the conditions are always impossible"--- Doris Lessing

What's at stake?

At the time of this writing, several sections of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) are calling for a boycott of the San Francisco Hilton. The boycott is being called because the AAA, which represents thousands of professional and student anthropologists, has scheduled its annual meeting to take place at the Hilton, one of the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group (MEG) hotels locking out UNITE HERE workers.

For the past two weeks, the electronic discussion groups of the AAA and its section groups have been discussing the labor dispute between UNITE HERE Local 2 and the MEG. Local 2 represents 85% of the employees at more than 60 San Francisco hotels and motels. Its members began a two-week strike against four MEG hotels on September 29th. MEG then locked workers out of 10 of its other hotels. Although UNITE HERE and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom attempted to negotiate a 90-day ?cooling off? period during which the union and MEG would resume labor talks, MEG has continued to lock 4,000 workers out. These workers are the cooks, room cleaners, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, bussers, housemen, PBX operators and dishwashers who are in one of the most vulnerable employment sectors in the country.

The UNITE HERE strike is an historic opportunity for this union to gain real bargaining power. In addition to fighting givebacks in healthcare and increased workloads due to layoffs after September 11, 2001, UNITE HERE is working on two issues of utmost importance to labor (and to the many anthropologists who are themselves union members). First, they have been in the forefront of organizing for the rights of immigrant workers, while maintaining a focus on the civil rights of the African American workers who have made up the union's base. Second, they are negotiating a contract that would end in 2006, which would put them in the same bargaining cycle as other UNITE
HERE locals. This would make it far more difficult for the major hotel chains to broker deals with individual locals one at a time.

Given the losses suffered by workers in recent years, the increased importance of defending collective bargaining and immigrants? rights, and the potential gains offered by this strike, those who support labor must support this effort.

There are genuine concerns for the AAA however. The AAA Executive Committee has been negotiating to hold its only annual professional meeting in a way that meets its members needs. It remains unclear which party to the AAA/Hilton contract is liable if the hotel cannot guarantee quality service because they have locked out their unionized employees. At stake, according to a researcher at UNITE HERE, is about $5 million of revenue for the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Hilton.

Yet, the AAA Code of Ethics, its Statement on Human Rights, and the entire area of "public" anthropology make the case for supporting the rights of workers to organize, supporting cooperation between established workers and immigrant workers, and analyzing and addressing the issues of access to healthcare, employment, etc.

As members of this professional organization, we have duties as well as rights. We should not, on the one hand, take advantage of what the organization has to offer to further our careers and, on the other, ignore the ethical positions the organization has taken over years of deliberation and struggle. As anthropologists we have a duty to address people's real problems.

UNITE HERE has made clear that the best way to support their struggle is to cancel contracts and reservations with the MEG hotels. Moving or canceling the conference may be costly. It will certainly be inconvenient. However, it is neither so costly nor so inconvenient as a loss would be for UNITE HERE.

Letter to AAA President Re: Move to Atlanta

Dear President Brumfiel,

I am deeply ashamed at this moment. Any acceptance of an offer from the Hilton Corporation to bait and switch the UNITE HERE workers and the AAA membership is completely unacceptable.

Despite the fact that 56% of the membership who were registered for the conference voted to move to San Jose or cancel, despite the fact that the remaining respondents wished not to cross a picket line, despite the wishes of the members of UNITE HERE -- who support the move to San Jose, even if some of us must stay in a Hilton there, you have decided to cross the picket line.

And to do it in a way that shames us as members of the AAA.

Even if one were only to consider the welfare of the AAA, this is outrageous.

First, we have an incredibly viable option to move the conference to San Jose. As you are aware, the San Jose Convention and Vistors' Bureau (SJCVB) has offered to negotiate airfare changes to San Jose and has secured incentives in the form of hotel discounts worth $150,000.

Second, all of the sections who have called on the AAA to move the conference have offered financial and logistical assistance. Breaking the contract with the Hilton - - even if they successfully litigate -- does not mean breaking the back of the AAA.

