[URBANTH-L]AAA and the strike

Stephen Maack smaack at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 21 19:16:31 EDT 2004

Good principled points, Susan.  You made me think.  Here are some of my
thoughts about what you said.

Was AAA asked to support the UC TA strike?  If so, and they didn't, I won't
defend that decision and AAA leadership might be hypocritical.  I don't
recall being asked my opinion on that matter.  However, since AAA represents
all its members as a professional organization (your point 1), it might have
viewed the UC TA strike as a local event and decided not to take a position
since it didn't affect most members.  The SF Hilton lockout/strike is also a
local event, of course, and it is simply because the meeting is being held
there that AAA is getting involved in considering what it might do in
relation to the existence of the lockout/strike.  AAA has a code of ethics
that professional anthropologists are expected to follow.  For many of us
crossing a picket line to attend the AAA 2004 conference would violate our
personal ethics and might be viewed as violating the letter and spirit of
the AAA code of ethics -- I'd have to dig out the code and think about that.
However, I suggest that you look at that code of ethics and then see if you
can still so clearly draw the line between choice of moral or political
positions and professional responsibilities as an anthropologist and in your
career.  I find it tough to figure that in all cases what happens in and
with a professional organization can be completely divorced from moral or
political positions -- sometimes it can be, sometimes not.  I'm not sure
your point 2 complaint logically holds if you decide to stick with your
point 1, since opposing the UC TA strike would have been a political
position (just as much as you might be suggesting that not supporting it
was?).  Were you involved with the UC TA strike in some way?  Just curious.

Regarding 3 -- yup, you are right, I should review whether my stock
portfolio has any Hilton stock.  Note, however, that some principled
activists do not automatically divest themselves of stock in a company with
which they disagree, but rather go to the stock meetings and try to raise
points for change.  It's an alternate strategy and there is disagreement on
which approach is best.  So point accepted.

Regarding 4 -- especially good point.  I suspect that we should ask the
union picketing the SF Hilton what they think about us going to non-union
hotels, if that decision is made.  I don't know -- might the union think
that if we went to non-union hotels that this might make a point to the
workers at those hotels that union organizing is supported by professionals?
That might make the non-union hotel workers more interested in organizing
when approached later by the union?  I'm not sure.  Since I frequently do
not stay at conference hotels anyway, I should become more conscious of
whether those hotels are unionized or not and how my potential stay there
might affect that.  I do know that if a hotel was not yet unionized, but
being picketed because workers were trying to create a union local there and
were being blocked, I would not stay at that hotel.

