Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hotel workers back on the job, for now

Going to Atlanta? Boycott the Hilton and Stay in a Union-Friendly Hotel

If you go to the 2004 AAA you can still support labor. The Atlanta Hilton is a non-union hotel. It's also corporate-run, which means they see all of the profit from it, unlike the franchise in San Francisco where they receive only a small

Don't stay in the Atlanta Hilton. Don't buy a newspaper, a donut, a cup of coffee, or a postcard at the Hilton.

According to UNITE HERE organizer Neal Kwatra, the Hyatt Regency is currently our only union-hotel option in Atlanta.

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

AAAUnite is conducting a poll of AAA members going to Atlanta. Take the poll in the sidebar and let other members know where you'll be staying.

For future reference, UNITE HERE has an online guide
to hotels to which they have given approval.

UNITE HERE on AAA Communication

To AAA Section Leaders and Board Members,

I have thought for some time about the utility of responding to Bill Davis and Kim Baker's version of the history of communication efforts between our union, UNITE HERE and the AAA staff. After consultation with various interested parties in the AAA, I decided it was important to inject some facts, that are documented, regarding our outreach efforts.

I am attaching a timeline of our outreach efforts [appended below as inline text] to the AAA staff that date back to August 27. In this timeline I include internal e-mails and notes from the staffer from our organization who lead the outreach efforts to the AAA from August 27 forward.

As you will see in the notes and e-mails contained herein, after being referred to Lucille Horn by Liz Brumfiel, our staffer Amy Willis, left countless messages for Ms. Horn from August 31 to September 21. Finally, after not having any of her calls or e-mails returned by Ms. Horn, Amy reached out to Liz Brumfiel, via e-mail on September 21, and asks her to intervene and play a constructive role in helping facilitate contact with Ms. Horn about our concerns and issues.

Despite Baker and Davis' assertion, Ms. Horn never returned one message from Amy Willis, which is what necessitated the further communications and request for Liz Brumfiel to intervene (see internal e-mail dated September 7 and 21 in attached document). We also have preserved Amy Willis' work voicemail with all messgaes saved from August 1- present and there is not one message from Ms. Horn or any other AAA staffer on her voicemail or her cell phone.

What is important to understand about our outreach efforts from August 27 through September is that we wanted to start a line of communication with the AAA. We knew there was a high likelihood of a strike or lockout, given the contract expiration in San Francisco, and as a result we wanted to talk to the AAA staff and leadership about ways they could help to prevent such an outcome by communicating with the hotel.

Additionally, we wanted to talk to the AAA staff about alternative options for hotels and meeting places so AAA members would not have to cross any picket lines, in the event of a strike or lockout. We were having the same conversations with many other big groups and had successfully aided some of them in finding alternative accommodations.

We were somewhat puzzled by the uncooperative nature of the AAA staff in discussing these issues with us, especially since we had worked so well with other academic groups- like the Sociologists, the Geographers, the American Studies Association and many other academic organizations.

On September 29, our union in San Francisco called a two-week strike and only then did the AAA staff begin to talk to us.

In terms of Baker and Davis' recollection of their communication with Kelly Dugan, that is also riddled with inaccuracies. First of all, despite what Davis and Baker allege, she is not a member of our Union's national Strategic Affairs Department. She is the community coordinator of our Local union in San Francisco. Without spending too much time refuting Baker and Davis's recollections of those conversations, it is inconceivable that Kelly would not be helpful about information for alternative accommodations and meeting options, since that is a big part of her job in San Francisco. I have spoken to her about the version of events recounted by Davis and Baker and she strongly disputes their version of events.

In terms of UNITE HERE staffer Rose Murphy's conversations with Ms. Horn, it is true they happened on those days, however, despite our offers, at no time was Ms. Horn interested in our offer to help with alternative accommodations or other logistical assistance. I personally left two messages for Ms. Horn On Wednesday October 20, offering UNITE HERE's assistance and I never heard back from her.

Obviously, after we were on strike and then locked-out, the communication between the AAA staff and my staff increased, however, these were conversations that never had a cooperative tone of two interested parties seeking a solution to a problem. Time and again my staff and I felt as though the AAA staff viewed us in an adversarial way, that it was somehow our fault that this labor dispute was disrupting their meeting. While I completely understand that sentiment given how hard I am sure they worked on arranging the meeting, it was not a helpful dynamic given our collective need to find a soultion to a bad problem.

It was not until October 21, when I received a phone call from Alan Goodman, did our Union, UNITE HERE, feel we had a partner from the AAA who was genuinely interested in problem solving. It is unfortunate that it took that long to get us working together, however, it was not because of a lack of sincere effort on the part of UNITE HERE to reach out to the AAA and its staff to discuss these issue dating back to August 27.