Third, given the choice between, on the one hand, increased dues, decreased publications, and similar measures and, on the other, crossing the picket line and doing it in a non-union corporate-owned Hilton, many of us have voiced preference for the former.

None of the progressive members of the AAA are fooled by the Hilton's crass attempt to subvert the union's efforts and help the AAA save face. As someone said in a recent email "we should all understand that this does not resolve the basic problem of the Hilton Corporation locking out its workers in San Francisco and refusing to negotiate with their union. It only moves AAA to another Hilton site so all of us, Hilton and AAA can continue business as usual. It brings no pressure to bear on Hilton to let its employees return to work and negotiate with their union. It changes cosmetics, not realities." In effect, we are taking a very long walk through the picket lines if we take this option.

I understand that you and the Executive Committee have worked long and hard to come up with a solution. But, with all due respect, you must reconsider this action.

With firm resolve,
Rob O'Brien
PhD Candidate
Temple University

See the original AAA letter here.

Hecky Villanueva on Transfer to Atlanta and the SF Lockout

Posted at Hecky's Request:

A stakeholder's influence on a firm depends on the former's power to influence the latter, the legitimacy of the stakeholder's relationship, andthe urgency of the stakeholder's issues vis-à-vis the firm. Further,stakeholders mobilize to emphasize individual or group identify and/or protectvested interests. Overlapping membership across relevant stakeholder groupsaffect degree of mobilization. The presence, absence, and intersection ofthese stakeholder attributes determine the degree of stakeholder salience.

Could the AAA Board and officers, its members, and those attending the AAA 2004conference have leveraged its stakeholder salience vis-à-vis the SF hotelworkers lock-out? The future will hold us, as individuals and anthropologists,accountable for we how acted when minority, migrant, and women workerspractically asked for the institutional help of the anthropological communityin their struggle to protect their rights to organize, secure living wages, andhealth benefits.

If the hotels could organize the SF Multi-Employer group and lock out theirhotel workers when one hotel went on strike, then why cannot hotel workersalign their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) nationally? If hotelchains can organize themselves internationally, why can?t workers organizethemselves nationally?

Hilton Hotels Corp. a publicly traded corporation (HLT) had revenues for thefirst six months of 2004 rising 9% to $2.06B, with net income rising 78% to$112M. It forecasts continued growth until 2010. Stephen F. Bollenback,Co-Chairman and CEO of Hilton earns $3.1 M a year with stock options of$34Million. Hilton's President and COO, Mathew J. Hart, earns $1.12 Milliona year with millions as well in stock options. They can well afford healthinsurance.

As I previously wrote, pressure should have been laid to bear on Hilton. Afterall, with an estimated 5,000 participants to the AAA conference, the AAA andthe anthropological community, is a formidable sector. It has national andinternational scope. It has credibility and some form of influence.Anthropologists have families, friends, and relatives who they can also request to support just living wages and benefits.

The AAA is an aggrieved party as the lock out compromises the integrity of theconference. Moving to a non-unionized hotel during the thick of a hotel labordispute that is becoming systemic nationwide sends the wrong message thatanthropologists, harbingers of society's norms and actions, are insensitiveto the plight of minority, women, and immigrant workers. A nuanced approachshould have been undertaken before reaching a decision. This is not a?win-win? approach.

As Cristine Holmberg noted, anthropologists could have been 'subversive?without AAA suffering a financial loss. For example, AAA could have clarifiedwith the Hilton what is the minimal usage allowed for it not to sue. Thefacilities could have been then turned over to labor organizers, activists, andanthropologists engaged with the labor sector to discuss the issues. Therented facilities could have been provided to activists and researchers to dotheir thing or even for press conferences, or debates and town hall meetingsbetween pro and anti lockout views. Paid for hotel rooms could have beenprovided to locked out workers, families who may be spending money shuttlingto and fro the ?war zones?. SF will be chilly in November.

