Friday, January 13, 2006

Ongoing Labor Issues

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing in the hopes of creating a dialogue about ongoing labor issues affecting (or being affected by) the AAA. I would like to ask people to post reponses to the list and to keep these limited to the issues raised below, as they fall both within the rationale for this blog and within the purview of those things on which AAA members can urge the AAA EB and section leaders to take action.

Although the Labor Relations Commission (of which I am a member) has done a tremendous job in thinking through and addressing labor issues related to the hotels in which we meet for conferences, there are several labor issues which fall outside the purview of the LRC. (A report on the Labor Relations Commission's work will be forthcoming in the February Anthropology News (AN) and on this blog).

First is the issue of Coke's efforts globally to suppress labor organizing. The Labor Relations Commission will be discussing a resolution to ban Coke products from all AAA meetings. Individual readers might consider supporting such a ban and also promoting one on your home campuses.

Second is the question of academic labor - supporting the rights of graduate employees, adjuncts, and other contingent workers to organize and supporting the cases of folks like David Graeber at Yale.

Finally, as AN editors were just told recently, "AN changed its local printer from Fry Communications to Gannett starting with the November 2005 issue of AN, which resulted in a $10K savings." Gannett's labor practices are, of course, just the beginning of the problem with this media conglomerate. They're the largest newspaper chain and they've just started a bid to buy Knight-Ridder (the second largest). If you're familiar with Robert McChesney's work on media consolidation (or Habermas' work on the lack of a public sphere), you know this goes far beyond labor union issues.

I hope that we can use this page and the list as a forum to discuss these issues over the next several weeks, and, perhaps, to come up with a plan of action.

All the best,

Rob

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