How to Win the Arizona Boycott

Viva Los SunsIn the past two weeks, the call for an economic boycott of Arizona has spread far beyond the political arena. In addition to labor and immigrant rights groups, it quickly won support from such unusual suspects as pop singers Shakira and Ricky Martin, the NBA’s “Los Phoenix Suns,” and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Polls show African-Americans are even more hostile than Latinos to the racist Arizona law, and conventions from multiple groups are already being switched out of state. But boycotts typically start with a flurry of activity. Most then dissipate without building the boycott infrastructure necessary to achieve their original goal.

For the Arizona boycott to succeed, activists must follow the lessons of the UFW grape and lettuce boycotts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1970s and 1980’s, and the UNITE HERE “Hotel Rising Boycott” of 2006. And the timing is perfect for a “Boycott Summer,” which would boost immigrant rights activism both in Arizona and nationally.

“Boycott Summer”
The critical distinction between successful and failed boycotts is the creation of a boycott infrastructure. In other words, a campaign operation that continues after the media launch event ends, and that builds the boycott through continually harnessing and recruiting volunteers.

The Center for Community Change, its network of affiliated groups, and its labor allies collectively has the staff capability to build an Arizona boycott infrastructure. And while some might argue that focusing on Arizona is a distraction from comprehensive federal reform, at this point the only way a breakthrough can happen on the latter is by activists showing clout on the state boycott.

With summer approaching and many colleges already out, the timing is perfect for a massive “Boycott Summer” campaign in Arizona. Whether this occurs depends on the commitment of boycott groups to build such an infrastructure, which appears to be a golden opportunity to keep immigration reform on the national radar during hearings on proposed Supreme Court Justice Kagan, the ongoing oil spill, financial reforms, and other news.

Recruitment for a Boycott Summer campaign will keep the issue alive across the nation, nationalizing a local struggle in the same way that the UFW used grape and lettuce boycott recruitment to spread word of its struggle with growers in California’s Central Valley. Recruits also become troops in the larger battle for federal reform, so their value extends beyond Arizona and will likely continue when they return to school in the fall.

In addition, the campaign must set up the type of boycott team used by UNITE HERE to persuade conventions to switch from boycotted hotels. In this case, this means staff contacting every convention and public body scheduled to be in Arizona through 2012, and both urging and helping them to switch states (ideally coordinating with UNITE HERE so that the new hotel site is union).

Some conventions are set for this summer in Arizona and cannot move at this late date without a huge financial sacrifice. But most can switch, and with Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles nearby, there are plenty of quality non-Arizona venues.

The staffing of boycotts, with or without a “boycott summer,” is where the rubber hits the road. It means that activists are so committed to success that they will use this labor intensive and often controversial strategy to prevail. Announcing a boycott and then relying on quick media hits rather than building a boycott infrastructure sends a counter message, one that adversaries see as organizational weakness.

The immigrants’ rights movement has clearly shown it will do what it takes to win. The movement desperately needs to attract new recruits and energies, and running a full-scale Arizona boycott offers the perfect opportunity.

Defining Success
The national coalition announced the boycott on May 5 stating that it would continue until the Arizona law “is repealed, reversed by the courts, and/or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration.” This middle option—a court ruling striking down the law — could mean that the boycott could end quite soon, as many believe it is unconstitutional and/or federally pre-empted.

When California farmworkers forced growers to accept an agricultural labor relations law, South Africans compelled the white minority leadership to accept majority rule, and hotel workers won good wages, benefits and working conditions through boycotting global hotel corporations, movements were strengthened and the grassroots was empowered. None of these successful boycotts ended prior to the target conceding to the economic pressure

But a favorable court ruling would not require a boycott or even any new activism (to the extent judges are influenced by grassroots action the necessary amount has already occurred). Ending the Arizona boycott without forcing any action by the State Legislature or Governor would not empower the movement, and not provide the political victory apparently needed to pass comprehensive reform this year or anytime soon.