The AAA then could have pressured Hilton to agree to the transfer to San Joseusing Hilton facilities. After all, the union agreed to the San Joserelocation proposal.

The AAA Board perceives a tight coupling between AAA and Hilton and otherconference sites. Hence it sees little room for strategizing. This tightcoupling should not have been set in the first place had human and labor rightsbeen in place in selecting conference sites. This tight coupling asrepresented by contracts should be loosened immediately.

Further, the silence of AAA, the Board and its officers, and the anthropologycommunity (as an institution) on this hotel worker lock out is becoming deafening.The decision to move the conference to a non-unionized Hilton hotel in Atlantashows how pervasive capital indeed is and how it can manipulate thetemporal-spatial continuum.

MAKI BAKA! HUWAG MATAKOT! (Join the struggle! Do not be scared!).
Hecky Villanueva
PhD program
Department of Anthropology
University of Arizona

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 22:53:58 -0700
From: "Ronald Hector A. Villanueva"
To: Tom Sheridan

Kudos to the AAA Ex. Board and others for their actions, thoughts, and suggestions. While I sympathize with AAA's looming legal and financial woesshould the conference be cancelled, I think the sober legal assessment ofAAA's lawyers need to be taken in context. We actually have more options than we think.

My comments:
1. Does the AAA-Hilton contract state that AAA is committed to uphold thecontract despite the negative publicity to AAA and the respective participantspersonally from crossing the picket line? In other words, in signing thecontract with Hilton, did it mean that the legitimacy of AAA as a ?moral,ethical organization? should be disregarded? Why should AAA take the flakfor the collapse of Hilton's labor-management relations?

2. The burden of upholding the contract lies with the Hilton and not the AAA. When AAA signed the contract with Hilton, it signed on the premise that thelatter would provide first-class service. It did not include negativepublicity, potential for interorganizational conflict (with labor and supportgroups), safety issues, and emotional distress for AAA and conferenceparticipants.

3. I would like to assume that AAA only does business with legitimatebusinesses. Does AAA have a standard or criteria for businesses it deals with? If there are ethical standards for anthropologists, green standards, etc.,then AAA should have one for business partners as well. Did Hilton violateany of these standards? If so, then the contract should be reviewed with thegoal of reneging.

4. Going back to legitimacy, does the strike now compromise the legitimacy ofHilton? If Hilton's actions on the strike are deemed immoral, unethical,illegal (by whom?), AAA, as a direct impact stakeholder, should immediatelywithdraw its relationship with Hilton.

5. AAA can demand that Hilton provide another suitable location without thestrike, but then this would weaken the moral stand of the AAA vis-à-vis theworkers. At this point, what exactly is the stand of the AAA vis-à-vis thestrike? If AAA is wary of taking a stand, it can express deep concern andanxiety to Hilton on the crisis, in effect, leaning on them to resolve theconflict in a mutually beneficial manner.

6. The point is, AAA which has a huge contract signed with Hilton is in aposition to pressure Hilton to deal fairly with the workers. Will AAA seizethis opportunity? AAA has the power, legitimacy, and urgency to do so(withholding the payments and counter-suing, asking all AAA members to boycottHilton, preparing a critical statement, and the other actions alreadysuggested) to do so. It can demand that Hilton do the right thing NOW.

7. There is no easy way out, with negotiations and conflict resolution. AAAshould look into appraising Hilton and the workers of these discussions. Hilton will be pressured while the workers encouraged. I?m sure otherconference clients of Hilton are doing the same. They are also direct impactstakeholders and are concerned at Hilton's actions.

8. Media will play a key role here. AAA's actions will be scrutinized. Should it concede to Hilton and cross the picket line, it's credibility andlegitimacy will be compromised. Is it worth the $1.3 M? I think AAA shouldlook at counter-legal actions and try to break the contract.

9. Lastly, most of the hotel workers are, aside from being from the lowereconomic class, mostly minorities, women, and immigrants. The Roman CatholicChurch as a preferential option to the poor, what's AAA's preferentialoption???