I hope this sheds some more light on the history of our outreach efforts to the AAA and we can avoid these problems as we continue to work together in the future.

If anyone has any questions or is interested in copies of the internal e-mails and notes from our staff on the history of our outreach efforts to the AAA, I am happy to provide them.

Thank you for your time- please see attached timeline document which contains internal UNITE HERE notes and e-mails.

Neal Kwatra

Contents of Kwatra's attachment:

AAA and UNITE HERE – summary of communications

August 27th

- Phone call from Amy Willis to Kim Baker, looking for AAA’s support in our members’ campaign for a fair contract. Kim referred Amy to Liz Brumfiel, President of AAA. She noted that, although Lucille Horn was the meeting planner, Amy should talk to Ms. Brumfiel first.

- Voice mail message from Amy Willis to Liz Brumfiel, asking for AAA’s support and a call back.

- Email from Amy Willis to Liz Brumfiel where Amy explained the importance of academic associations to the hotel companies, what we wanted the associations to do to support the hotel workers campaigns in DC, LA and SF and also what the status of the workers’ contracts was in San Francisco.

August 29th:

- Liz Brumfiel e-mails Amy back and arranges a phone call for the week of the 30th.

August 30th:

- In Amy’s first weekly update on her progress with academic organizations, she has the following to report on her dealings with the AAA thus far. From an internal memo dated 8/30/04:

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Spoke with Kim Baker, who referred me to Liz Brumfiel (Northwester University), President of AAA. Brumfiel e-mailed me and asked me to call her this week, which I will do. Depending on what she says, I may then be able to talk to Lucille Horn, the AAA’s in-house meeting planner.

Follow up: Call Brumfiel and Horn

August 31st:

- Amy speaks to Liz Brumfiel for the first time. Their conversation has to do with actions the AAA can take in support of the workers, including writing to Hilton, passing a resolution, and integrating FM language into their hotel contracts. Brumfiel also indicates in that conversation that Lucille Horn is the person to contact about AAA’s meeting contracts, relationships with different hotel companies, hotel contacts, etc.

- Having talked first to Brumfiel, as Baker had advised, Amy calls Lucille Horn for the first time. Amy gets her voicemail and leaves a message. Amy mentions that she’s talked to both Baker and Brumfiel and that they had suggested a phone call to discuss the situation with the hotel workers in SF, LA, and DC and what the AAA could do to help their fight. Ms. Horn does not return Amy’s call.

September 3rd:

- In Amy’s second weekly update on her progress with academic organizations, she has the following to report on her dealings with the AAA thus far. From an internal memo dated 9/3/04:

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Contact: Liz Brumfiel, Northwestern University, AAA President, 847-491-4564

Upcoming Meetings: 2004 (November 17 – 21) - Hilton and Towers, San Francisco; 2005 - Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, DC; 2006 – Hilton, Atlanta

Size of Meeting: 6,000 attendees

Meeting Planner: In-house, Lucille Horn (I have not been able to speak with her yet, despite leaving numerous messages)

September 7th

- Amy calls Lucille Horn again, but again gets her voicemail. Amy waits until the 7th day because she’s been told that Ms. Horn only works one day per week and 9/7/04 was the next day that she was supposed to be in the office. Again, Ms. Horn does not return Amy’s call.

- Amy also e-mails Liz Brumfiel regarding a change in UNITE HERE’s timeframe in terms of getting the associations to act, and about Lucile Horn. From Amy’s 9/7 email to Ms. Brumfiel:

From: ar_willis@comcast.net
To: ebrumfiel@northwestern.edu
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 20:12:41 +0000
Hello, Prof. Brumfiel,
I wanted to follow up with you on UNITE HERE's efforts with academic associations. Our timeline has been condensed somewhat and we are now pushing to get letters out to some of the hotels as early as next week, around the time that the contract expires in DC.
I have not been able to speak with Lucille Horn, but am continuing to try to get in touch with her to determine who she has dealt with directly in organizing AAA's meetings.

September 8th:

- Amy leaves a message for Kim Baker, asking for her help in getting a hold of Ms. Horn.

September 9th

- Amy calls Kim Baker and speaks to her. Ms. Baker again tells Amy that she has to speak to Ms. Horn for information about AAA’s meeting planning and anything to do with the upcoming meeting in San Francisco.

September 10th:

- Amy leaves another message for Ms. Horn on her voicemail. Amy also calls Ms. Brumfiel to seek her assistance, but does not reach her.

