September - October, 2005
Contribute to Katrina Relief Through the
IUPSS Celebrates Social Security
Illinois' Chance at Health Care Justice
Chicago, Evanston, and Gary: Give Peace
UMWA Community Organizing Position
Labor Solidarity: Korea
IUF Protests Colombian Trade Union Assassinations
New Ground 102.2
Does Peace Look Like?
by Tom Broderick
It's a vision that many are working
to make real, in different ways, but not without common hunger.
Park Coalition for Truth and Justice (OPCTJ) proposed a Peace
Fair and Town Hall Meeting where an interactive public space
would allow groups and individuals to share visions of peace.
Groups were invited to offer their thoughts on what makes a just
and peaceful world. Musicians, spoken word artists and dancers
were invited to showcase their talents. On Saturday, September
10th, respondents answered at Scoville Park in Oak Park, Illinois.
They were disparate in background but
unified in outlook: Justice is key for peace to be manifest.
After several passes through the Fair, I looked up at the bright
sky and thought I glimpsed the rallying cry "No Justice,
No Peace" flashing along the sides of one of those blimps
that fly overhead at sporting events. With its "something
for everyone" appeal, this Fair brought to mind Jim Hightower's
Rolling Thunder tour that stopped at Union Park in Chicago a
few years back.
More than fifty groups tabled at the
event and estimates on the visitors ranged from two to three
thousand. Given that this was the First Annual Peace Fair and
Town Hall Meeting, that's a success. Nearly everyone I spoke
with expressed a sense of "good energy" or "good
networking" or "satisfying a need to connect with others"
at the Fair. And that is success. Others called it fun, which
is still success.
DuPage Against War Now (DAWN) showed
spirit with a booth that featured anti-war art, music, voter
registration and a game of chance, where everyone who took a
chance won. The prizes were all peace focused, reinforcing the
theme of the Fair. Kathy Slovick of DAWN said "the peace
movement isn't restricted to liberal communities. We hope that
this openness about peace will encourage people to speak out
for peace and justice." Ms. Slovick said that they have
had many people who call themselves conservative attend their
meetings because they are concerned about this war. DAWN's web
site is http://www.d-a-w-n.org.
Other peace groups at the Fair were
Area Code Pink, Chicagoans
Against War and Injustice (CAWI), DuPage
Peace Through Justice Coalition, Lincoln Park Neighbors for
Peace, North Suburban Peace
Initiative and West
Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition. This last group was
one of several groups signing up Fair visitors to travel to Washington,
DC, to protest this war on September 24th.
The flamboyant Chicago Area Code Pink
sported a brilliant pink tent and bright articles of PinkWear
clothing. They were selling their new book Stop the Next War
Now. They were also signing people up to travel to the anti-war
march in Washington. When you march against this war, why not
march with style? Code Pink has plenty of this.
The Oak Park River Forest Students for
Peace & Justice (SPJ) is a high school student group that
sponsored the Fair. Rachel Baiman of SPJ told me "As long
as war is considered as a way to solve conflict, there cannot
be peace. Beyond that, peace means everybody is well taken care
of, fed, clothed and able to live in safe, healthy conditions."
They offered information about V-Day, a movement to stop violence
against women, as well as alternatives to military service and
ways to fight world hunger. They also painted the peace symbol
on the face of every agreeable Fair visitor who passed their
Other groups dealing with American youth
as cannon fodder included American Friends Service Committee
(AFSC), the Chicagoland Coalition
Opposed to the Militarization of Youth and the Militarism
Education Project (MEP). West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition
is involved with this last project. These groups had literature
dealing with the pressure and marketing by military recruiters,
and they provided options to military service for our youth.
Web sites for the AFSC "Do You
Know Enough To Enlist" program are www.afsc.org/youthmil
MEP material can be located at http://www.forusa.org
and at http://www.faithpeace.org.
The AFSC set up (down?) a version of
their Eyes Wide Open Exhibit at the Fair. Eyes Wide Open features
military boots placed on the ground. The boots have ID tags showing
the rank, name, city and state of U.S. military personnel who
have been killed in Iraq. Walking among the boots is an emotional
This version of featured 72 pairs of
boots, one for each of the 72 young men and women from Illinois
who have been killed as a result of our unprovoked aggression
in Iraq. They have been killed in a war engineered by the lying
and illegitimate administration of George W. Bush. These deaths
and those of Iraqi civilians should be treated as war crimes.
