A Matter of Personal Conscience

\"Maurice J. Freedman\" wrote:

\"


I am writing this message to those 4,300+ people that
voted for me, as
well as all other ALA members.


I will not be attending the ALA Inaugural Banquet, at
which I was
scheduled to be inaugurated as President-Elect,
2001-2002. I will not
be attending the 3rd Executive Board meeting, the one I
should attend as
ALA President-Elect.


more...... Although I was going to attend the ALA Awards
presentations so that I
could be there for the presentation of the Lippincott
Award to one of my
dearest friends, Patricia Glass Schuman, I will not. Ms.
Schuman is
honoring the boycott and will not attend the Awards
ceremony, as are the
recipient of the Equality Award, and its donor,
Scarecrow Press, who
also will not attend. I have been told by others
scheduled to be
inaugurated or receive awards that they will not attend
those events.


I chose not to attend all three of these events, plus
other meetings to
which I was invited or would have liked to attend,
because they are all
being held in the Marriott Hotel.


I am supporting the Hotel Employees and Restaurant
Employees (HERE),
Local 2, call for a boycott of the Marriott Hotel. For the
following
reasons, I made this decision:


1. I chose to support the boycott request made by the
San Francisco
Public Library Commission (the host library for the
convention), the
mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, and 9 of the 11
members of the
Board of Supervisors. This extraordinary confluence of
support by
public officials of the labor side in this kind of dispute
is
unprecedented in my memory.


2. I ran for ALA President and was elected on a
platform that included
as a chief plank, improving library workers\' salaries. I
felt that it
was wholly inconsistent with that platform to ignore the
plea for
support by HERE in their struggle to improve their
salaries, working
conditions, and get redress on other compensation
issues.


3. As a graduate student at Berkeley, 1961-1965, I
demonstrated for the
integration of the hotel staffs of the San Francisco hotel
association
members, among other causes. Incidentally those
demonstrations were
concluded successfully, and people of color were hired
for positions
they otherwise had not been considered for. I choose
not to betray,
now, the ideals and commitment of conscience I made
back then, by
entering the Marriott.


Rather than simply ask the ALA Officers and Executive
Board to move the
above events and meetings, I also offered low-cost or
free
alternatives. All of these communications were private.


I was particularly dismayed that the one clearly free
alternative was
rejected. The director of the San Francisco Public
Library, Susan
Hildreth, graciously made available meeting room
facilities so that the
Exec Board could hold all of its meetings in the library
at no charge to
ALA.


I originally contacted Ms. Hildreth and asked for this
assistance, and
then wrote to the Executive Board, along with my
request to move the
meetings, to inform the Board of the availability of the
free room at
SFPL. I especially, and most respectfully, asked the
Exec Board to hold
its 3rd Meeting at the Library so that I could officially
attend and
fulfill the responsibilities that I was recently elected to
discharge.


I do not recall being offered an explanation regarding
the Exec Board
meetings, but I was indirectly informed that cost and
other
considerations precluded the Awards and Inaugural
events being moved.
As above, I was disappointed that the Exec Board
decided to keep its
meetings in the Marriott, not just for myself, but for
others who wanted
to attend Exec Board meetings, but were supporting
the boycott.


Due to this exercise of conscience, we have all been
precluded from
attending any of the Exec Board meetings. Or from the
Executive Board\'s
perspective, we have precluded ourselves from
attending these meetings.


I write this message by way of explanation as to what
actions I have
taken and why.


I will conclude by suggesting that others who support
the boycott give
consideration to participating in the demonstrations
scheduled all-day
Friday and Saturday, and Tuesday evening. The
demonstrations were
organized by HERE and the librarian members in the
Bay Area librarians
union.


I pledge to work with the Executive Board for the good
of the
Association, its members, and America\'s libraries, as I
always have.
But in good conscience, I just won\'t be able to attend
this conference\'s
Executive Board meetings, especially the third meeting
the one to which
I was elected to attend.


To those who feel that ALA should not be involved in
these labor
disputes, I respect your views, and trust that you will
respect mine.
You may be surprised to know that the ALA contract
with the Marriott
contains a clause that permits the Association to leave
the Marriott if
there is a formal \"strike\" called against the hotel. The
ALA Council
will receive a resolution requesting ALA to expand the
\"strike\" clause
in future contracts to include a \"boycott\" out-clause as
well. I will
support this resolution.


It would be a terrible shame if the kinds of divisions
and conflict
resulting from the current situation should ever recur. I
would have
much preferred to devote all of my energies to the
issues I raised as a
candidate, as well as such issues as accreditation,
etc. that are of
major significance to our profession.


All of the above notwithstanding, I wish you a happy
and successful
conference experience. It\'s probably the 33rd annual
conference I will
be attending. I can only say that attending ALA
conferences has been an
incredibly enriching experience because of what I
learned, the wonderful
people I met and lifelong friends I have made, and the
amount of
business I could conduct successfully as part of my
job.


Very best wishes.


Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman
President-Elect, 2001-2002 (as of June 20th,
2001)

Syndicate content