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

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to remind AAA members that most of hotel workers usually didn't prefer to have AAA members as their customers in teh past. Why? Because they don't tip. Even if they do, usually they are cheap on tips. It's nice to care about labor issues, but I hope that this can be a chance to be reflect on our own behavior rather than criticizing the AAA organization and President of the AAA.
Many people complain. They want their refund. But nobody mentions what we will do about the milllion dollors legal fees if we don't go to Hilton. Have you thought about paying $200 for membership and $250 for registration next year? The AAA is NOT your mom. Don't whine and complain to the AAA. Be realistic.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to remind AAA members that most of hotel workers usually didn't prefer to have AAA members as their customers in teh past. Why? Because they don't tip. Even if they do, usually they are cheap on tips. It's nice to care about labor issues, but I hope that this can be a chance to be reflect on our own behavior rather than criticizing the AAA organization and President of the AAA. Oh, also, what about going to Starbucks while wearing T-shirts with Che Guevara face on it? That's most of "progressive" anthropologists look like in their everyday life.

Many people complain. They want their refund. But nobody mentions what we will do about the milllion dollors legal fees if we don't go to Hilton. Have you thought about paying $200 for membership and $250 for registration next year? The AAA is NOT your mom. Don't whine and complain to the AAA. Be realistic.

11:26 AM  

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