[URBANTH-L]AAA and the strike

Pauline Lipman plipman at depaul.edu
Thu Oct 21 23:14:58 EDT 2004

I for one will not cross a picket line. I sympathize with scholars who
will lose money and opportunities to participate in the conferece.
However, in the final analysis, for relatively comfortable academics the
incovenience of the switch to San Jose or the loss of an opportunity to
participate in the conference or even cancelleing the conference is
pretty minimal compared with what the hotel workers face. How can we
propose to be concerned about social justice and even consider breaking
this strike, particularly since AAA withdrawing would be a huge boost
for the strikers. Any other action, e.g., letters of protest to the
hotel are completely meaningless. In a strike situation what matters is
honoring the picket line.  Let's be clear, to cross that line and then
issue pronouncements of support etc. is self-serving and more to the
point, breaking the strike.  There is no middle ground. We are going to
be on one side or the other. 

I agree with others that this is an opportunity to use the power of the
AAA to weigh in on the side of the workers for a just settlement. For
those who don't know, this is a very significant strike with national
implications for hotel and restaurant workers across the country. How it
turns out will make a real difference. It is also important because, as
I understand it, one issue is a clause the union has inserted requiring
the hotels to hire more African American workers. This is a significant
stand to build unity between immigrant and African American workers. The
union's stand here is setting a new agenda to break through the national
pattern of pitting immigrant and Black workers against each other. This
is not just another labor dispute. (see the following article
Where we stand matters. I agree that AAA should use its resources now to
organize with other conferences to put pressure on the hotel association
to settle fairly with the workers. 

If AAA goes ahead with a decision to participate in breaking this
strike, I will of course not attend, but I will also resign my
membership and participation in AAA. The organization will have become
irrelevant to the work I do. In a time when human and workers' rights
are being rolled back across the globe, how can we seriously consider
not honoring this struggle despite the enormous costs to the
organization? I don't want to be flippant, but it's worth remembering
"Where there is no struggle, there is no progress." 

Pauline Lipman
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Education Policy and Research
Director, Institute for Teacher Development and Research
DePaul University
2320 N. Kenmore
Chicago, IL 60614
fax: 773-325-7748
plipman at depaul.edu
>>> "Stephen Maack" <smaack at earthlink.net> 10/21/04 8:16 PM >>>
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
defend that decision and AAA leadership might be hypocritical.  I don't
recall being asked my opinion on that matter.  However, since AAA
all its members as a professional organization (your point 1), it might
viewed the UC TA strike as a local event and decided not to take a
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
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
that professional anthropologists are expected to follow.  For many of
crossing a picket line to attend the AAA 2004 conference would violate
personal ethics and might be viewed as violating the letter and spirit
the AAA code of ethics -- I'd have to dig out the code and think about
However, I suggest that you look at that code of ethics and then see if
can still so clearly draw the line between choice of moral or political
positions and professional responsibilities as an anthropologist and in
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
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

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
which they disagree, but rather go to the stock meetings and try to
points for change.  It's an alternate strategy and there is disagreement
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
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
That might make the non-union hotel workers more interested in
when approached later by the union?  I'm not sure.  Since I frequently
not stay at conference hotels anyway, I should become more conscious of
whether those hotels are unionized or not and how my potential stay
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
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
> 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
> 3) The people who vote for cancellation had better make sure their
> 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
> 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
> Board only started to ask AAA "members" for their opinions on what to
> 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
> 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)
> for Latin American Anthropology members of AAA, as well as SCAAN
> informed of the survey and provided background as I could
> yesterday.  Since
> the AAA Executive Board is meeting now there may be further
> forthcoming soon about their decisions?
> Other Sections than SAW and SUNTA are starting to consider or have
> taken their own stances (I'm on the NAPA Board and we are trying to
> 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
> Hilton. Also for this reason, and due of the logistical problems
> 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
> various Society meetings and functions.  We encourage other sections
> consider doing the same thing.  We further encourage members who are
> 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
> 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
> outcome.  However, one might read this suggestion, following
> Jameson, as an
> unmappable mystification (and cooptation) of late capitalism.  It may
> that the strike will be resolved by that date anyway, but I think it
> 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
> Board a sequence of AAA actions that could let individual sections and
> session organizers move their conference activities to San Jose, and
> those who wanted to continue at SF Hilton do their thing there.  In
> 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
> my NAPA Board responsibilities.
> The potential cost to AAA of cancelling is $1.3 million, but various
> factors -- including litigation potential (from either side),
> settlements, Hilton renting rooms to others, Hilton loss of potential
> conference business later, Hilton bad press, etc., could bring the
> cost to AAA of cancelling much lower than that.  Lawyers are for
> 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
> membership fee increases, donation requests, etc.  To put the amount
> perspective, ONE night in a single at the SF Hilton costs $159 (plus
> and fees), at AAA 2004 conference rates.  So we are talking less than
> hotel night exposure per AAA member.  There are additional
> implications for
> people who might have non-refundable airfare or airfare/hotel
> set up -- but the actual individual exposure there may be less than
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> workers' labor dispute, with employers promising to sweeten an earlier
> proposal on wages, benefits and health care and the union proposing
> 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
> joined by a federal mediator.
> Referring to 4,000 locked-out union hotel workers in San Francisco,
> 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
> Francisco and Intercontinental Mark Hopkins.
> In response, on Oct. 1, the hotel owners locked out union workers at
> 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
> done to their 2,600 workers.
> San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is opposed to the lockout and this
> 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
> was willing to return under those terms, but the hotels attached a
> condition: They wanted the union to remove from the negotiating table
> desire to have a contract that either expires or can be reopened in
> The union refused, and the notion of the cooling-off period appeared
> until revived by Casey on Thursday.
> In the original employers' proposal on health care, workers would pay
> 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
> per month Local 2 workers have paid for years.
> The hotels, which before the strike and lockout were paying $630 per
> per employee for health care, would pay $683.30 per employee per month
> 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.
>  > 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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