My old friend Moshe sends me this post at one NYU graduate student union blog, a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education (behind a subscription wall) about the revocation of a book award.
Two Yale University professors, Ian Shapiro and Michael J. Graetz, expected to receive a 2006 Sidney Hillman Award on Tuesday at a ceremony in New York City. Instead, they got phone calls on Tuesday morning telling them that the judges had reversed the decision to honor the professors’ book on the repeal of the estate tax, Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth.
“I was stunned,” said Mr. Shapiro, a professor of political science. “I’d been about to get in the car to go to the city to pick up the award.”
Mr. Graetz echoed his co-author’s shock. “It came out of the blue for me,” he said. “Obviously, I was disappointed.”
The telephone calls came from Bruce Raynor, president of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which sponsors the awards. The foundation is a project of the labor union Unite Here, of which Mr. Raynor is general president. The awards and the foundation are named for Sidney Hillman, who was a leading worker-rights activist in the New Deal era and founding president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, a precursor of Unite Here.
First presented in 1950, the awards honor “journalists, writers, and public figures who pursue social justice and public policy for the common good,” according to the foundation’s Web site.
Mr. Raynor told the authors that the last-minute reversal had been based on information that came to light about Mr. Shapiro’s dealings with members of GESO, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, in its efforts to organize a graduate-student union at Yale in the 1990s. Unite Here has been involved with GESO’s continuing union drive at Yale.
DJW over at Lawyers, Guns and Money has some thoughts on the reversal.