Tuesday, July 19, 2011

AALL, Consumer Caucus, Transparency and Bad Advice

I have loved my association for more than 20 years. I joined in 1986, as a freshly minted, eager, hopeful (not quite so young) law librarian. And I have been a member of AALL ever since, as well as a member of whichever regional chapter I lived nearest. But, this is like a lot of marriages....

I have to say, honey, your bad habits are starting to really wear on me!

Were you always so damned conservative with your choice of counsel?!

And have you always been this sneaky?!

I hate to think you really meant to try to slip that little Antitrust Policy past me. But I just can't help but be a little hurt and yes, I have to say it, mistrustful.

I'm sorry, honey.

The magic is just not there any more.

The trust is gone. You blew it. When you started flirting so with those big vendors, I tried to laugh it off. You know, "AALL's just all excited with the annual meeting, and all...." And maybe I thought, "Well, we kind of need the extra dough." So, I was, I have to admit it, a little willing to let you, (ugly word) prostitute yourself with them.

Then, when the FTC folks came to ask you what you thought about antitrust problems if Thompson were to buy West Publishing, Oh, AALL, you sold your soul, not for silver or gold, but I think for the pleasure of shaking hands with somebody who told you they were important. Maybe they just bought you lunch.

You started turning your head when Thompson would rebuff the librarians who asked for pricing info for the AALL Price Index, and then, took Thompson's side against the librarians!

Lately, it sounded like we were getting some good from our counseling, babe! When the Executive Board okayed the (watered - down) mission for a AALL consumer caucus, I thought, "Hey, maybe the old magic is still there! Maybe I can get excited about my old association again!"

But then, ah, no! You pull this stunt with the secret Antitrust Policy. What am I to think, honey?

Let's think about the timing....

The Caucus was going to meet on July 25?

But the Executive Board was going to secretly vote on an Antitrust Policy on July 21. And what would that policy cover?

The following topics are some examples of the subjects which should not be discussed at Association meetings, either virtual or live:

1. Do not discuss current or future prices (be very careful of discussions of past prices).

2. Do not discuss what is a fair profit level.

3. Do not discuss standardizing or stabilizing prices or pricing procedures.

4. Do not discuss cash discounts or credit terms.

5. Do not discuss controlling sales or production or allocating markets or customers. (This applies to services as well as products.)

6. Do not complain to a competitor that its prices constitute unfair trade practices and do not refuse to deal with a company or individual because of pricing or distribution practices.

7. Do not discuss anticipated wage rates.
I fear our consumer caucus would be pretty much crippled, dear! And so slyly done!

And worst of all, I think this damn'd lawyer just copied and pasted out of the Antitrust treatise without stopping to think or find out any details about our relationship, honey. It looks like the fool just picked up the general law about trade associations very much like this blog post for Building Product Marketing Trade Associations. Take a look, sweetie, and see if the post doesn't look an awful lot like what that old attorney has been charging you an arm and a leg for advice!


unstricken said...

Thank you Betsy!

Marie S. Newman said...

Well said, Betsy! The timing of all this is extremely suspicious. How did the Board think members would react to this stealth proposal?