- In Amy’s third weekly update on her progress with academic organizations, she has the following to report on her dealings with the AAA thus far. From an internal memo dated 9/10/04:

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Contact: Liz Brumfiel, Northwestern University, AAA President, 847-491-4564

Upcoming Meetings: 2004 (November 17 – 21) - Hilton and Towers, San Francisco; 2005 - Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, DC; 2006 – Hilton, Atlanta

Size of Meeting: 6,000 attendees

Meeting Planner: In-house, Lucille Horn (I have not been able to speak with her yet)

Update: I’ve still not been able to speak to Lucille Horn. I’ve left numerous messages with her and with another woman at their office, but to no avail. I tried to get Liz Brumfiel today, but did not reach her. I will call again on Monday and ask if she can put pressure on Horn to get me the info.

September 11th – 14th:

- Amy leaves two more voice mail messages for Ms. Horn.

September 15th:

- Still not having heard from Ms. Horn, Amy calls Liz Brumfiel to ask for her assistance in reaching Ms. Horn. Ms. Brumfiel says she is reluctant to intervene with Horn on Amy’s behalf, stating that she feels Horn’s failure to return Amy’s calls is due to her being in the office on a limited basis. Ms. Brumfiel suggests that Amy e-mail Horn, which she does that day. From Amy’s 9/15 email to Lucile Horn:

From: ar_willis@comcast.net
To: lhorn@aaanet.org
Subject: Hotel Information for UNITE HERE
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004 20:40:20 +0000
Hello, Lucille,
I'm just following up on some phone messages I left over the past couple of weeks. I work for UNITE HERE, the hotel workers' union.
I have spoken with Liz Brumfiel about the AAA's writing a letter of support for the hotel workers because they are working without a contract. We want to be sure that the letter goes to the correct contact -- the one with whom you and the AAA have a relationship -- in order that it be as effective as possible.
Would you be so kind as to give me the names, titles and contact information of the hotel sales people you've worked with to arrange the AAA's upcoming meetings at the SF Hilton and the Marriott Wardman Park in DC and also at the Atlanta Hilton.
Also, if you work closely with a national sales person at either the Hilton or the Marriott companies in planning these meetings it would be helpful to have that contact information.
Thank you very much for your assistance with this effort.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Amy Willis

Ms. Brumfiel also suggests that Amy should get back to her if Ms. Horn continues to be unresponsive.

September 17th:

- In Amy’s fourth weekly update on her progress with academic organizations, she has the following to report on her dealings with the AAA thus far. From an internal memo dated 9/17/04:

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Contact: Liz Brumfiel, Northwestern University, AAA President, 847-491-4564

Upcoming Meetings: 2004 (November 17 – 21) - Hilton and Towers, San Francisco; 2005 - Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, DC; 2006 – Hilton, Atlanta

Size of Meeting: 6,000 attendees

Meeting Planner: In-house, Lucille Horn (I have not been able to speak with her yet)

Update: I’ve been trying for weeks – by phone and e-mail – to get Lucille Horn, the AAA’s conference planner to get back to me. I’ve left messages with her and with another woman at their office, but to no avail. I talked to the AAA’s president, Liz Brumfiel, on the 15th. She was hesitant to intervene and wanted me to give Lucille one more try, which I did. Since I have still not heard from her, I will call Brumfiel and Horn on Monday and really try to push whomever I reach.

September 21st:

- Ms. Horn has still not responded to emails or phone calls as of this date. Amy E-mails Ms. Brumfiel asking for her help getting information from Horn. From Amy’s 9/21 email to Liz Brumfiel

From: ar_willis@comcast.net
To: ebrumfiel@northwestern.edu
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 21:07:18 +0000
Hello, Professor Brumfiel,
I just wanted to check in with you becaue I still have not been able to speak with Lucille Horn about the meeting planning contacts she has with AAA's conference hotels.
I've left her about a half dozen messages and sent an e-mail, but have not had a response. I realize she is only in the office on a limited basis and must be very busy, but I'm feeling a bit pressed to get this information.
As you may know, LA, SF and DC all voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. It is somewhat urgent now that we get letters to the hotels letting them know that the labor dispute is of serious concern to academic associations, as well as others.
Would it be possible for you to give Lucille a call and ask her to get in touch with me to discuss the contact information. I don't think it will require much of her time.
I greatly appreciate your assistance with this.
Also, can you tell me what the possibility would be of getting something from the AAA out to the Hilton in the near future? With your meeting coming up in SF, it would be very powerful.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Amy Willis

AAA on UNITE HERE Communication

Memo to Sections on AAA/UNITE HERE Communication

I know that there is wide interest among Section leaders in what AAA leadership and staff did to communicate with the leadership of UNITE HERE. Following is a review of the communications that took place.

On, or about, September 1, AAA President Liz Brumfiel received a call from a woman identifying herself as a representative of UNITE HERE. The representative asked for information on the Association's policy relative to meeting in unionized hotels. Dr. Brumfiel reported that AAA had a preference for meeting in unionized hotels, and referred the representative to Lucille Horn, AAA's Director of Meetings for further information. Brumfiel reports that it is possible that she and the rep discussed (in general terms) the union's assistance in relocating the meeting. However, Brumfiel does not remember this as being the primary objective of the call, and these topics were not discussed in the union's subsequent contacts with Lucille Horn.