10. There are now 14 locked out hotels. Another 26 are on the strike watchlist. Is the crisis becoming systemic? posted the SFExaminer's report that the SF Fashion Week conference has been scrapped. Surely, AAA wouldn?t want to be compared to the fashion industry regardingdoing what is right.

Here's the quote: "A dose of high fashion injected the ongoing hotel labor dispute Monday asworkers and owners clashed over the cancellation of The City's first-ever SanFrancisco International Fashion Week. Event promoters pulled the plug on the glitzy three-day event late Friday night,stating that the lockout at 14 major city hotels had "seriously affected" thehigh-fashion affair. Founder and producer Jacinta Law said picket lines would "compromise the integrity of the event" and instead she would focus on a spring season show inMarch. She said the lockout would affect "designer accommodations, eventheadquarters, pre-event publicity, press junket, awards luncheon, andpost-event parties that were planned in these hotels."

The pressure should be laid to bear on Hilton and not the AAA. In the meantime,another venue should be seriously considered. Anthropologists should be able to put up with the hassles. It's the least they could do. Cancellation orpostponement should be the last resort.Professors of anthropology should also have their students study this moralityplay and write about it.

Hecky Villanueva
PhD program
Department of Anthropology
University of Arizona

Board member response to my letter, with my reply

Mr O'Brien,

Thank you for your note. What you neglect is that the Hilton chain is only ONE of ELEVEN chains among the 14 hotels that banded together to resist UNITE. The sad fact is that there is nowhere our very big meeting can be accomodated that isn't one of those chains.

Among the responsibilities we were elected to fulfill, the EB must somehow make certain that our membership is served (especially, in this case, our job-seekers) by the annual meeting and other services AAA provides for its members, which would have been compromised by both the extra outlay (for naught as regards solidarity, since one of the hotels in San Jose is a Hilton) and the exposure to the real threat of a lawsuit (with which the AAA lawyer has personal experience and has thoroughlyresearched).

We are working on ways that job-seekers and colleagues from South countries may be reimbursed, and also on creative ways to help UNITE. We have been working closely with UNITE's leadership, and while I amalso personally disappointed that we couldn't have done more, we sawno other viable alternative.

The EB is at least comforted that UNITE appreciates what we were able to do.

Carole Crumley
(you are welcome to post this note to your listserv)

Dear Dr. Crumley,

I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my email. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of feedback you are having to deal with at this time, in addition to the logistical nightmare of having to move the conference.

Since the points you make are essentially those made to me by Dr. Beeman, I will reply by forwarding the email I sent to him.

Before getting to that, however, I would like to make an important suggestion to the board. It is clear from the current negotiations with the Hilton that we are in the weakest possible position for an organization of our size. There are several simply steps that must be taken to 1) address this situation and 2) place more responsibility in the hands of the AAA staff so that the board can conduct other business.

1) All of our contracts with vendors must include an "opt- out" clause in the event of a strike.
2) We must immediately purchase cancellation insurance. It is unimaginable that we are currently so exposed.
3) A member (or members) of the AAA staff must be tasked with aggressively negotiating with vendors on progressive issues consistent with the statements and governing principles of this organization.

My response to Dr. Beeman, which addresses the points raised in your email, follows.

Best regards,
Rob O'Brien

Dear Dr. Beeman,

I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my email. Im afraid, however, that we disagree as to whether your email addresses my concerns.

As I pointed out in my email to the board, the UNITE HERE folks are well aware that we were negotiating with MEG- affiliated hotels in San Jose. We worked with them, in fact, as they helped with the planning of San Jose as an option. Although these hotels are affiliated with the national chains that have locked out workers in San Francisco, UNITE HERE members are neither striking against the San Jose hotels, nor are they locked out of them. Further, unlike the Hilton in Atlanta, the hotels that the union helped us identify in San Jose are all union shops.