Best Regards,
Steve Maack

> -----Original Message-----
> From: susan mazur [mailto:susanmazur at hotmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:02 PM
> To: smaack at earthlink.net; robrien at temple.edu; urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu
> Subject: RE: [URBANTH-L]AAA and the strike
> Here is my perspective:
> My perspective is as follows:
> 1) The AAA is first and foremost a professional organization that
> I pay dues to in order to advance my career. It is not my venue of choice
> for moral or political positions -- for that I have my religious
community, political
> affiliation, and volunteer association.
> 2) The AAA never actively supported the UC TA strike - or other
> instance of unfair labor in academia - so their hypocrisy is breathtaking.
> 3) The people who vote for cancellation had better make sure their stock
> portfolios and pension plans are divested of all shares related
> to Hilton, the other hotels, and their suppliers, or they will be
profiting from our
> unrecoverable travel expenses and the 1.2 million dollar payout we as an
> association would be liable for if we up and move sticks.
> 4) The AAA would be leaving a hotel with a lockout for a NON
> UNION hotel in all likelihood - not necessarily a good outcome.
> Susan Mazur-Stommen, Ph.D.
> Assistant Research Anthropologist
> University of California, Riverside
> www.susanmazur.com
> ----Original Message Follows----
> From: "Stephen Maack" <smaack at earthlink.net>
> Reply-To: smaack at earthlink.net
> To: "Robert T. O'Brien" <robrien at temple.edu>,<urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu>
> Subject: RE: [URBANTH-L]AAA and the strike
> Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 12:55:08 -0700
> Rob and SUNTA colleagues,
> AAA Exec Board is meeting this morning (Thursday) to consider the
> results o
> their survey and how to proceed (or not) in relation to the AAA 2004
> conference and the labor/management dispute at the SF Hilton.  AAA Exec
> Board only started to ask AAA "members" for their opinions on what to do
> about Tuesday, and at first only asked registrants for their opinions
> leading to completion of the Exec Board survey.  I hadn't
> registered yet, am
> a NAPA Board member, and a 30 year plus member of AAA so was just a bit
> upset over the Exec Board ONLY contacting registrants on a matter of
> importance to all AAA (especially given cost implications).  So I am
> responsible for working with the Section leaders that I personally know to
> get all NAPA, SUNTA, and (indirectly -- through a SCAAN colleague) Society
> for Latin American Anthropology members of AAA, as well as SCAAN members
> informed of the survey and provided background as I could
> yesterday.  Since
> the AAA Executive Board is meeting now there may be further information
> forthcoming soon about their decisions?
> Other Sections than SAW and SUNTA are starting to consider or have already
> taken their own stances (I'm on the NAPA Board and we are trying to decide
> if we will have a conference call on the matter tomorrow).  NAPA Board
> members were sent this today from the Society for Medical
> Anthropology, that
> came to the following stance after a reportedly lively discussion:
> "The view of the Executive Board of the Society for Medical
> Anthropology is
> that for financial reasons the AAA should not cancel its contract with the
> Hilton. Also for this reason, and due of the logistical problems involved,
> the Board does not support the transfer of the meetings to San Jose.
> Many members are reluctant to cross a picket line, and many will not.
> Consequently, we are in the process of making off-site arrangements for
> various Society meetings and functions.  We encourage other sections to
> consider doing the same thing.  We further encourage members who are so
> interested and motivated to view this as an opportunity to engage in
> creative and productive public action.  Our sentiment was captured well by
> Board member Vincanne Adams:
> 'My suggestion to [the Board is], as others have suggested, that we honor
> the strike while using the hotel in various ways:  by helping to carry
> placards, making publicity over their cause, maybe devoting a
> public session
> for them to air their views within the conference, asking ethnographers to
> document their efforts, and such.  One might view this as a postmodern
> predicament in which old revolutionary tactics of simple worker
> protest are
> not the most effective, and in which using the media and our
> strengths as a
> discipline to help the cause in innovative and media saavy, as well as
> anti-intuitive, ways might be more productive of a useful and supportive
> outcome.  However, one might read this suggestion, following
> Jameson, as an
> unmappable mystification (and cooptation) of late capitalism.  It may be
> that the strike will be resolved by that date anyway, but I think it would
> be a huge loss to cancel the meeting.' "
> While I respect all the different opinions expressed, and the SMA
> stance, I
> personally disagree with it.  Although it would be very messy,
> might not be
> feasible, and could be divisive of AAA, I personally floated by the NAPA
> Board a sequence of AAA actions that could let individual sections and
> session organizers move their conference activities to San Jose, and let
> those who wanted to continue at SF Hilton do their thing there.  In other
> words, I say that we should vote with our feet as sections and
> individuals -- and we might as well coordinate this jointly through AAA to
> get better price deals.  A lot of people (including me) will not cross
> picket lines -- and no way is the union going to go in to the
> hotel they are
> picketing to be present at an AAA meeting "public session"!!  If
> AAA 2004 is
> only held at the SF Hilton, I will not be there for any meetings
> inside that
> hotel, if the lockout or a strike is still in place -- and that is despite
> my NAPA Board responsibilities.
> The potential cost to AAA of cancelling is $1.3 million, but various
> factors -- including litigation potential (from either side), negotiated
> settlements, Hilton renting rooms to others, Hilton loss of potential AAA
> conference business later, Hilton bad press, etc., could bring the actual
> cost to AAA of cancelling much lower than that.  Lawyers are for working
> through such problems.  Even $1.3 million, while it sounds like a
> lot, would
> be an exposure of about $118 for each of the roughly 11,000 AAA members --
> which could be covered in several ways, including four of five years of
> membership fee increases, donation requests, etc.  To put the amount in
> perspective, ONE night in a single at the SF Hilton costs $159 (plus taxes
> and fees), at AAA 2004 conference rates.  So we are talking less than one
> hotel night exposure per AAA member.  There are additional
> implications for
> people who might have non-refundable airfare or airfare/hotel arrangements
> set up -- but the actual individual exposure there may be less than many