So the Arizona boycott should not be viewed as a short-term project. If it is, it is unlikely to succeed.

The Long View
A common thread through prior successful boycotts is that activists turned to the strategy because they had no real alternative. The same is true with immigrant rights in Arizona, a state that has tried to enact racist, anti-Latino laws for years.

An all-out grassroots, multi-pronged Arizona boycott cannot only change the new law, but also the political climate surrounding immigration. And not only in Arizona, but throughout the country, and in the Republican Party.

It’s good to see activists taking matters into their own hands, and showing Arizona business leaders that attacking immigrants hurts their bottom line.

Randy Shaw

Republished with permission from Beyond Chron -

About Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Director of San Francisco's Tenderloin Housing Clinic and the Editor-in-Chief of the online daily newspaper "Beyond Chron." He is the author of three books, "Beyond the Fields", "The Activist's Handbook", and "Reclaiming America".

Comments

  1. Reverend Draco says:

    From what I can tell, the only people who are upset about this bill are the illegals and those who make money by exploiting them. . .

    The whole, “they do jobs Americans won’t do,” is hogwash – if the Criminal Trespasser Apologists would ever complete the sentence, more people would understand that – So, I’ll complete it. . .
    “They do jobs Americans won’t do for illegal Mexican wages.”

    The sick part is, businesses have become so addicted to their virtual slave labor, that now, even American Citizens are expected to work for illegal Mexican wages. . .

    This new law doesn’t go far enough – there should be a means of dealing with businesses who employ, and landlords who rent to, these Criminal Trespassers. . . like a fine of $10,000 per illegal, and then seize the business/house/apartment complex under Asset Forfeiture (since they were used in the commission of a crime) to be sold at public auction.

    If I wore a hat, it would be off to the men and women of AZ who made this law possible.

  2. Racist lunatics like you are why I have no desire to travel to Arizona, boycott or no boycott. Like most insane people, you have no idea how crazy you really are.

  3. jediofthedesert says:

    I am from Arizona, and i agree!!! Thanks :)

    We are racist if we oppose the violation of our laws, and sneaky dishonorable illegal immigration and illegal trafficking?

    While i am in no way in support of racial profiling or the militias or minute men, these people are breaking the law! There have been deaths of innocent people living near the border along with home invasions. It is often in our news, people living near the border who have been harmed or killed by illegal immigrants and illegal traffickers. Most countries immigration policies, laws, requirements are far more strict than that of the US. If a person chooses not to lawfully apply for a visa and citizenship and instead to unethically and dishonorably sneak in, then they do not belong and should not be allowed to stay no matter where they come from. In every country i have traveled to i have been asked for my “papers” Australia for example requires an immigrant to have guaranteed employment for at least 18 months, or $100,000. Other countries do not accept violations of their immigration laws, yet here in the US we allow immigrants to enter and become citizens with nothing! Immigrants who come here illegally, who refuse to learn the language and who do not spend their income within their communities but instead send their income out of the US should not be eligible for citizenship! Further, Mr. Shaw is obviously not from Arizona. Our stores are full, as are our restaurants, things are good. As for unemployment, the job openings vacated by illegals and those who wish to leave are providing opportunities for employment otherwise not available. The opportunities for employment in the jobs vacated by illegals will help those unemployed legal citizens looking for work. We disagree that people are too picky or too good for these jobs, people are grateful for any employment opportunity that becomes available,…this is the propaganda spread by both those employers who hire illegal immigrants and the immigrants themselves who believe that legal citizens would not want their jobs…which is simply not true…the unemployed legal US citizens want your jobs!!! I would not hire illegal immigrants and do not know anyone who would. As US citizens and residents of Arizona we are pleased with the enforcement of our immigration laws and look forward to the future, we will continue to reside here, and don’t know anyone who is planning on moving. So, to those who wish to boycott or leave, your efforts are in vain, as they will not change our immigration laws and enforcement there of. Your leaving or boycotting will ensure more job openings for unemployed legal US citizens who are residents of Arizona! The latin people believe most of Arizona was taken from mexico, by force, a popular sentiment among the legal and illegal latin immigrant population, forgetting that these lands were originally taken from indigenous people by latin immigrants (conquistadors) from europe who invaded north, central and south america and who took this land forcefully from its people. People have forgotten the vaqueros (cowboys) forcing indians off their lands and latin people who had no hesitation in buying or claiming stolen indian lands (the origins of the cowboys (vaqueros) vs. indians). The latin people originally invaded and conquered this land by force, and now they attempt to invade, in a sneaky, dishonorable and unlawful way and reside here illegally. Hypocritical much? Latin immigrants STOP your whining!, where is your memory? honor? and integrity? Aztlan is not an indigenous movement!!! it is a continued consistent latin invasion…and without valid claim …their belief that this land belongs to them is a lie in the same manner as manifest destiny or zionism! …mexico obtained the land purchased from them by the US through conquer and conquest!!! …that which is stolen does not rightfully belong to the thief despite their delusions and false claims!!!

