[URBANTH-L]Two Further Responses on the AAA Strike

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Thu Oct 21 18:42:08 EDT 2004

[Editor's Note: Below are two more messages regarding the Hilton strike.  In
order to keep our inboxes from overflowing I will begin to group these
responses. -AJ]

>From Bonnie Adrian <badrian at du.edu>:
I, too, have strong feelings about this matter.  Here's what I sent to
the SCA, which solicited members' views
before sending off the SCA board's position to the AAA requesting that
the meetings be moved to San Jose:

The union's request for the AAA to cancel is a request for a symbolic
act that has enormous financial implications for the AAA.
While I'm not going to cross a picket line, I can't support
cancellation at the cost of 1.2 million while the Hilton would suffer
no financial loss.  I'd prefer that individuals (not the organization)
call for a boycott of the meetings such that the Hilton would suffer
enormous losses in room and food sales.  If members act quickly to
cancel their room reservations, perhaps the Hilton will pay
attention.   For symbolic/financial support of the union, the AAA or
its members could give a sum of money (perhaps as much as $100,000) to
the union to prolong the availability of funds to compensate striking
workers.  To my mind, that would give the union both symbolic and
economic capital.

 It makes me crazy to know that the hotel will realize little financial
loss while the AA and the union suffer.  Of course, I may be hopelessly
idealistic and naive.  Perhaps the Hilton would have grounds for legal
action against the AAA if the number of attendees drops hugely due to a
boycott organized through the utilization of AAA communication networks
such as this listserv?

Bonnie Adrian

>From Robert T. O'Brien <robrien at temple.edu>:

It appears that SANA has also drafted a call to the AAA to
move the meetings.

My two cents, which I don't think made it to this list,

Dear Colleagues:

I am emailing you to encourage you to contact the American
Anthropological Association's (AAA) Executive Committee
regarding the labor dispute between UNITE HERE and the SF
Hilton where the AAA annual meetings are to be held in less
than a month. I want to express my strong support for UNITE
HERE and for moving the conference to San Jose or canceling
it outright.

If you are a member of the AAA (the AAA's request follows), I
urge you to respond to contact the Executive Committee and
the boards of your section groups. Regardless of membership,
I encourage you to take action such as working with your own
union locals and writing Op-Ed pieces to your local papers to
support this strike.

The UNITE HERE strike is an historic opportunity for this
union to gain real bargaining power. In addition to fighting
givebacks in healthcare and increased workloads due to
layoffs after September 11, 2001, UNITE HERE is working on
two issues that should be of utmost importance to labor
activists and anthropologists. First, they have been in the
forefront of organizing for the rights of immigrant workers,
while maintaining a focus on the civil rights of the African
American workers who have made up the union's base. Second,
they are negotiating a contract that would end in 2006, which
would put them in the same bargaining cycle as other UNITE
HERE locals. This would make it far more difficult for the
major hotel chains to divide and conquer the unions,
brokering deals with locals one at a time.

Given the losses suffered by workers in recent years, the
increased importance of defending collective bargaining and
immigrants rights, and the potential gains offered by this
strike, those who support labor must support this strike. At
8,000 union members (representing 85% of the employees at
more than 60 hotels and motels in San Francisco) UNITE HERE's
efforts affect nearly as many workers (and their families) as
there will be AAA members in attendance at the conference.
Unlike the AAA, which represents researchers, university
faculty, policy makers, and others with advanced degrees,
however, the UNITE HERE Local represents the cooks, room
cleaners, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers,
bussers, housemen, PBX operators and dishwashers who are in
one of the most vulnerable employment sectors in the country.

Over and above this, as anthropologists we have a duty to
address people's real problems. Although few of you need be
reminded of this, the AAA Code of Ethics, the Committee on
Public Policy, and the by-laws of many sections support this
position. UNITE HERE has made clear that the best way that we
can support their struggle is to cancel our contract with the
San Francisco Hilton. None of the alternatives proposed by
the AAA Executive Committee are tenable in this light.

Moving or canceling the conference may be costly. It will
certainly be inconvenient. However, given our relatively
privileged positions, it is neither so costly nor so
inconvenient as a loss would be for UNITE HERE.



PS: Info on the strike follows.

Information regarding the strike, especially in relation to
civil rights issues, can be found at the following San
Francisco Chronicle link.


Other articles and information on which hotels the dispute
affects may be found at the union's web site:

or at Labour Start ("Where Labour Starts its Day!"):

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list