On September 2 and again on September 6, Ms. Horn received telephone messages from Amy Willis of the UNITE HERE staff asking for the dates and locations of all of AAA's future Annual Meetings as well as copies of AAA's contracts with each hotel. Ms. Horn returned each call and left messages but heard nothing more from anyone at
UNITE HERE until October 12.

The San Francisco Hilton Hotel employees went on strike on Wednesday, September 29.

On Wednesday, October 6, President Brumfiel had the first conversation with UNITE HERE staff related to an alternative location for the 2004 Annual Meeting. That day, she received a call from a UNITE HERE staff member Kelly Dugan urging AAA to cancel its meeting at the SF Hilton Hotel and offering to help locate and arrange for alternative space. Dr. Brumfiel asked Ms. Dugan to communicate with AAA Executive Director Bill Davis about the details of such assistance and reported the conversation to Mr. Davis that evening.

Davis attempted to reach Mr. Dugan the next day, but did not reach her until October 8. On October 8, he had a lengthy conversation with Ms. Dugan. During that conversation, he indicated quite clearly that many members of AAA would be loath to cross a picket line at the SF Hilton and asked Ms. Dugan for assistance in making
arrangements to move the AAA 2004 Annual Meeting to alternative properties in San Francisco that were not being struck or locked out. Her response was (1) to refer him to the UNITE HERE website to get a list of SF hotels that were not part of the 14-hotel group, and (2) to FAX him a chart outlining the meeting room capacities for
the hotels that were on the UNITE HERE website.

Davis described at length the many requirements for AAA's meeting, indicated clearly that AAA would need UNITE HERE's help in locating specific facilities that could accommodate various elements of the meeting (sleeping rooms for 4,000 attendees, 450 session meeting rooms and 250 special events meeting rooms of various sizes on specific days and time blocks, space for our job placement center, a location for our exhibits program, etc.) Her response was to say that items (1) and (2) above were all the assistance that UNITE HERE could provide.

During that same telephone conversation, Davis also conveyed to Ms. Dugan that the AAA and its members were very much in sympathy with the striking/locked out workers and wanted very much to be helpful both to hotel employees and to the Union. He asked Ms. Dugan for her assistance, advice and counsel in helping to identify specific actions that the American Anthropological Association and its individual members might take to support the striking/locked out workers and union's efforts. Her response was to say that the only thing she was authorized to do was urge AAA to move its meeting out of the SF Hilton Hotel and its members not to cross the picket
lines. She indicated that she could not discuss other actions that might be helpful.

He then identified to Ms. Dugan several specific actions that AAA and members of the Association had suggested and asked whether these actions would be helpful in demonstrating and/or providing support for the striking/locked out workers. She replied that she had been told that she could not discuss anything other than why AAA should move its meeting, and why AAA's members should not cross the picket

Finally, Davis asked Ms. Dugan if he might talk to others on the UNITE/HERE staff who would be able to discuss any or all of these matters at greater length, and if so who those individuals might be. Her reply was that she was the person in UNITE HERE's Strategic Affairs Department designated to coordinate with AAA and there
wasn't anyone else with whom he could speak.

On October 12, 15, 19 and 21 Lucille Horn, AAA's Director of Meetings spoke with Rose Murphy of the UNITE HERE staff. On each of these occasions, Ms. Murphy reported the major issues involved in the strike/lockout and offered to help AAA find alternative meeting space for the 2004 Annual Meeting. On each occasion, Ms. Horn asked for such help and Mr. Murphy responded that the appropriate UNITE HERE representative would call Ms. Horn with such assistance. No return call was ever received and no assistance was ever provided.

Given the need to identify alternative arrangements for the 2004 Annual Meeting, AAA secured the services of ConferenceDirect, a consulting firm specializing in annual meeting site selection and contract negotiations with conference hotels and convention centers. Research on such alternatives was conducted by ConferenceDirect and the results of that research became the basis for the AAA Executive Board's decisions regarding eventual relocation of the 2004 Annual Meeting to Atlanta.



Kimberley Baker
Section Liaison & Executive Secretary
American Anthropological Association
(703) 528-1902 ext 3027

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hotel Lockout Ends, Negotiations Resume

Saturday morning, in negotiations at Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group agreed to end the lockout. The move followed offers by three healthcare providers to provide worker healthcare coverage free of charge through December and the announcement that workers would receive unemployment compensation.

Faced with the prospect that they would be unable to starve the workers out, the MEG owners have temporarily backed off from their union-busting efforts. UNITE HERE! Local 2 members will return to their jobs next week. A 60-day cooling-off period --during which the Union agrees not to strike and the hotels agree not to lock out -- will allow negotiations to continue in an attempt to settle the outstanding issues in the contract: medical benefits, pension contributions, retiree benefits, right to organize, wages, and contract term.