As to whether Local 2 or the national union were "only concerned that we not hold the meeting in San Francisco," this is simply untrue. While they appreciate the fact that the board decided against completely breaking their picket, my discussions with organizers and Local 2 President Mike Casey made it abundantly clear that a move to San Jose would have been much more powerful politically. It would have broken the contract, thereby giving the union much more support than the bait and switch of Atlanta for San Francisco.

Regarding the expense of breaking the contract, it is far outweighed by the ethical statements agreed to by the AAA, statements that are more than mere position papers to show to beaming undergrads for those of us who have fought to support the locked out workers. Further, as I pointed out in my email, many proposals were floated for creating a legal defense fund. To my knowledge, the board never seriously considered any of them.

I appreciate that the board has made an effort to accomodate those who will be unable to afford the change to Atlanta. As for me, however, I will be boycotting the AAA and attending a counter-conference on the West Coast instead. That way I can continue to struggle alongside UNITE HERE and put aside the shame that I felt earlier as a member of the AAA.

Rob O'Brien

Counter-conference to Boycott MEG Hotels and AAA 2004

Calling all boycotting sections: Let's work with the San Jose Convention Bureau to quickly pull together a smaller "counter-conference" on the same dates as the original AAA conference.

If people already had plane reservations, these would remain valid, and the only thing they might have to cancel would be their hotel reservations.

We could even try to organize it to keep paper sessions in the same time slots as originally scheduled, and instead of expensive keynote speakers, we could have periods to go out and picket with or otherwise support the union -- and invite some union reps to give a keynote speech or two down in San Jose!!

This would be an opportunity to continue to do good public anthropology. We would be able to support UNITE HERE Local 2, participate in a (media blitz over a) boycott of the MEG hotels, and boycott the AAA.

This latter point may be sticky for many of you.

Here are my thoughts: The labor dispute is not the only issue that AAA members need to discuss. The dispute – and the way that it has been discussed by members and addressed by the AAA Executive Committee -- also raise serious questions for AAA members about the ethics and democratic governance of the Association.

First, a particularly sticky point is the question of whose opinions the AAA leadership is considering in making decisions about the dispute. The initial announcement to members went only to those members registered for the conference. Several section board members have emailed to say that the Executive Committee is only considering the votes of registered conference participants in making their decision.

Yet, the issues involved affect all members of the AAA, not just those who are able and willing to go to San Francisco (Just to get my positionality straight, I have a registration and plane ticket for San Francisco). The AAA Code of Ethics, the Statement on Human Rights, the by-laws of many of the sections, and the entire area of "public" anthropology make the case for supporting the rights of workers to organize, supporting cooperation between established workers and immigrant workers, and analyzing and addressing the issues of access to healthcare, employment, etc.

As members of this professional organization, we have duties as well as rights. We should not, on the one hand, take advantage of what the organization has to offer to further our careers and, on the other, ignore the ethical positions the organization has taken over years of deliberation and struggle. As anthropologists we have a duty to address people's real problems.

Second, the situation calls into serious question the leadership of the AAA. The fact is that AAA leadership knew about the labor problems at the Hilton seven weeks ago and did nothing to alert the membership until the 11th hour. The initial response that most members saw came from AAA President Elizabeth Brumfeil, who expressed the hope that the situation would resolve itself before several thousand anthropologists showed up in San Francisco.

AAA members have been discussing the ethics of such a position without questioning the serious lack of judgment exhibited by the Association’s leadership. Independent of the AAA leadership, one member was able to work with the UNITE/HERE leadership and with the visitors bureau in San Jose to come up with a feasible alternative plan in just two days. This plan could have been set into motion weeks ago had the AAA executive committee or program committee shown similar commitment and resolve. Sections should discuss motions to call for the resignation of the executive board.

Lastly, the labor dispute points to the myopia that often affects anthropologists and activists both. We become so bogged down in our own work and struggles, we do not see our fellow workers and activists as they toil next to us. As one anthropologist posting to urbananth-l put it, too many of us were saying “‘Finally, I can express my convictions!’…But we needn't wait for a union to strike in S[an] F[rancisco] in order to find under-paid and poorly treated workers; they're all over the place.” In fact, UNITE HERE locals here in Philadelphia are negotiating with the same hotel chains, and workers are striking in Atlantic City.

