[URBANTH-L]Support Labor -- Oppose the Hayden Resolutions

Robert T. O'Brien robrien at temple.edu
Sat Dec 4 17:11:34 EST 2004

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to ask you to 1) ask the board to pass last 
year's resolution in favor of restricting meetings to union 
hotels and 2) oppose Dr. Robert Hayden's proposed resolutions 
for the 2004 AAA Annual Meeting. These resolutions can be 
found at:


This is a critical time, in which we can and should evaluate 
the AAA's mission(s) and the role of the Executive Board 
(EB). However, these resolutions limit discussion rather than 
facilitate it. Further, they border on sanctioning the AAA EB 
for the widely-supported, ethical stance they took in moving 
the Annual Meeting from the the San Francisco Hilton during 
the worker lockout.

There are three reasons to oppose these motions:
1) Opposition to the "corporate culture" of the AAA 
has been clearly voiced in the past several weeks. The 
language of both resolutions supports further corporatization 
and clear prioritization of fiduciary over ethical 

A full accounting of the costs of the move to Atlanta must be 
done. Likewise, questions as to the soundness of the AAA 
Counsel's advice and the actions of the AAA leadership 
regarding this advice must be answered. However, it is not 
clear that the EB or the membership would benefit from 
narrowly-focused legal training. Neither an accounting of the 
recent move's costs nor actions regarding the AAA EB and the 
AAA Counsel should be conducted under the terms of these 

2) Although Dr. Hayden cites the AAA Mission Statement and 
the Long-Range Plan in his resolutions, he chooses citations 
in a manner that depict an Association few among us would 
recognize. He, correctly, points out that the "duty of 
corporate officers runs to the corporation in support of 
achieving its stated goals," yet chooses carefully among the 
goals of the AAA. 

The resolution ignores portions of the Mission Statement that 
refer to the goals of "the dissemination of anthropological 
knowledge and its use to solve human problems" and "represent
[ing] the discipline nationally and internationally, in the 
public and private sectors." Further, the resolution neglects 
the Code of Ethics of the AAA, the AAA Declaration on 
Anthropology and Human Rights, and the goverment relations 
and public policy efforts of the Association.

The cumulative effect of AAA and other groups moving out of 
San Francisco MEG hotels built political pressure resulting 
in an end to the lockout. This is entirely consistent with 
the goals and efforts I cite above. 

3) Just as there is no "value-free" science, there is no 
position that the AAA can take that leaves us out of the 
labor struggle so long as we continue to hold conferences. 
The AAA has two options -- to oppose labor's efforts or to 
get behind them. 

Roughly one-third of the hotel industry's business in the US 
comes from conferences held by groups like academic and 
professional organizations, labor, and progressive clergy. 
Hotel chains count on our return business -- as witnessed by 
the contracts we've maintained with Hilton and Marriot over 
the years and into the next decade.

UNITE HERE has developed a strategy that puts pressure on the 
employers without putting hotel employees at risk. This 
offers us the opportunity to, as Leith Mullings has called on 
us to do, use our relatively privileged position as academics 
to solve people's real problems. By using the power we can 
bring to bear on hotels, UNITE HERE has been able to 
get "card-check neutrality" agreements to unionize new 
hotels. What this means is that they use the economic 
leverage of the AAA, the ASA, the NAACP, and others to 
increase worker opportunities for organizing. In this way, 
vulnerable workers have not had to deal with the employer 
intimidation that comes with organizing in the US.

The success of this strategy can best be seen in UNITE HERE's 
history of organizing the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Over 
the course of a decade, the city's union workforce grew from 
10,000 to 45,000, making it the most densely unionized city 
in the US.

The AAA can (and in my mind should) be central to the 
realization of these efforts. Defeating the Hayden 
Resolutions is one step in this. EB passage of last year's 
resolution in favor of restricting meetings to union hotels 
is a further step. Both must happen in Atlanta.

For discussion of efforts to move progressive, labor-friendly 
efforts forward, please see http://AAAUnite.blogspot.org.

In solidarity,


Robert T. O'Brien 
AAAUnite Ad Hoc Committee
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Anthropology 
Temple University 
robrien at temple.edu 

"Don't mourn, organize!" 
-- Labor organizer Joe Hill, before being murdered in 1915 by a firing squad.

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