To follow events as they unfold, go to www.unitehere2.org.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

UNITE HERE Solidarity Rally -- Sat. 11/20

UNITE HERE Solidarity Rally

Join members of UNITE HERE, the San Francisco Central Labor
Council, the dockworkers union, Rigoberta Menchu, AAAUnite, and fellow
activists and anthropologists in a rally in support of the
locked out workers.

Saturday, November 20th
Gather in front of the Hilton at 10:30 AM. We will march to
the rally as a group at 10:45 AM. The rally is scheduled to
begin at 11:00 AM.

4,000 UNITE HERE workers have been locked out of their jobs
since October 13th. In addition to lost wages, they're now
facing the loss of healthcare coverage.

The union has asked a joint hotel-union trust fund to
withdraw money to provide coverage for workers in December
and January. Four management trustees voted no on Monday,
sending the matter to arbitration.

Management's vote to end health care benefits "is
unconscionable, indefensible, and it will not stand,'' said
Mike Casey, president of Local 2, the union that represents
the locked-out workers.

Join us in telling the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group of
hotels that their every action to date has
been "unconscionable, indefensible," and WE will no longer
stand for the lock out.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Support the Workers!

As the 4,000 locked out workers in California go on unemployment pay, their worker's strike funds are running out. Please donate to help the workers through the holiday season. Many of us considered donating to defray the costs of cancelling the Hilton contract. That would have amounted to $150 per member. Please think of this when you consider what to donate.

You can donate online directly to the union's solidarity fund.

Or you can send a check to:

Local 2 Solidarity Fund
209 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Attn.: Tho Do, Secretary/Treasurer

Or, if you prefer, to the Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) "worker hardship fund."

CLUE is also looking for a few thousand turkeys to help the workers through the holiday season.

AAAUnite's sister organization, picketaaa.org, is keeping a running tally of AAA member donations. If you feel comfortable, please email them with the amount of your contribution: picket73@picketaaa.org.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bay Area Events Wiki

I've set up a "wiki" page (a page that anyone can edit) where people can post their own information about planned events. You can visit the page here. If you've ever used wikipedia, this is the same. Hopefully this will facilitate gathering and collecting information. However, I know that some people are not comfortable with new software, so if some people would like to take on the task of collecting information and posting it to the wiki, please e-mail me.

Refunds of Annual Meeting Registration Fees

The AAA has posted a form for requesting refunds of registration fees here.

According to the AAA site, "On November 4, 2004, the AAA Executive Board approved a motion to grant registration fee relief to 2004 Annual Meeting registrants who registered when the Meeting was scheduled to occur in San Francisco, and because of the change in dates and venue, are now unable to attend the Annual Meeting scheduled for Atlanta."

Once you have completed your refund request, please support the UNITE HERE Local 2 Solidarity Fund.

Relocated MESA Sessions

Waleed Hazbun, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins has requested that we post the following rescheduled Middle East Studies Association (MESA) panels on the blog. As many of you know, MESA also planned its annual meeting in SF at about the same time as the AAA. The MESA board decided that they could not get put of their contract with Hyatt which has also locked out its workers.

November 20-23, San Francisco

The following panels have been relocated from the Hyatt due to the lockout:

Roundtable on Culture, Violence, and Media

Saturday, November 20

Location: Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market Street
(Located between 1st & 2nd Street on Market. Just off the Montgomery Street BART stop)

Chair: Waleed Hazbun, Johns Hopkins University

Rebecca Luna Stein, Duke University
Invasion, Occupation, and Other Tourist Practices (1)

Michelle Woodward, Independent/MERIP
Trends in Photographic Style and the Depiction of Israeli-Palestinian
Conflicts, 1948-2004

Waleed Hazbun, Johns Hopkins University
Tourism, Terrorism, and Security: Remapping the American geopolitical

Discussant: Ted Swedenburg, University of Arkansas

Whose Heritage? Whose Environment?