This dispute presents many teachable moments. AAA members need to use this moment to discuss both the responsibilities and the benefits of their membership (and of “public” anthropology). In Philadelphia, several of us will be sending a delegation to Atlantic City to support those workers. We’ll be discussing this struggle in our classrooms, using it as an excellent opportunity for our students to gain an understanding of what’s at stake for us all in protecting workers' rights. If a counter-conference happens in an alternative location, presenters should consider giving papers on issues related to the hotel workers struggle.

In struggle,


Friday, October 22, 2004

AAA Memorandum -- October 19

October 19, 2004 MEMORANDUM To: 2004 Annual Meeting Registrants From: Liz Brumfiel, President Bill Davis, Executive Director Subject: San Francisco Hilton Hotel Labor Dispute This is to make you aware of a labor dispute involving the San Francisco Hilton Hotel and its organized employees, and to seek your advice on behalf of the AAA Executive Board relative to our scheduled 2004 Annual Meeting. The AAA Executive Board is conducting an on-line survey to obtain your opinion relative to the decision before it. To participate, please read the following memo carefully prior to completing the survey. Because of the urgency of the issue, please send your reply by Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 8:00 am Eastern Daylight Time. We recognize this is an extremely complex issue, and appreciate your reading the memo carefully prior to replying. SF Hilton Hotel Labor Dispute The San Francisco Hilton Hotel and thirteen other hotels in San Francisco are currently in a labor contract standoff with Local 2 of UNITE/HERE, the union representing cooks, dishwashers, bellmen, servers, room cleaners and switchboard operators. Union members struck the hotels several weeks ago and subsequently have been locked out. There are currently picket lines at the entrances to the Hilton, and there is every likelihood that contract negotiations between the union and the multi-employer group representing the 14 hotels will not be settled by the time of AAA's Annual Meeting. Understanding the discomfort that many members may have crossing picket lines, AAA's Officers and staff have been working steadily over the past two weeks to determine what possibilities might exist to move the meeting out of the Hilton, and the likely consequences of doing so. On Monday, October 18, AAA's Executive Board held a teleconference meeting, during which Board members decided to solicit the views of potential meeting attendees concerning our options. AAA Contract with SF Hilton Hotel The SF Hilton is the only hotel property in San Francisco able to accommodate under a single roof, our meeting both in sleeping rooms and in function space. AAA has had a signed a contract for the 2004 Annual Meeting with the San Francisco Hilton since October 29, 1996. The contract provides that, absent a failure on the part of Hilton to provide the services specified, AAA does not have the right to cancel its meeting in the Hilton without facing exposure to potential damages in excess of $1.2 million plus legal fees. Our contract with the SF Hilton provides that, to the extent that the hotel is unable to operate, meet its obligations and perform the services it is contracted to perform, we have cause to sever our contract without suffering a financial penalty. The hotel's management indicates that they have brought employees in from other properties and the hotel is operating as normal. Union representatives say that the hotel is not. Since the job action began, conferences and events have continued to be held in the Hilton. To determine the situation, we contacted representatives of other organizations that have conducted meetings in the Hilton since the beginning of the labor dispute to get their assessment of the Hilton's performance. Based on their reports, it appears that the Hilton has provided adequate services to those organizations. Thus, AAA cannot cancel its meeting in the Hilton without facing potential damages in excess of $1.2 million plus legal fees. Alternative Locations for the 2004 Annual Meeting Despite these contract provisions, we have been exploring other potential options for relocating the 2004 Annual Meeting to another property (outside San Francisco) or rescheduling it to another time period. Unfortunately, the requirements for AAA's Annual Meeting (sleeping rooms, meeting rooms, exhibit, job placement and registration service space, general session space) make it an unusually difficult meeting to site. In order to secure adequate space sufficient to accommodate our meeting, we schedule and contract for that space between 5 and 8 years in advance of the meeting. With only a month before the meeting is scheduled to begin, finding any optional space to move the meeting has been even more difficult. Several potential alternatives have been explored. These included moving our function space from the Hilton to other locations