  4. The law is not aimed at legal immigrants, just the freaking illegals??? What part of this are the Progs/Dems/Libs refusing to acknowledge??? Anything for a protest against nothing. Wow, Shakira, Ricky Martin and 12 people on the Phoenix Suns oppose the bill. Me thinks this entire movement is made up of the Eric Holder’s of the world who haven’t even read the bill.

    As usual me and 63 others will be taking our annual golf trip this fall and unanimously we all chose the Phoenix area this year and we will drop our normal $2,000 per person for the week on the economy. We will be bringing our driver licenses and passports just in case. It is a small price to pay

    • jediofthedesert says:

      Right on! :) I am from Arizona, we Arizonans welcome you, and thank you kelly & friends for supporting our BUYcott Arizona! :)

  5. Steve Lamb says:

    I’m going on vacation in Arizona. Gonna see my friends on the REZ who never developed an effective immigration policy.

  6. Dear Wiam & Rick,

    What part of the United States Constitution do you not understand… the 4th Amendment?

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Now, I’ve got a great deal of sadness for people living in fear on those they do not know or understand. You see, I believe that liberals appreciate the rule of law and the Constitution, which neither of you seem to care about. Note, that the above does not say ‘Citizens.’ It says people, and that means everyone in this country, legal or otherwise. If you disagree, then you present your perspective that those targeted by this racist law in AZ are not people. Humm, what does that say about you?

    The law is so full of holes it is amazingly racist and expensive while not targeting the people who really are the law breakers here… but businesses and people who hire illegal immigrants. Where is the enforcement of that law? Well, it isn’t happening because in this country, business gets a pass while those filling in jobs for low wages that no others want to take at those prices want to do.

    The part of this law that is also insane is the aspect that makes it possible for crazy hateful people can sue the police and government for not breaking the 4th Amendment to the Constitution… lovely, now tax bills will go up in support of fearful people suing police for not arresting those they think might be illegal… which isn’t a local responsibility in the first place.

    On the matter of an AZ boycott, I think the best thing that could happen to this law, and the silly folks and politicians in AZ who support it, is for all hispanics, blacks and other minorities, (Ha… even Canadians) to leave the state ASAP.
    You and I both know what would happen… the states economy would collapse, famine would ensue as the real impact of lack of workers doing jobs white folks don’t want to do would really show it’s impact.

    I just love the failure to use logic and reasoning by right wing folks. They are so emotional and willing to give up their rights just to prove the point that they want laws prosecuted on the little guys but do not see the big picture and the laws on the books that create the avenue for immigrants to cross the boarder in the first place.