The deaths of Iraqi civilians, since we started of our war, are
difficult to quantify. Estimates range from 26,000 to 100,000.
AFSC suggests that the dollars spent
on this war could be better used. For the state of Illinois,
they propose that:
These are not the priorities of this
or any recent administration. Tax cuts that benefit the well
to do, bankruptcy reform laws to increase credit card company
profits and the sucking up to global corporations are the struggles
that our elected officials have chosen to engage in.
The permanent repeal of the Estate Tax
was supposed to be an agenda item for our federal legislators
during their first week back in Washington. This tax repeal would
let the wealthiest 2% of our citizens avoid taxes on increased
wealth. If Hurricane Katrina has any silver linings, one is that
these snake oil tax repeal peddlers have to postpone their boo-hoo
claims that we are unjustly savaging the lives of the richest
Americans. We need to make sure that this is not just a delay.
The Estate Tax is a progressive tax that must be fully re-implemented,
The west suburban branch of Amnesty
International, Chicagoland Coalition
for Civil Liberties & Rights (CCCLR) and Muslim
Civil Rights Center were among the groups at the Fair with
an emphasis on human rights. CCCLR circulated petitions for a
State resolution to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act. They have support
for this from State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25),
but apparently need to find others. Representative Currie wants
at least one Republican to sign on as a sponsor.
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP) and its local
chapter, West Suburban Committee Against Capital Punishment (WSCACP)
had a booth displaying photographs of seven men currently condemned
to death in Illinois. They also had a bowl of Lifesaver candies
for the taking, a nice touch. Some Fair visitors were surprised
that we still condemn people to death in Illinois.
Illinois State Senator Don
Harmon (D-39), whose district includes part of Oak Park,
addressed the Fair. Senator Harmon has spoken against this war
at other OPCTJ events. When I talked with him, he told me he
"is in opposition to this recreational war." Responding
to a question about what impact the Illinois State Legislature
could have on the war, Senator Harmon answered "the administration
in office does not feel impacted by state legislatures."
Stating that he is not a foreign policy expert, he wondered if
it would be possible to recall the Illinois National Guard. He
feels the deployment to Iraq of the Illinois National Guard "poses
needless risk to fellow citizens. The events in Louisiana and
Mississippi show the vulnerability we all face."
Justice for the rights of workers and
communities was in evidence. American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was a Fair participant. Officially
they sponsored as AFSCME Friends of Heart. HEART is Healthcare
Employees Acting at Resurrection Together. Working with the South
Austin Coalition, they have formed the Oak
Park/Austin Health Alliance (OPAHA) to improve the healthcare
delivery system for patients, workers and the community. West
Suburban Hospital was once an independent hospital that has been
purchased by Resurrection Health Care. OPAHA has put together
a "Community Benefits Agreement" that wants to: ensure
access to health care for residents in need; provide community
benefit programs; recognize employees' right to organize; and
create community outreach/input programs.
Watch sent organizer Tim Sheehan
from Washington, DC. Wal-Mart Watch unearths the real costs of
the low prices at Wal-Mart. In their annual report, Wal-Mart
Watch shows how the bargains we find at Wal-Mart actually rip
us off. Wal-Mart pays many of its employees a wage that keeps
them poor. They also offer health benefits that employees can't
afford. This one-two punch means that we have to kick in $1.5
billion in annual federal taxes to cover Medicaid, food stamps
and housing assistance. This allows Wal-Mart to show a healthy
balance sheet to their investors.
Committee for New Priorities/Chicago
Jobs With Justice (CNP) and Chicago Labor for Peace, Prosperity
& Justice (CLPPJ) were joint sponsors of the Fair. They want
"to connect the dots between the war and its domestic social
cost and point to a better way." Their vision of a peaceful
society is one that "makes human needs the first priority
and protects the rights of all people." They wonder what
happened to the "peace dividend" that should have come
with the end of the Cold War. "Without the huge military
expenditures for nuclear weapons and wars of conquest, we could
easily provide for jobs, health care and education for all."