in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Moscone Convention Center is tied up with an auto show and can't accommodate us. No other hotel property can be found which would accommodate all our meeting room needs. We explored other city venues for the 2004 Annual Meeting, including Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Jose. While we felt we should consider all possibilities, moving the Annual Meeting to another city or to totally different dates appears to be a completely impractical alternative at this late date because many meeting registrants have already bought airline tickets, would incur a financial loss in rebooking their tickets and likely would nota be able to change their schedule of obligations on such short notice. The only possible alternative location within driving distance of the San Francisco airport for the meeting is San Jose, CA. For those of you who don't know the geography, San Jose is about 45 miles south of the San Francisco airport. A combination of eight hotels within 3 miles of the San Jose Convention Center could accommodate as many as 1,770 sleeping rooms each night of our meeting. (We currently have a hold on 1,850 hotel rooms in San Francisco.) A combination of the San Jose Convention Center, Civic Auditorium and Parkside Hall (both adjacent to the Convention Center) and all available meeting rooms at the Hilton Hotel and Crown Plaza hotel (a block from the Convention Center) could probably accommodate our need for function space for the scholarly program, general sessions, exhibit space, placement service and business meetings. However, renting this space would cost AAA approximately $100,000. A final option would be to cancel the 2004 Annual Meeting completely. Major Considerations: If picket lines are still up at the San Francisco Hilton during our meeting, there are really no good options for AAA. It appears likely that we will have reduced attendance whether we conduct it in the SF Hilton or move it to San Jose. If we have it at the Hilton, and there are picket lines around the hotel, some potential attendees (numbers uncertain) may cancel their attendance. If we move the meeting to San Jose at this late date, others may cancel. At least five major considerations are likely to be involved in an Executive Board decision on whether to hold the meeting at the Hilton as scheduled, cancel the meeting or attempt to change its location to San Jose. 1. Logistical Considerations After a year of planning, changing our meeting location with only four weeks before the meeting starts will be a mammoth logistical undertaking. There will be 450 sessions, 250 special events plus the exhibits program and placement service to relocate, and once relocated, they will end up in at least 5 different locations. Sleeping rooms for over 4,500 people will have to be secured, and it is likely that they would be in a minimum of 8 different hotels in San Jose. Since two of those hotels are three miles from the San Jose Convention Center, shuttle bus transportation would have to be secured. Since the meeting program is already at the printer, an addendum with newly assigned rooms will have to be prepared. It is likely that every registered attendee (4,579 people have registered thus far) will have to be contacted directly and walked through the process of alternative arrangements. On site in San Jose, it is likely there will be glitches and lots of confusion; attendees will undoubtedly find it difficult to navigate the meeting; some events will probably not occur; some individuals will not be able to get to sessions they expected to attend; and things will certainly not go as smoothly as attendees have come to expect from AAA. 2. Financial Risk Another major consideration in moving our 2004 Annual Meeting is of course the financial cost to AAA. According to a report from ConferenceDirect, the firm that AAA contracts with to advise on site location and hotel contract negotiation, the San Francisco Hilton will claim damages of $1,125,975 if we cancel the contract with them. While that amount may be mitigated by certain terms of the contract and Hilton's ability to resell some of its rooms, the potential damages owed to Hilton would be very substantial. Breaking other contracts with overflow hotels in San Francisco, according to ConferenceDirect's calculations is likely to cost AAA an additional $66,379. Renting function room space in San Jose is estimated at $100,000. Assuming the cost of Shuttle Bus service in San Jose will be borne by the San Jose hotels and Convention and Visitors Bureau, and that our costs can be held at about current budget levels, the potential financial loss to AAA as a consequence of a move to San Jose is calculated by ConferenceDirect is approximately $1.3 million not including legal fees. 3. Ethical and Economic Implications Were we to move the meeting out of a hotel that is being struck by its employees, many of our members would consider AAA to be on the right side of an issue that is probably quite dear to their hearts. Over