Tuesday, November 23

Location: Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market Street
(Located between 1st & 2nd Street on Market. Just off the Montgomery Street BART stop)

Chair: Waleed Hazbun, Johns Hopkins University

Talinn Grigor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
'Orient Oder Rom' Debate: The 1901-(re)Invention of 'Iran's Cultural 'Heritage'

Laura Strachan, McMaster University
The Success and Sustainability of the Wadi Rum Protected Area: Multiplicity in Opinion, Experience and Positioning

Heather M. Alden, University of Texas at Austin
National Parks in Egypt's South Sinai Peninsula

Jeannie L. Sowers, University of Iowa
Environmental Controversy and Authoritarian Rule: The Politics of Egypt's Toshka Project

Howyda Al-Harithy, American University of Beirut
World Heritage: A Redefinition

Monday, November 08, 2004

Philippe Bourgois calls for boycott of Atlanta Hilton

Dear Anthropologists,

Please do not go to Atlanta for the sake of the workers locked out of the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco and for the sake of hotel service workers throughout the country. The Hilton Hotel in San Francisco has locked its workers out for asking for basic necessities that are common sense in the rest of the industrialized world and should be considered a basic human right: decent minimum wages and health benefits... (for full-time employees!) The conference in Atlanta is at a non-union Hilton Hotel. All sections of the American Anthropological Association should cancel their sessions in Atlanta. The Hilton Hotel and the Hilton Company will benefit financially and symbolically by having anthropologists attend their hotel in Atlanta.

By patronizing any Hilton Hotel while its workers are locked out in San Francisco (or anywhere else in the world or the country) we would be behaving exactly like United Fruit Company executives in Central America and multinational executives throughout the world who break the backs of unions by simply switching production to non-union plantations/sweatshops in neighboring countries when one of its plantations/sweatshops tries to unionize. That is unconscionably abusive and is much more important than any of our anthropology-meeting-related concerns. We should have the decency and humility to realize that whatever we have to say at our academic meetings can wait for another year or six months for the sake of hotel workers. Service workers have a chance of winning this fight for their rights because hotels, unlike plantations and sweatshops, have to stay put. The service workers union will lose if organizations like the AAA move around the country at the will of the Company to whichever city has the cheapest wage and most abusive working conditions. This is not a complicated issue. It should be easy for anthropologists with a global perspective to understand the stakes.

Philippe Bourgois
Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Thursday, November 04, 2004

SF Chronicle Spin -- AAA and Hilton Cut Deal, Save Face

If you're angered by this post:
1) "Support the UNITE HERE Local 2 Solidarity Fund."
2) Boycott the Atlanta Hilton if you go to the AAA.
3) Let us know what San Francisco events you'll be doing the week of 11/16-11/22 to pressure the Hilton and the other MEG hotels.

San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, November 1, 2004
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
[From "California's North-South split now East-West"]

Anthropology digs: If you want evidence that San Francisco's hotel lockout is hurting the city more than the hoteliers, look no further than the American Anthropological Association's decision to move its convention out of town.

The group had planned to meet here later this month, with nearly all 5, 000 members set to stay at the San Francisco Hilton.

But when the labor dispute hit high gear -- with 14 hotels locking out 4,000 cooks, cleaners, bartenders and others, after employees had called a two- week strike at four of the hotels -- the union-sympathizing anthropological association decided to move its gathering to Atlanta.

Breaking the San Francisco Hilton contract, however, would have left the association on the hook for as much as $1.2 million.

'We aren't very flush with money and couldn't just do that,'' said Ghita Levine, the group's spokeswoman.

Upshot: The association and Hilton cut a deal, agreeing to move the convention to the nonunion Atlanta Hilton, where the group had already signed on for a future meeting anyway.

So while the anthropologists got to send a message that they wouldn't cross the picket lines in San Francisco, they apparently did little to hurt the hotel chain's bottom line.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Sub-Section Mini-Meetings

Is your sub-section planning on hosting a mini meeting in Oakland or San Jose during the originally planned weekend in November? Let us know! I will update the list as we get more announcements.

The list so far:
  • Laura Miller of SEAA reports that SEAA "will have their meeting in Berkeley on November 20, and perhaps other dates, we are still planning "

  • Catherine Emihovich of CAE reports: "it is looking increasingly likely that we will hold some kind of mini-conference in either SF or Oakland. We may do it at SF State or the Chavez Institute in SF, or at UC-Berkeley. Depending on space needs, we may also consider a hotel that is not involved in the strike. One of our activities will be to hold an open forum to discuss CAE’s position on this whole affair, and then a delegation will go to Atlanta to meet with AAA leadership to express our concerns. I do not anticipate that we will hold any formal meetings in Atlanta, and most of our members will not present there. Instead, they plan to present at this mini-conference. We welcome the involvement of other sections, and we want to stay posted on their plans."

    More from CAE here.
    Latest is here.

  • A message sent out by Peter Biella to SVA members states: "As of this writing, the Visual Research Conference is still peopled and will still take place. Most of the original eleven panels and three poster sessions will take place. (Presenters are in the process of communicating among themselves.) The Film and Video Festival will be screened . The Board and Business meetings will take place." This will all happen in Atlanta, but "they are advising us not to eat at the hotel and to stay off site." Stay tuned for a second announcement from the Graduate Association of Visual Anthropologists by Tuesday night.

