The Human Rights and Social Justice Committee has been tasked by the board to assess the situation of the Baltimore Sheraton union boycott and recommend appropriate action, not just for this year’s situation but draft a policy and procedure to proactively address potential problems in the future. Betsy Taylor, who is from the area, assembled this history for the benefit of the Committee and the overall SfAA membership.
By Betsy Taylor
Virginia Tech University
SfAA met this year in a Baltimore hotel which unions have boycotted for years because of widely publicized and serious labor problems. In early November 2007, workers at the Baltimore Sheraton voted to call for a boycott of their own workplace. The workers were represented by two unions – UNITE HERE Local 7 and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IOUE). These unions kicked off the boycott campaign on Nov 18, 2007 with a rally at Baltimore’s City Hall, followed by a march to the Baltimore Sheraton with hundreds of people from over 30 social justice organizations and unions. Within a year, the boycott had been endorsed by the Baltimore City Council, several members of the Maryland State General Assembly, the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and other prominent local organizations. The unions estimate that the hotel lost $2.2 million in revenue by the end of 2008, as major organizations canceled events – including the Democratic National Committee National Convention, NAACP, and United Way. By July 2010, the AFL-CIO – the official national umbrella organization for American unions – had endorsed the UNITE HERE boycott.
By Mark Schuller
HRSJ Committee Chair
Trainings—expanding the ‘activist toolkit’
The Human Rights and Social Justice Committee and our members have been active this year. We have an active and growing membership, with some great ideas coming from the membership about building on and expanding our activist toolkit: in 2010, we organized a workshop on working with the media. Last year was a roundtable on lessons learned through advocacy. This year we had a workshop on working with IRBs, attended by 14 people: “Beyond the IRB: Expert Advice on the Realities, Risks, and Benefits in Performing Human Rights and Social Justice Research” – Carla Pezzia and Cheryl McClary organized the session that included Barbara Rose Johnston, Bill McKinney, Mark Schuller, Susan Stonich, and Betsy Taylor.
By Carla Pezzia
University of Texas-San Antonio
The HRSJ Committee recently started a new initiative where students get the opportunity to conduct interviews about the HRSJ work of experienced activist anthropologists. We will be highlighting some of these interviews here in the newsletter. The podcast team has also graciously agreed to allow us to post full interviews on their website. Any comments, questions, or suggestions for this initiative can be addressed to Carla Pezzia, Carla.email@example.com.
A Conversation with Dr. Josiah Heyman
By Allison Czapp [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Calls to action may be abundant in the anthropological literature, but the dearth of writing about how to be an activist anthropologist can leave practitioners of the discipline treading murky waters — particularly when the academic and activist realms can at times appear to be polar opposites.
By Mark Schuller
New York College, City College of New York
At the SfAA meetings in Seattle, the Committee organized two special events: a roundtable on the citizen mobilization in North Africa and the Middle East – the so-called “Arab Spring.” This event, organized by committee member Diane King and moderated by Mark Schuller, included Andrew Gardner, Hsain Ilahaine, and Julia Wignall. This discussion was podcast (http://sfaapodcasts.net/2011/04/24/chair-king-diane-and-schuller-mark-panelists-andrew-gardner-ilahiane-hsain-yogamaya-mantha-leslie-mutuku-rignall-karen/), and a second Issue Briefing came out of this discussion: http://www.sfaa.net/committees/humanrights/humanrights.html