Monday, January 17, 2005

Overdue Update

Here's my long-overdue report from the AAA Annual Meeting in ATL, supplemented with some addt'l info received since.

Labor CommissionThe AAA EB has established a Labor Relations Commission. Former AAA President Louise Lamphere will chair. I (and, I believe, Paul Durrenberger) have agreed to serve through the November 2009 Annual Meeting. We haven't met yet, so I'm not sure who else will be on the commission.

The LRC is charged with (1) providing information to the AAA Executive Board and staff as they negotiate contracts that promote collective bargaining and the right to organize while protecting the Association from liability and the disruption of its scheduled annual meetings, and (2) seeking alliances with other scholarly associations for the above purposes.

AAA Dues

The AAA EB announced that they will be introducing an "un- and under-employed" membership category. This will be a category between Student and Professional. Unfortunately, since dues are going up this year, the Un- and Under- category will pay last year's full professional membership rate.

However, the EB has asked the fiduciary committee to investigate a sliding scale fee schedule. Since this will have to be "revenue neutral" (meaning that the AAA cannot make money on the deal), a sliding scale will mean that folks with jobs and security will need to pick up the tab for those of us who don't.

The fiducary committee wil be looking into ways that other professional orgs deal with sliding scales.

DC Contract
Thought you'd be interested, if you hadn't already seen it, UNITE HERE local 25 in DC got a contract offer on Saturday (Hotels, Union Agree on Contract (DC)). It will go to the membership, who seem likely to ratify it. Things look good for 2005 AAA at Wardman Park. The UNITE HERE local didn't get the 2006 date, but, otherwise, seems to have gotten a good contract.

Perhaps we can use an uninterrupted annual meeting in DC to build on the organizing we've begun online and at the SF and ATL meetings.

Future Organizing

My vision for what we need to be working on includes two immediate goals -- organizing around SF 2006 and building a progressive bloc of academics and others to work o labor issues.

San Fran 2006

Unite Here Local 2 in SF is still at the bargaining table. The cooling off period ends on January 23rd. The MEG Hotel group is still making offers that cut health care. They're also still refusing the 2-year contract (which would put SF in the same bargaining cycle as hotels in 6 other cities).

SF is Unite Here's strongest local. The hotels have made a stand there because they know this. AAA can continue to make a difference in this struggle.

First, the 2006 Annual Meeting contract must be renegotiated to include strong language that protects the Association in the event of a labor action or a management lockout.

Second, the association signs contracts several years in advance (I believe we currently have contracts through 2009). We can and should use this as a carrot and a stick for the hotel chains involved in the SF negotiations.

Please contact the EB and your section heads to let them know that you are in favor of these actions.

Building a Progressive Bloc

All told the conference business of progressive organizations (including groups that work on labor, faith, race, gender, sexuality, etc.) and academic conferences accounts for over $250 million of hotel conference business each year. Since this money is, increasingly, the only business that hotels can count on, we wield significant power. The AAA's long-term relationships with Marriot and Hilton demonstrates this relationship -- and its potential power -- when compared with individual business and liesure travel choices made more fickle by online travel services.

In order to strengthen both the position of labor and our own power in negotiating contracts, we need to build a progressive bloc that wields this consumer power. We need to identify people in other professional organizations who we can build alliances with. Anthropologists and the AAA have taken a strong lead in this struggle. we can and should use our successes to build greater power.

Please reach out to colleagues and friends and get them in touch with me, the LRC, or other AAAUnite members so that we can work in coalition.


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