This last line may well be the link for all participants of the
Pat Vogel, of Military
Families Speak Out, was a featured speaker. She went to Camp
Casey in Crawford Texas last month to support Cindy Sheehan's
attempt to engage George W. Bush in discussion. Ms. Vogel and
her husband began speaking out against this war when soldiers
in her son's unit were killed in Iraq. Her son, Aaron, joined
Iraq Vets Against the War after finishing his time in Iraq.
DSA was among the groups sponsoring
the fair, and several DSA members worked to organize it. Well
over a hundred people stopped at our table for literature, exhausting
our entire supply of "No War" buttons. Nearly everyone
else stopped and grinned at our effigy of Dubya with pants afire.
One of the things that made this Fair
more appealing was its activities for children and musicians,
dancers and poets for the not-as-young. Children were treated
to storytelling and encouraged to sing and engage in crafts.
A peace fair in Oak Park would not forget about children.
The music covered a wide spectrum. The
Michael Levin / Donald Neale Ensemble started us out with jazz.
Laura Good and Friends was certainly aiming at my (over 50) memories
with their renditions of CSNY songs like "Chicago"
and "Ohio". Whether they were pandering or not, I enjoyed
their song set. The Wandering Endorphin (Jim Green) played (?)
guitar, alternating between a traditional style and one that
had him slapping the strings, body and neck. His performance
was fun to hear as well as wild to watch. It was unfortunate
that the musicians had to play through a problematic sound system,
but perform they did.
Nahui Ollin Quetzalyolotl was a group
that performed dances based on Azteca-Mexican traditions. This
was a fascinating plus, that involved sound, movement and costumes.
During their performance, one of the performers announced that
they came to this Peace Fair, because they knew about invasion
and occupation. They dance as a prayer for peace and justice.
Poets made their words felt throughout
the day. AvantRetro, which is a poetry duo made up of Charlie
Rossiter and Al DeGenova started it up with energy. Mr. Rossiter
is the force behind the Oak Park Unity Temple performance nights.
Several of the wordsmiths at this Fair have previously performed
there. One of them was Quraysh Ali Lasana, who has a great book
of poems based on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad,
They Shall Run: Harriet Tubman Poems. We were also able
to hear some of the best of Oak Park River Forest High School's
Spoken Word Club. These wordsmiths spoke their thoughts and feelings
speaking openly as an example of what peace must look like.
Development or Robbery?
by Stan Rosen
The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate
Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation
by Greg LeRoy. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler 2005; 290 pp; $24.95
This is a well documented study, typified
by incisive analysis, numerous dramatic specific examples of
developer scams, and proposals for action. This comprehensive
presentation was researched and prepared by former Chicago activist,
Greg LeRoy, who is now the Director of the national organization,
Good Jobs First.
It is must reading for any activist who wishes to play a progressive
role in understanding and shaping economic development at the
national, state, and local levels.
In the introduction, LeRoy sets the
challenge. The competition for employment among cities, counties,
and states is so intense, the companies (who often have already
decided on a site) arrange an auction among them to see which
will pay the greatest bribe. The result is bidding up the prices
that the taxpayers must pay. This book should broaden the ranks
of Americans who are actively involved in stopping these crimes
and restore meaning to the processes of economic development.
Economic development should be devoted to public purposes, ideally
to long term improvements that can be expected to benefit everyone,
including future generations. At the core of this scam are corrupted
definitions of competition that obscure cause and effect. The
book makes it clear that economic development as practiced in
the United States destroys communities and jobs and serves instead
mainly selfish and profit oriented objectives.
Each of the nine chapters discuss, in
detail and through examples, the problems to be faced. Each provides
a primer for progressive action. The topics covered include:
tax dodges, job blackmail, site location (expansion or relocation),
the rising economic war among the states, the corporate assault
on the income tax, property tax abatement, subsidizing sprawl,
looting and the economics of sports stadiums, and shifting the
tax burden. Each chapter is readable and provides the information
and tools to fight back.
The most powerful tool for activists
is the final chapter, "Building a Consensus for Reform".
