Sunday, October 24, 2004

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


Blogger Javier Ruedas said...

I agree with much of what you are saying, particularly the astonishing hubris of the decisionmaking process. However, a particular comment. Just as you say that balkanizing the AAA will only reduce our bargaining power, and hence play into the hotel chains' hands, requiring the AAA to refuse from ever doing business with the Hilton will also weaken our position. Issuing a series of demands to the Hilton, which, if met, will result in a resumption of our business relationship, is a better option.

10:30 PM  

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