the course of the past two weeks, we've engaged in several discussions with representatives of UNITE/HERE in an attempt to identify ways that our members and/or the Association could support the strike effort. The union's position is that the only thing they want us to do is to cancel our meeting in the SF Hilton. The media and public relations benefit to the union in our canceling the meeting is perceived as being very significant. Cancellation of our meeting at the Hilton would cause only limited economic loss to the hotel for two reasons. First, under the terms of our contract, AAA does not pay a fee for the use of function rooms. The meeting space in the hotel is provided to AAA free of charge in order to get our sleeping room and food and beverage business. Thus moving our meeting does not deny the hotel any income for the rental of function room space. Second, if we cancel our meeting at the SF Hilton, under the terms of our contract, the Hotel will make a claim against AAA for recovery of anticipated income from sleeping room and food and beverage business which is lost as a consequence of our canceling the meeting. To the extent that the Hilton succeeds in recovering from AAA any or all of the $1,125,975 in estimated losses it incurs as a result of the contract cancellation, the hotel will not suffer that loss. The loss would accrue to the AAA which would be forced to compensate the Hilton for its lost income. 4. An Additional Consideration: The "Attrition" Clause An additional, very important point should be made. There is no "attrition" clause in our contract-which means that, as long as AAA does not cancel its contract, it would not be liable if the Hilton didn't fill the rooms that we have blocked off and if the Hilton did not receive its anticipated food, beverage and other income. Under the terms of our contract with the SF Hilton, individual members could exercise their own personal choices on whether to maintain or cancel their sleeping room reservations at the Hilton and to use or refrain from using the hotel's restaurant and cocktail lounge facilities without exposing the Association to financial damages or loss, so long as AAA does NOT cancel the location of its meeting. 5. Demonstrating Support for Striking Hotel Employees We have attempted to identify ways in which, were we to keep our meeting in the San Francisco Hilton, our members and/or the Association could provide help in support of the strike effort. The union's position is that the only thing they want to see us do is to cancel our meeting in the SF Hilton. They have been unwilling to discuss any other possible actions that AAA or our members might take to be of assistance or show support to the striking/locked out employee's efforts. Clearly, the media and public relations benefit to the union in our canceling the meeting is perceived as being so great that it is politically unwise for them to discuss other possible assistance the AAA might provide. A number of suggestions have been put forth by AAA's Executive Board and members, however, of ways that individual members and the Association as a whole might demonstrate support for striking hotel employees short of canceling or moving our meeting from the SF Hilton Hotel. These include: 1. Sending a letter to the hotel requesting they settle the strike before we arrive and letting the hotel know that we support striking/locked out employees. 2. Sending a letter to the president of UNITE/HERE to let him know that we have a contract with the Hilton and have arranged a schedule with several thousands of people that we cannot now change, but which expresses support for the workers on strike and requests permission for AAA members and visitors to cross the picket line. 3. Inviting the union to address our annual business meeting to explain their situation. 4. Providing a table for the union in our conference registration area for the distribution of information on their situation. 5. Inviting the union to our receptions to explain the situation and to collect funds to support the workers. 6. Conducting the organized session on the anthropology of unions (organized by Paul Durrenberger) to meet on the sidewalk across the street from the hotel or on the picket line rather than cross it and offer the union an opportunity for some supportive press coverage. 7. Securing a parade permit from the City of San Francisco and organizing a parade from the hotel to Union Square and a demonstration in Union Square. 8. Conducting a teach-in at the hotel or in an adjacent location which members of AAA would be asked to participate in and /or attend. 9. Organizing and conducting an effort to collect financial contributions from AAA members to support union members. Express Your Opinion The AAA Executive Board is conducting an on-line survey to obtain your opinion relative to the decision before them. To participate in this survey, please click on the following link (or copy and paste the URL into your browser window). Thank you very much for participating in this survey.