Those who just recently joined the AAA might not know about the 2004 battle over whether or not the conference would be held in San Francisco. At issue was a strike by UNITE-HERE, a hotel workers union. In the end, the AAA chose not to cross the picket line and there was a change of venue. I played a small role then, having helped set up the AAA-UNITE blog and email list, although my involvement pretty much ended there. Robert O’Brien, however, went on to join the Labor Relations Commission (LRC) which was set up to help avoid having similar problems in the future.
Now O’Brien seems to have had enough. After a long silence, he has a new post up on the AAA-UNITE blog, where he writes that he is suffering from “commission-fatigue” —
the creeping death that sets in when you’ve been part of a successful organizing campaign that is co-opted and turned into a rubber stamp for the policies you’d been fighting.
At issue is this year’s conference in New Orleans. There is no strike in New Orleans, but the LRC members are angry that the conference is being held in a non-union hotel.
According to O’Brien, one of the things that happened after 2004 was a vote by the AAA Executive Board mandating that all AAA meetings be held in unionized venues. Now, you may disagree with this position, but it seems to have been arrived at as the result of a democratic process by the AAA leadership. For some reason, which O’Brien doesn’t explain, this policy was downgraded from being a “requirement” to being merely a “preference.” It isn’t clear if this is simply a difference of opinion, or if it was a change made by fiat by the AAA staff?
In either case, the choice of venue this year runs contrary to that preference/requirement, and the LRC is urging action. While O’Brien has personally decided to boycott the meeting, other members of the LRC are hoping to use the meetings to push forward for reforms. Specifically, they want to “change the conference organizing firm that AAA uses from the corporate-friendly Conference Direct to the labor-friendly INMEX.” They are urging individual sections to adopt proposals in favor of this change, and are planning to propose such a motion at the business meeting in New Orleans, as well as with the Executive Board. You can read the full letter over at the AAA-Unite post.
If you would like to sign on to the letter, please email Steve Striffler