[URBANTH-L]Support Labor -- Oppose the Hayden Resolutions
Robert T. O'Brien
robrien at temple.edu
Sat Dec 4 17:11:34 EST 2004
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
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.
Robert T. O'Brien
AAAUnite Ad Hoc Committee
Department of Anthropology
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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