[URBANTH-L] A Labor Lawyer's Opinion, Visas, International Ticket Reimbursement

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Sun Oct 24 03:13:42 EDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: <asteiner at mail.utexas.edu>
To: <EANTH-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>; <urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu>
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 11:40 PM
Subject: Fwd: Re: Advice of SF Labor Lawyer on AAA Contract

>Dear Colleagues,
>I hestitate to share the following after the fact, but do so at the
>urging of others who, like yourselves, were not be knowledgeable
>about one of the options I believe  the AAA Executive Board did not
>have time to fully consider. I do not know how strict yesterday's
>Oct 22 deadline was, but if there was any flexibility, I think the
>AAA Executive Board might have made more time to consider the
>information I provided Liz Brumfiel and Bill Davis  with yesterday
>1) On Oct. 21 I contacted a nationally reknowned and internationally
>known labor lawyer I have worked for the last 12 months on two
>different (labor and human rights) cases. This lawyer has argued
>labor cases in the Supreme Court and won Public Interest Law's
>Litigator of  the year Award for his role as one of the lead
>attorneys in the landmark Doe v. Gap sweatshops case.
>2) On the morning of Oct. 23 the laywer e-mailed back to say that he
>could work in a quick conference call to consult on this matter. I
>phoned and left messages with both Liz Brumfiel and Bill Davis
>asking whether there was any chance that they could join the call; I
>also e-mailed them and let them know that this lawyer thought AAA
>could minimize financial loss if the contract was broken. At about
>12:45 CST I spoke with the lawyer who said (based on the AAA
>description of the terms of contract):
>-- San Francisco is a pro-labor town, and in the event of any
>litigation, the verdict would likely be in favor of labor.
>-- He thought we could make a case for breaking the contract based
>on a) newspaper reports of spotty service and most importantly b)
>that any guest's implicit contract with a hotel is based on the idea
>that a peaceful, stress-free environment would be provided. The
>presence of noisy picketers in a labor dispute which the hotel had
>escalated from a strike into a lockout severely compromises the
>hotel's ability to provide this basic service.
>--The lawyer however, advised us to negotiate a "walkout fee" based
>on the AAA being able to show that a majority of its members would
>stay away from the venue, so that the hotel would not make anywhere
>close to 1.2 million. By negotiating a walkaway fee of perhaps
>$100,000 with a month remaining for the scheduled meetings, the
>hotel would have a chance to recoup its bookings from normal
>tourism. This lawyer has successfully negotiated such a walkway fee
>in another hotel labor dispute a couple of years ago. He offered his
>services at a reasonable fee to serve as outside counsel, and
>stressed that he would need to read the contract before making a
>clear determination.
>3) I communicated the results of this conversation to Liz Brumfiel
>and Bill Davis at about 1:45/2 pm CST. After I sent this msg, I
>noticed that I had received at 1:41 an e-mail from Liz Brumfiel in
>response to the first msg. thanking me for providing the contact
>with the lawyer which she thought would be useful in case of a suit.
>I received no response from the second, or third e-mails sent to her
>and Bill Davis regarding the specifics of the lawyer's advice.
>The letter the AAA sent out yesterday at 5: 44 pm EST makes it seem
>as if there were no reasonable legal alternatives to an implied suit
>by the Hilton. In fact, it seems clear that with a skilled labor
>lawyer, the Hilton would have been on the defensive, the AAA
>could've negotiated a minimal walkout fee that could have been
>absorbed by raising the membership fee by $5-$10 for one year, and
>our principles would have been intact. Instead, not only has the AAA
>decided to give the Hilton its business, but we have been made
>complicit with its union-busting tactics.
>I wish I had been able to reach this lawyer in a more timely
>fashion. While it is possible the AAA made a bad decision, it may
>also be the case that it made the best decision based on the
>information it had.  It is quite possible the rest of the AAA
>Executive Board did not know alternate legal advice was available,
>and/or that Liz and Bill didn't have enough time to deliberate on
>this, and/or that the deadline of October 22 had some legal
>implication with the Hilton of which I'm unaware. So this e-mail
>should not be construed as criticism of either Liz or Bill, to whom
>I will forward this e-mail. Given the fact that the AAA has now been
>set for dates in December (again at the convenience of the Hilton,
>and not that of the AAA), I am not sure whether it is feasible to
>revisit the decision that the AAA has reached with much thought and
>deliberation, but perhaps without adequate proactive legal advice.
>So I wanted to share this with those of you who have been following
>the issue, in case any of you think it makes sense to pursue this
>further with  the AAA Executive Board.
>If so, I  will be happy to share the e-mails I sent to Liz Brumfiel
>and Bill Davis if appropriate; and also to put you directly in touch
>with this labor lawyer who has impeccable integrity and is more than
>willing to help if we ask him to.
>With best wishes,

----- Original Message -----
From: Kuppinger, Petra
To:  urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 7:27 PM

And all!
At a point in time when getting a visa to the US is increasingly hard, I
think the issue that Jamila addresses is very important and should have been
thought over!!!! If anthropologists think of themselves as a truly global
tribe, they need to recognize the difficulties that their peers face in
crossing national borders!
Petra Kuppinger PhD
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Monmouth College

----- Original Message -----
From: "Zoë Reiter" <zr23 at columbia.edu>
To: <urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu>
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]AAA Meetings moved to Atlanta

I appreciate what the AAA has tried to do given a very difficult situation.
However, as a grad student doing my field research in Europe, I in fact
will have to pay about $315 for my change fee, not the $100 quoted by the
AAAs.  I have no doubt that there are many more in my situation.  If the
conference had been moved to San Jose, I would have been able to fly in to
San Francisco and taken a cheap regional train to San Jose.  Is the AAA
willing to consider help off-setting the costs of a ticket change for
graduate students? If not, can we push petition them to do so?

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