    You want to stop illegals from crossing our never to be closed southern boarders? Fine, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, prosecute businesses for hiring illegals with strong enforcement and heavy fines, the traffic of illegals will stop as there will be no jobs for them to come to. Guess what… WON’T HAPPEN! Why, because this nation is not a republic or a democracy, it’s a plutocracy, a greed driven corporatocracy where business and making money at the expense of others is the nation we have become. Everything is based on empowering the wealthy and not the citizens… it’s the old trickle down insanity that now gives us endless wars, environmental disasters, massive bank failures and lack of regulations that cause almost all our problems.

    But no, let’s go after the folks who come here to do the hard work no one else wants to do, yeah, that will solve all our problems.

    Give me a break!

    Boycott feARizona!

    • jediofthedesert says:

      BUYcott Arizona!!!

      You are obviously not from Arizona. Our stores are full, as are our restaurants, things are good. :) As for unemployment, the job openings vacated by illegals and those who wish to leave are providing opportunities for employment otherwise not available. The opportunities for employment in the jobs vacated by illegals will help those unemployed legal citizens looking for work. We disagree that people are too picky or too good for these jobs, people are grateful for any employment opportunity that becomes available,…this is the propaganda spread by both those employers who hire illegal immigrants and the immigrants themselves who believe that legal citizens would not want their jobs…which is simply not true…the unemployed legal US citizens want your jobs!!! :) I would not hire illegal immigrants and do not know anyone who would. As US citizens and residents of Arizona we are pleased with the enforcement of our immigration laws and look forward to the future, we will continue to reside here, and don’t know anyone who is planning on moving. So, to those who wish to boycott or leave, your efforts are in vain, as they will not change our immigration laws and enforcement there of. Your leaving or boycotting will ensure more job openings for unemployed legal US citizens who are residents of Arizona!

  7. This boycott isn’t about civil rights, it’s all about winning amnesty for illegal aliens. The AZ law will help stop illegal immigration, regardless of ethnicity. Yet the biggest criticism against the law is that it could cause hardship for Hispanics, even though it explicitly prohibits racial or other profiling.

    Liberals often resort to knee jerk name calling when they disagree, especially on the topic of immigration. I think one can be left wing and still understand that 1) Illegal immigration is bad for our country, and 2) In spite of the historical and contemporary racism imbedded in the GOP’s positions, the assumptions and accusations of racism toward all who are against unchecked and uncontrolled illegal immigration is not just counterproductive and unfair, it inhibits communication that might actually result in reasonable solutions to the problems caused by illegal immigration. Troll ratings by blog participants show a similar strategy to shut down posters who aren’t willing to toe the party line and support open borders (at least for one group of immigrants).

    If we are going to have rules and laws limiting immigration, and pay millions of tax dollars for our immigration process, then all immigrants should have to abide by the rules. Allowing illegal immigration from one particular country (Mexico) indicates a pro-Hispanic bias that out to be codified in law if we want it, or stopped if we don’t. It’s not fair to immigrants who wait years to live and work here to be superseded by those who sneak across the border. Worse, the result of the federal government ignoring this problem is that it becomes a hot button issue that the right wing utilizes to rally its base. Hence, it’s foolish for the left to continue bashing those of us who are NOT racist, but who recognize and acknowledge the problems and are willing to look for solutions.

    The AZ law codifies currently existing federal law. We already have to carry a driver’s license when we drive. My Canadian friends who have green cards carry proof of their residency (federal law), why shouldn’t workers in states like Arizona where millions of illegal aliens take jobs from citizens and legal immigrants and use up public resources? If the federal government hadn’t been so lame and ignored illegal aliens for all these years, border states like Arizona wouldn’t be stuck with the cost of dealing with problems of illegal immigration. All this boycott does is show how silly liberals can be when it comes to understanding public policy and finding reasonable solutions to our problems.

    • Wiam, please document in the law where it explicitly prohibits racial or other profiling. I believe you are wrong in your assertion. I challenge you to find the words in the legislation, “this law explicitly prohibits racial or other profiling” and let me know where they can be found so I can look up the law and the wording.

    • jediofthedesert says:

      True, I am from Arizona, and I agree!!! Thanks :)

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