On May 22, Tim Lloyd, AFS executive director, wrote Tom Walsh, UNITE HERE Local 11 president, " with an open hand and a question: Although we cannot accommodate your request that we cancel our meeting at the Westin, what else can we do to help advance your cause?"
I applaud Tim Lloyd and Lorraine Cashman for seeking advice from UNITE HERE as to how else we can support their efforts without endangering the society's future. Considering UNITE HERE's scare tactics, it's says a lot about the integrity of AFS and the precarious position that we as folklorists are in to reach out to them. This is a very hard decision for me personally since I understand how easy it would be to not attend, but I also care deeply about the survival of AFS. Good luck in your efforts.
I support the boycott of the Westin. I urge AFS to find alternate venues (hotels or not) and use this as a chance to rethink what our meetings can be (and how they can work). Here is a chance to talk collectively about expectations for our society and field. How can we hold a meeting (and enter a local space) in a way that reflects our values? (i.e., where working people are not exploited, are paid fairly, allowed to organize, and supported in their efforts to unionize, etc.) UNITE HERE is a wake-up call: a chance to check ourselves and realign our practices with our values and principles. I urge us to take this as an opportunity to consider how we as a society connect with large issues of our time: fights for a living wage, the rights of immigrant and undocumented workers, income inequality, and climate change. How can we as folklorists be part of movements for change? What can we contribute? We can start by siding with worker sand acceding to their demand that we boycott. D.Kodish