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

Paul paulanthropus at cox.net
Thu Oct 21 19:37:52 EDT 2004


I strongly support the San Francisco Hilton strike and will not cross the
picket line of UNITE HERE. If the conference goes ahead at the Hilton, I
will cancel my registration, and possibly my membership in the American
Anthropological Association altogether.

I have seen so many misdeeds commited by this organization that I doubt AAA
reflects the spirit of anthropology as it should be, and may have been once
upon a time--a defender of the defenseless in this era of corporate,
globalized capitalism and a discipline that preferred a carefully crafted
science of humankind to cant that is not so much methodological rigor as
rigor mortis.

Too long, the American Anthropological Association has acted as an appendage
of imperialism, especially in its applied subdisciplines, and taken on the
characteristics of an ossified bureaucracy in its dealings with its own
members, not to mention others. How the AAA handles the SF Hilton crisis
will be an acid test for my decision to stay or leave. Others might want to
make similar considerations.


Paul McDowell, Ph.D.
University of British Columbia, 1974

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Angela Jancius" <acjancius at ysu.edu>
To: <urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu>
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 2:42 PM
Subject: [URBANTH-L]Two Further Responses on the AAA Strike

> [Editor's Note: Below are two more messages regarding the Hilton strike.
> 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,
> follow.
> 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.
> Best,
> Rob
> 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.
> http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgifile=/chronicle/archiv
> e/2004/10/19/EDGAB9B1851.DTL
> Other articles and information on which hotels the dispute
> affects may be found at the union's web site:
> http://www.unitehere2.org/index.asp
> or at Labour Start ("Where Labour Starts its Day!"):
> http://www.labourstart.org/usa/hotel.shtml
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