  • The AES issued an official statement: "Collectively, as a board, we have significant reservations about the Executive Board's decision to move the 2004 meeting to a non-union Hilton property in Atlanta, and we will be issuing a formal response to this decision in the near future. Individually, many of us have already decided we will not attend the meeting rescheduled and relocated at the Atlanta Hilton. However, even as we will be working to formulate an official position on what to do with the AES-sponsored sessions scheduled for the meeting, we believe it has become a matter of urgent importance that fair labor practice must now become a priority consideration for the planning of all future Association and section meetings. We hold ourselves and the Association accountable for having neglected this issue in the past."

  • The Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists (ALLA) says in an e-mail dated 10/26: "In the face of the continued lockout and in consultation with UNITE HERE organizers, I and the other members of the ALLA Board believe San Jose to be the next best option as moving the AAA Meetings to that city better ensures that the greatest number of AAA members can still participate.

    ... If at this time the AAA leadership is NOT considering San Jose as our alternate location, ALLA respectfully requests a verifiable clarification of your reasons.

    Moving to Atlanta will most likely decimate our ALLA sessions and prevent us from conducting necessary section business at a time when we are needing to fortify our Section. ALLA has long worked in coalition with other Sections (and our members are members of other sections as well) and we have been stronger for these relationships. As many Sections have stated their intentions of holding meetings in different locations or canceling altogether, we are further weakened if the AAA Board decides again to move our Meetings to Atlanta."

  • The Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) says: "the SMA board has decided to withdraw formally from the AAA meetings; that is, Executive Board and Business Meetings will not be held in Atlanta. However, SMA sponsored & invited sessions, as well as individual special interest group meetings, may go forward according to the wishes of organizers and participants. This is a decision that must be left to the individuals involved.

    The SMA Board will meet in San Francisco on November 19 in order to conduct its business.

    The SMA Board has several other matters and options before it. These include holding a public, "alternative" meeting in San Francisco, working with the Society for Applied Anthropology to move sessions which might otherwise be cancelled to their annual meeting in Santa Fe, April 5-10, and pressing the AAA to move its 2004 meetings to San Jose.

    Before we reach decisions on these various matters, and in order to craft a statement to the AAA that is reflective of SMA members' sentiments, it is critical that we hear from you. I'm writing to ask that you complete a very short survey found at the following website. Please respond ASAP; we would like to move forward as quickly as possible."

  • The Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) says: " On behalf of the three hundred members of the Society for the Anthropology of Work, the Executive Board hereby resolves:

    1. To boycott the Hilton in event of a lock-out or strike. This includes use of the hotel for any purpose whatsoever.

    2. To seek alternative accommodations for society-sponsored meetings in San Francisco hotels and venues.

    3. To authorize the President to spend additional funds necessary to cover the cost of alternative facilities for society-sponsored events."

  • The Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) says: " SCA Board recommends that AAA Meetings be moved to San Jose to recognize ongoing workers' strike against Hilton in San Francisco. See 'Meetings' for details."

  • The Anthropology and Environment (A&E) section issued an e-mail stating: "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."

    Read their full announcement.

  • The Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA) will go to Atlanta to hold its official meetings and sessions; however, SLA is also helping make arrangements for those sessions who wish to meet in Berkeley to do so. "However, there are some sections and some symposia who have already made the decision to meet in the Bay Area, and I would be willing to help any of those that are from SLA or otherwise language-related to gather here at Berkeley. It would not be possible to keep the sessions at their original times the whole week through; but I have tentatively reserved the Dwinelle Hall conference room for the times I could get it for, which are: Friday Nov 19 1-9 pm, and Sunday Nov 21st 8am-12pm; and we expect to have a lecture hall Saturday Nov 20. We might also be able to coordinate with some of the other sections that will meet at Berkeley to make a reasonably rich set of offerings."

  • The Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (SOLGA) issued an e-mail with the following statement: "1) SOLGA will hold its next board and business meetings at the AAA meetings in Washington DC in November 2005.

    2) Christa Craven is elected as continuing Co-Chair until November 2005.

    3) SOLGA will announce the winners of this year's Benedict and Payne Prizes on November 20, 2004 (the date of our original business meeting), and have an award ceremony for these prize winners as part of our November 2005 business meeting. [The idea here is that people can put the prizes on their CVs right away, and will still have an official award ceremony with a big audience later.]

    4) SOLGA will install Rudi Gaudio as Co-Chair on November 20, 2004, on which date Tom Boellstorff will cease being Co-Chair and will take up his position as board member.

    5) SOLGA hereby announces that SOLGA will not be holding board or business meetings at the Dec 2004 Atlanta meetings, and that the decision as to whether SOLGA panels or individual papers take place in Atlanta be up to the participants themselves. [We can all work together with the program co-chairs to gather information about what panels will still be happening, and advertise them to the SOLGA membership.]