> people seem to assume, since for about $100 or less one can often
> reschedule
> even non-refundable flights, and it is often possible to cancel
> hotel rooms
> up to 24 or 48 hours ahead of time at little or not cost.  So I actually
> think the financial implications, while real and they need to be
> considered,
> are a bit of a red herring, and that the financial exposure could
> be handled
> by most individual anthropologists and by the Association if it chose to
> take a principled stance supporting the union (or opposing the whole
> situation) and cancelled.
> For background on the lockout itself (previously a strike) here
> are a set of
> links that I compiled yesterday from various sources (I haven't looked for
> October 20 or 21 SF Chronicle articles yet):
> October 19 SF Chronicle article on relation of African-Americans and
> immigrant workers to this labor dispute:
> http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/
> 2004/10/19
> /EDGAB9B1851.DTL
> earlier SF Chronicle article from last Friday (n.b., I live in LA
> that went
> through a long grocery workers strike last year and has had its own hotel
> workers picketing -- I have no inside info but my gut so no quick
> resolution
> of this labor/management dispute -- also see link to article above from
> October 19)
> Hotel talks resume -- sides soften stances
> - George Raine, Chronicle Staff Writer
> Friday, October 15, 2004
> Negotiations resumed Thursday evening in the bitter San Francisco hotel
> workers' labor dispute, with employers promising to sweeten an earlier
> proposal on wages, benefits and health care and the union proposing that
> locked-out employees return to work with a pledge not to strike.
> Details of the hotels' proposal were not made public, pending their
> discussion in negotiations at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
> However, the
> union, Local 2 of Unite Here, said just prior to the bargaining
> session that
> it would agree to a 90-day cooling off period (until Jan. 15) and
> not strike
> if the hotel operators would agree not to lock out workers during the
> period.
> The hotel managers did not respond immediately Thursday to Local
> 2 President
> Mike Casey's proposal, but a spokesman, Cornell Fowler, was
> skeptical. "The
> quickest way to end this is to get in there and negotiate, and
> that is what
> we are looking forward to doing,'' he said before the session, which was
> joined by a federal mediator.
> Referring to 4,000 locked-out union hotel workers in San Francisco, Casey
> said: "This fight is about our livelihoods. Our top demand and
> our continued
> insistence is we be reinstated.''
> On Sept. 29, Local 2 walked out on strike at four of 14 hotels in the
> bargaining group. The union said it would be a two-week strike,
> ending last
> Wednesday. The four hotels are the Argent Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Hilton San
> Francisco and Intercontinental Mark Hopkins.
> In response, on Oct. 1, the hotel owners locked out union workers at the
> remaining 10 hotels in the group, known as the San Francisco
> Multi-Employer
> Group. These are the Fairmont, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt, Holiday
> Inn Civic
> Center, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fisherman's Wharf, Holiday Inn at
> Fisherman's Wharf, Palace, Hyatt Regency, Omni and Westin St. Francis.
> On Wednesday, the 1,400 workers ended their strike, but their employers at
> the first four hotels then locked them out just as the other 10 hotels had
> done to their 2,600 workers.
> San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is opposed to the lockout and this week
> asked the two disparate sides to agree to a cooling-off period,
> during which
> the workers would return to work while a contract is negotiated. The union
> was willing to return under those terms, but the hotels attached a
> condition: They wanted the union to remove from the negotiating table its
> desire to have a contract that either expires or can be reopened in 2006.
> The union refused, and the notion of the cooling-off period appeared dead,
> until revived by Casey on Thursday.
> In the original employers' proposal on health care, workers would pay $32.
> 53 per month on a premium in the first year of a five-year contract,
> increasing to $273.42 per month in the fifth year. That compares with $10
> per month Local 2 workers have paid for years.
> The hotels, which before the strike and lockout were paying $630 per month
> per employee for health care, would pay $683.30 per employee per month in
> the first year, rising to $951.36 per employee per month in the
> fifth year,
> in the original proposal.
> E-mail George Raine at graine at sfchronicle.com
> Page B - 4
> URL:
> http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004
> /10/15/BAG
> Articles going back in time (originally sent around by Robert Rotenberg to
> the urbanth-l list):
> http://www.usatoday.com/travel/hotels/2004-09-29-san-francisco-str
> http://www.btnmag.com/businesstravelnews/headlines/article_display
> .jsp?vnu_c
> ontent_id=1000653750
> http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/01/MNG
> IF92B1D1.D
> TL
> Best Regards,
> Steve Maack
> Dr. Stephen C. Maack
> Founder and Lead Consultant
> dba REAP Change Consultants
> 2872 Nicada Dr.
> Los Angeles, CA 90077-2024
> U.S.A.
> smaack at earthlink.net
> telephone (310) 384-9717
> FAX (310) 474-4161
> web site at http://www.reapchange.com
>  > -----Original Message-----
>  > From: urbanth-l-bounces at lists.ysu.edu
>  > [mailto:urbanth-l-bounces at lists.ysu.edu]On Behalf Of Robert T. O'Brien
>  > Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 11:21 AM
>  > To: urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu
>  > Subject: [URBANTH-L]AAA and the strike
>  >
>  >
>  > Dear Colleagues:
>  >
>  > I'm writing to ask what people know about AAA and the SF
>  > UNITE HERE strike (now a lockout).
>  >
>  > I've seen many letters to the AAA Exec Board and to section
>  > groups calling to move the conference. The SCA has called on
>  > the Exec Board to move it. SAW is formulating a response now.
>  >
>  > Anyone else know what's going on within the AAA?
>  >
>  > Best,
>  >
>  > Rob O'Brien
>  >  ********************************************
>  > Robert T. O'Brien
>  > Ph.D. Candidate
>  > Department of Anthropology
>  > Temple University
>  > robrien at temple.edu
>  > 215-803-5181
>  >
>  > "We're changing the world,...freedom is the Almighty's gift to
>  > every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on
>  > the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread
>  > of freedom." GWB on
>  > why God loves an imperialist
>  >
>  > "...a really diverse crowd here tonight. The haves, and the
>  > have-mores. Some people call you elite. I call you my base." GWB
>  > at the Al Smith fundraiser, October 19, 2000
>  > ********************************************
>  >
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