This chapter suggests ways to encourage a serious involvement
in the process. Democratic socialists and coalition friends need
to better master the issues, and give full time and continuing
attention to the task. Reacting campaigns, which often influence
but not prevent the various scams, are too little too late. Proaction
is required if we are to insure that economic development is
for the benefit of the citizens and not for narrow special interests.
The twelve suggestions in this chapter and allied materials are
an important start.
I was particularly excited by Reform
12: Community Benefits Agreements.
"Pioneered by the Los Angeles Alliance
for the New Economy, these are legal contracts negotiated between
community coalitions and developers to make sure that city residents
benefit from the redevelopment of their neighborhoods. Each contract
is tailored, but they often include provisions for first source
hiring (to give local workers the first choice to qualify for
the jobs), living wage job quality standards, affordable housing
assistance, environmental and open space allowances, construction
and support for child care centers or health care clinics."
Once the community coalition and the
developer agree on the Community Benefits Agreement, the coalition
supports the developer's application to the city for subsidies
and the agreement is attached to the redevelopment agreement
between the city and the developer, making it legally enforceable.
Such a process, similar to collective bargaining, makes the citizens
full partners in the process.
In Sweden, economic policy goals are
established by the national government and provide comprehensive
and coordinated support to local governments. We need to support
the development of economic development policies that encourage
and permit our government leaders to administer such programs
in the public interest. Like Michael Harrington's book The
Other America, this book lays down in dramatic and easily
understood language, a challenge in terms of economic development.
Hopefully, democratic socialists will spearhead this campaign.
Editor's Note: Stanley "Rosebud"
Rosen is a founding member of Chicago DSA, Professor Emeritus
University of Illinois at Chicago, presently retired in Santa
Fe, New Mexico. See "Resurrecting West Suburban Hospital"
below for a local example of a "Community Benefits Agreement".
West Suburban Hospital's Commitment to the Oak Park / Austin
by Bill Barclay
In 2004, Resurrection Health Care acquired
West Suburban Hospital, a long time independent hospital on the
east side of Oak Park. "West Sub", as the hospital
was (and still is) known, served both Oak Park and Austin residents
as a primary source of health care. Over the years, West Sub
had grown into one of the largest employers in the two communities.
The acquisition continued Resurrection Health Care's rapid growth
into the second largest provider of health largest providers
of health care in the Chicago metropolitan area. It also accelerated
a shift already underway, moving West Sub further away from being
an institution with important ties to the local community to
that of a business with greater focus on the bottom line.
At the time of the acquisition, there
was significant community concern about the impact of the deal
on the quality and availability of health care for Oak Park and
Austin residents, particularly the provision of charity care
for the growing number of uninsured. The concern drew the attention
of Attorney General Lisa Madigan who intervened by requiring
Resurrection to agree that the level of charity care provided
and its availability would not be lower under the new ownership
than it had been prior to the acquisition.
By late spring of this year, the experience
of residents in Oak Park and Austin with the new entity, Resurrection
West Suburban (RWS), was sufficient to raise questions about
the adherence of RWS to the terms of the Madigan agreement. In
response to this growing concern, four organizations came together
to form the Oak Park / Austin Health Alliance (OPAHA): the South
Austin Community Coalition, Oak Park Coalition for Truth and
Justice, GOP DSA, and AFSCME Council 31. Research undertaken
by AFSCME staff provided empirical support for what community
members had experienced: WRS's level of charity care had declined
23% on a dollar-measured basis when the first 6 months following
acquisition were compared to the 6 months prior to acquisition.
The first action of OPAHA was to develop
a proposed Community Benefits Agreement. The agreement proposed:
(i) that RWS return at least to the
level of charity care provided prior to the acquisition;
(ii) that RWS work with OPAHA in developing
an outreach program to educate residents about the availability
of charity care;
(iii) the RWS develop additional health
programs for the surrounding community, and
(iv) that RWS recognize employees' right
During early August, OPAHA members went
door to door in both Austin and Oak Park, educating the communities
about the issue and collecting more than 10,000 signatures on
a petition to the Attorney General's office. The petition asked
the Attorney General to investigate RWS's performance to date
vs. the terms of the agreement. In mid August, a community meeting
was held that drew more than 200 people to discuss RWS and the
health care situation in the area. This event was followed up
by a visit to the Attorney General's office in September where
the petition was presented and community concerns with RWS's
performance were discussed with senior members of the Attorney
General's staff. At this writing, OPAHA is still awaiting a response
from Madigan's office but believes that the issue has been taken
very seriously by staff. OPAHA is not, however, simply waiting
for Madigan's office to respond but is continuing to apply pressure
to RWS: there is another community meeting scheduled for October
25th at which senior executives of RWS will be invited to respond
to the issues and concerns of Oak Park and Austin residents.
