Sandy Smith-Nonini, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at Elon University, gave a paper on the recent victory of the farmworker movement in North Carolina at the meeting of the Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW), in San Francisco Nov. 18-21. Her paper, “How farmworkers won a union in North Carolina,” was part of a panel on grassroots movements in the neoliberal era.
Smith-Nonini, who is secretary of the SAW, was also active with a group of anthropologists at the San Francisco meetings in developing a reform agenda to be presented to the American Anthropological Association Executive Board as the organization revises policies on labor with regard to annual meetings. The AAA recently relocated their annual meeting on short notice to avoid crossing the picket line at the San Francisco Hilton where UNITE-HERE union members were locked out in a labor dispute. The lock-out ended on the last day of the SAW meeting, just two hours before a scheduled rally where anthropologists joined members of the mostly immigrant service workers union on the picket line. The union and the Hilton have now resumed negotiations over wages and health benefits during a 60-day cooling off period. The Hilton’s losses due to the AAA meeting relocation was a pivotal issue in resolution of the dispute.