AAR/SBL 2012: Please Boycott Hyatt

Workers at Hyatt Hotels have asked patrons to boycott their workplaces. In conjunction with a group of religious scholars supportive of labor rights, they have addressed a special plea to participants in AAR/SBL to boycott the Hyatt McCormick Place and Hyatt Regency in conjunction with the conference. They’re asking attendees not to stay at, eat, or attend panels or interviews at those two hotels.

A petition you can sign at the link above will be delivered to the AAR and SBL Boards of Directors in advance of the conference. A strong, early show of support from scholars affiliated with the organizations will allow them to pull conference events from Hyatt early, and prevent them from forcing attendees to choose between attending events and respecting picket lines.

In Chicago, Hyatt has refused to adopt the contract that other major hotels abide by. Nationally, the boycott against Hyatt is based around their use of exploitative subcontracting arrangements, poor working conditions for housekeepers (and lobbying to prevent regulatory improvements), and other reasons explained here.

I have worked alongside the UNITE HERE union in many capacities, as an organizer in my first post-college job, as an ally when I was in local government, and as a member in my college dining hall. In the labor movement at large they are passionate advocates, tactical innovators, and well known for empowering workers as leaders in the union structure and as a “countervailing force” within their own workplaces. I have complained in other venues about dumb boycotts, but this is a principled and effective use of the tactic. (It’s notable, and common to boycotts led by this union, that they are called by workers in the hotels, who go into it knowing that reduced business means short-term sacrifice of their hours and tips in exchange for long-term strength.)

It’s by comment-section felicity that I ended up connected to this community, and I’m grateful to have the soapbox to connect something personally important to me to you. Please sign the pledge and help persuade AAR/SBL to move its conference business out of Hyatt.

As Part of a Neverending Meditation

I think it’s fairly well known that I’m in a different station of life than either Adam or Anthony. Where they either have their foot very firmly in the door to academia, or are still rather politely knocking, I have opted for a desk by the window, my foot aching from being both crushed by the door in which it was lodged and unmercifully kicked by people I could never get a good look at. For now, I’ve opted for a kind of labor that is neither manual, managerial, or executive (and yes, this post is going to myopically concern itself only with a certain type of worker, and fails to consider those whose workplace is non-negotiable on every conceivable level — sadly, these workers are usually also the ones too exhausted to blog), and as a result regularly wonder who really gains from me showing up at my workspace in the northwest corner of the eighth floor of a building whose inspiration is most roughly akin to that evoked by reading (or, depending on your disposition, writing) an obituary?

Continue reading “As Part of a Neverending Meditation”