Thursday, August 7, 2008

American Psychological Association meets in Boston Aug 14-18, respects food workers labor negoations

Although the dues to be a member of APA are sky high, and attending the convention costs almost $300, I'm still going to be attending. My students are giving a poster, and I really enjoy hearing the diversity of big name speakers and attending sessions. And -- it appears that APA is doing the morally right thing to support food workers at the Boston Convention Center.

UNITE HERE Local 26 and the Hotel Workers Rising campaign have asked the public to boycott ARAMARK, a company accused by the The National Labor Relations Board of harassing and intimidating workers.

I learned after receiving an email from Judy Strassburger, APA's Executive Director of Governance Affairs, sent to all APA registered attendees.

Within the past month, we have been informed that ARAMARK, the company that provides food service at the Convention Center, is in negotiations with its employees, members of the Food Services Employee Union, Local 26.

While it is important to note that the Union is not currently on strike, there have been periodic demonstrations at the Convention Center over the summer. It is possible that picketers could be present during our meeting.

The Union communicated to APA that if we were to agree not to have any food served in the Convention Center during our meeting, they would not picket.

The APA agreed to respect the boycott, but was forbidden by its contract with the Convention Center to contract independently to have food served during the meeting. There are few restaurants in walking distance. The decision was thus to provide a free trolley service during lunch time to the restaurants that are beyond walking distance.

So -- I always like bringing a sandwich from home...

What can you do? Stay in union hotels -- "Hotel workers rising" provides this search applet. or list.

Update August 15 2009 -- At the conference, foodworkers were picketing, but for any atendees who hadnt received APA's memo, the dispute and action to take would be unclear. It appears that APA didn't cancel the contract with ARAMARK. There were food concession stands in the exhibit hall. I can understand how difficult it would be to have people attending a meeting from 8 am to 6pm without any food (or coffee) inside the massive building. So one strategy could have been for APA to post signs telling people about the labor negations, inform attendees that if they want to respect the boycott they should bring thermoses and food from elsewhere, or to purchase food at the union hotel next door (The Westin waterfront). Attendees would then make their own choices.

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