Saturday, March 04, 2017


Photojournalist David Bacon has had many exhibits and written many books, his latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.   He has an important new photo essay that we'll note the opening of.

In photos and text:  The great San Francisco hotel lockout
By David Bacon

The full set of photos is viewable here:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 6SEPTEMBER04 -  On Labor Day, at the beginning of the campaign for a new contract, hotel housekeepers and other hotel workers march up Powell Street in front of the St. Francis Hotel, in the heart of the hotel and tourism district.

During the great San Francisco hotel lockout, the progressive leaders of the American Anthropological Association responded to the request of San Francisco hotel workers that they move their annual convention, because the hotels were being boycotted.  The association agreed, and the convention was moved.  There was a lot of controversy internally about the decision, and at the convention in 2009 they organized a panel to talk about the strike, and about the links between labor and progressive anthropology. I was asked to write an account of the fight for CIty and Society, where this appeared in 2009.  Two other contributions also discussed this issue:  "Toward an Anthropology of Labor" by Sharryn Kasmir and "Locating Labor: David Bacon and Anthropology" by Gerrie Casey.

The lockout and the two year fight that followed took place at the height of the George Bush administration.  Despite Republican domination of the government and savage attacks on unions, workers and immigrants, the hotel union doggedly developed a strategy to unite workers nationwide.  The union showed (and it is clear in these photographs) that workers in San Francisco would fight hard for it, and that winning was possible even under a rightwing administration.  Revisiting the history of the lockout can help to envision a strategy for unions and immigrants facing similar challenges today.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 6SEPTEMBER04 - Workers and supporters get arrested in front of the St. Francis Hotel.

The 2004 strike and lockout of San Francisco hotel workers, and the two-year struggle that followed, weren't just limited disputes over wages-a union in a strong labor town getting serious money for its members. Some of the hotel workers' hardest-fought achievements didn't involve money at all, at least not directly. Instead, their new contract, finally signed in 2006, put in place building blocks that made hotel labor much stronger in years that followed-coordinated bargaining, card check recognition, and civil rights protection balancing the needs of immigrants and African Americans.

Perhaps the best explanation for why the hotels signed the agreement was given by UNITE HERE Local 2 president Mike Casey who simply said, "they decided it was cheaper to sign a contract than go to war with us again." 


To continue reading, click here.

And for more on David:

DAVID BACON is a journalist and photographer covering labor, immigration, and the impact of the global economy on workers. He is author of several books, including Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2009).   His new book, coming in February, is In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte (University of California Press / El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, 2017).

SOURCES: “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter” (; Chico Harlan, “The private prison industry was crashing—until Donald Trump’s victory,” Wonkblog, Washington Post, Nov. 10, 2016 (; U.S. Immigration and Customs Envorcement, “Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act” (; Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (; Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, “End the Quota” (; Jens Manuel Krogstad, Jeffrey S. Passel, and D’Vera Cohn, “Five facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 3, 2016 (; Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Foreign-Born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics, 2016,” May 19, 2016 (; Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States,” Migration Information Service, April 14, 2016 (; “Selected Statistics on Farmworkers,” Farmworker Justice, 2014 (; “Indigenous Mexicans in California Agriculture,” Indigenous Farmworker Study (; “U.S. Immigration Policy Task Force Report,” Council on Foreign Relations, August 2009 (; “Visas, Inc.: Corporate Control and Policy Incoherence in the U.S. Temporary Foreign Labor System,” Global Workers Justice Alliance, May 31, 2012 (; “H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (; Buzz Malone, “Stop Blaming Immigrants and Start Punishing the Employers Who Exploit Them,” Working In These Times (blog), Nov. 15, 2016 (; David Bacon, Illegal People (Beacon Press, 2008); David Bacon, The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013); David Bacon, author interviews with Alex Galarza, Maru Mora Villapando, Deborah Lee, and Sergio Sosa (2016); Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton University Press, 2004); Ronald L. Mize and Alicia C. Swords, Consuming Mexican Labor: From the Bracero Program to NAFTA (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

In den Straßen von Guadalajara

Kinder – in Berliner Straßen

"Wir sind obdachlos, und wir wählen"

THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog

EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE:  Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall
Youtube interview about the show with Alfonso Caraveo (Spanish)

Interviews with David Bacon about his book, The Right to Stay Home:

Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center

KPFA - Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert

Books by David Bacon

The Right to Stay Home:  How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  (Beacon Press, 2013)

Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants  (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

En Español:

EL DERECHO A QUEDARSE EN CASA  (Critica - Planeta de Libros)


For more articles and images, see and