    6) SOLGA hereby announces that SOLGA takes no stance for or against any counter-meetings or conferences in the Bay Area in November 2004, but will not be holding a business or board meeting at any such counter-meeting or conference. [As with Atlanta, we can all work together with the program co-chairs to gather information about events that will take place in the Bay Area, and advertise them to the SOLGA membership]"

  • The NAPA (National Assoc. for the Practice of Anthropology) announcement is posted here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

NY Times article on lockout

Full story here.

Classic bread-and-butter issues were on the table, including wage increases, costs of health benefits, pension changes, a right-to-organize clause and the length of the contract.

But talks stalled in September when the union balked at proposed health and pension concessions and hotels refused to discuss the concerns until Local 2 dropped its quest for a two-year contract, to expire in 2006. That is when contracts will expire in nine other cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York. The unions reason that if all 10 cities can negotiate simultaneously, it will give labor the kind of bargaining chip it needs to do battle with the multinational corporations that own the nation's best hotels.

"They are attempting to nationalize the unions," said Matthew Adams, vice president of both the hotel negotiating group and the Hyatt Regency here. "It would cripple our industry and we're simply not going to stand for it."

To protest the unbudging stance of the hotel group, union workers initiated a two-week strike at four hotels on Sept. 29. Two days later, the 14 hotels retaliated with a lockout.

The mayor called last week for a 90-day cooling off period but the hotels, now using replacement workers, refused to let employees return, even though the union strike ended as planned.

"We've never seen this kind of action from the hotels," Mayor Newsom said. "It sends a terrible message to the rest of the country that there is unrest here." The mayor, saying that the hotels were "putting a gun to the head of the city," called the lockout a "huge mistake."

Michael Casey, president of Local 2, called the continued lockout "indefensible and unconscionable."

"We have said repeatedly that all items are negotiable," Mr. Casey said. "The best thing for the big hotels, the members and the city is to accept a cooling off period and end the lockout."

Union workers on the picket line last week said they were particularly unhappy with proposed wage increases, calling it "insulting."

The union is seeking an increase of 55 cents an hour for each year of a two-year contract for untipped workers and an increase of 45 cents for workers who receive tips. Management has offered an annual wage increase of 20 cents an hour per year for five years, while employees who receive tips would receive an annual raise of 5 cents an hour.

The union contends the hotels' proposal would not compensate workers for the extra contribution employers want toward medical costs.

Medical contributions for most employees, who now pay $10 per person per month, would gradually increase to $40 per person per month over five years. And the proposed change in eligibility requirements would leave 1,100 families without health benefits, the union said.

... Workers on the picket line at The Fairmont and The Mark Hopkins last week said they were all too familiar with the high cost of living in San Francisco, especially on a wage of $14 to $22 an hour. Reva James-Frye, 53, a city resident and telephone operator at the Fairmont for 15 years, earns nearly $15 an hour, or about $33,000 a year. Roughly half of her paycheck goes toward rent.

"I can barely make ends meet now," Ms. James-Frye said. "What is the point of getting a little 20-cent raise if it's going to go back in their pockets to cover health benefits."

Guillermina Tremillo, 27, a single mother of a 2-year-old, works two jobs to make ends meet, both at the famed Top of the Mark restaurant. Ms. Tremillo also shares a home with her entire family, including her parents and five sisters, all of whom pool wages. But four of her sisters work at San Francisco hotels and they too have been locked out.

"My feelings are very hurt," Ms. Tremillo said. "I do two jobs so they save one person with me. They make money with me. You give and give the most you can and they just don't care."

Mr. Adams said, however, that management wanted the employees to return to work. "A contract can be had in fairly quick order if we can resolve the issue of term," he said.

Monday, November 01, 2004

AAAUnite demands full refunds - with option to donate $$$ to workers

AAAUnite urges the AAA to immediately refund registration fees to any and all members who request the return of these funds. Members who are unable (either because of logistics or conscience) to go to Atlanta should not be penalized because of the AAA EB and staff decision to move the meeting across the country, during an extremely inconvenient week of most academic years.

Further, we urge the AAA staff to streamline the process by which individual members, if they choose, may donate their refund directly to the UNITE HERE Local 2 Solidarity Fund or the AAA Scholarship Fund.

Many of us called on the AAA to outright break the contract with the Hilton Corporation (in fact 56% of those in the AAA poll did so). As members and sections, many of us also pledged to defray the cost of such a move by making financial contributions. According to a widely circulated email, AAA EB member William Beeman calculated the per capita cost of the $1.2 million estimated cost at $150 per member.

The least that the AAA staff can do, barring a direct AAA donation to the Local 2 Solidarity Fund, is facilitate giving by setting up an electronic process for individuals to donate their registration fee directly.

Robert O'Brien and Kerim Friedman
AAAUnite Ad Hoc Committee