For more information, contact the Oak
Park / Austin Health Alliance at 773.287.4570.
New YDS Organizer: Elizabeth Rothschild
Hey YDSers! I'm the new National
Organizer! I just settled
into NYC from the Northern Virginia/DC area in June. I'm a little
bit of an artist and a hip hop dancer and I love all kinds of
music. I'm a tad bit silly and extremely passionate and I can't
wait to begin working with all of you. Now let me tell you a
little bit about my background in politics.
My last two summers were spent teaching
in a program called Freedom Schools in NYC, which is run by the
Children's Defense Fund and modeled after the Freedom Schools
from the Civil Rights Movement Freedom Summer of 1964. The program
integrates reading, conflict resolution and social action in
an activity-based curriculum that promotes social, cultural,
and historical awareness. Working with the Freedom Schools has
helped me develop ways to connect large macro-level ideologies
informed by my socialist vision, to a micro-level (classroom)
experience. But the Freedom Schools were more than a classroom
experience, they were about building a movement: linking schools
across the nation together, creating an alternative educational
institution, and engaging in political struggles for progressive
change. (We participated in voter registration in the community
last year, protested at City Hall against Bush's tax cuts, and
worked with an ex-felon rehabilitation program learning about
the cradle-to-prison pipeline.)
I have also worked with the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights, and I did extensive Affirmative Action
organizing around the Michigan case several years ago. I recently
graduated from the University of Virginia where I majored in
African American Studies and Sociology with a minor in Politics
and was involved in anti-racist organizing through both leadership
in groups such as the NAACP and Sustained Dialogue. I worked
as a liaison between many different groups and coalitions on
campus as we tried to bring structural changes to the rather
I believe deeply in the importance of
political education, self-criticism and constant re-evaluation
to the movement for social justice. There is a lot of work to
be done to build a stronger Left in this country, especially
towards connecting anti-racist, feminist, labor, queer rights,
environmental, community and electoral activism in a much more
meaningful and effective way. I'm definitely looking forward
to working with many of you, traveling to campuses and communities
around the country, and working to strengthen YDS and the democratic
socialist movement. Onward!
Editor's Note: This first appeard
in the email YDS Update. Elizabeth Rothschild can be reached
or 212-727-8610 ext. 24. She will be working with YDS' outgoing
organizer, Lucas Shapiro, through the fall.
Summer Retreat a Memorable Success
by Ben Hyink
This summer's YDS retreat in Ossing,
New York, was well worth the travel costs. The location, a small
castle once owned by Corliss Lamont, was near the city but still
rural (and quiet) enough to feel like a true "retreat."
A section of the building is open to the elements because a fire
destroyed the roof long ago, but it was redesigned to serve as
a patio instead; I heard that it might be repaired with the help
of some trade unions in the future. Foam and "regular"
mattresses were available for approximately fifty participants
over the weekend, and there was a surplus of extra blankets,
bug spray and other materials for forgetful attendees (myself
included). The hot weather was the only subject of common complaint.
After helping to set up the area or
collecting groceries, we heard Joseph Schwartz (DSA National
Political Committee and past YDS organizer) speak on, "The
State of the American Left/Socialism." Two points I recall
Schwartz making were that we happen to live in "the most
anti-socialist nation in the world" (not hard to accept
if one is paying attention to media ideology and "mainstream"
political rhetoric) and that if we want to not only slow right-wing
erosion of the what remains of the welfare state but actually
reverse course by changing hearts and minds, "some people
have to be the ["out"] socialists." A lively Q
& A session set a precedent that was continued throughout
the retreat. Conversations on political theory, activist experiences
and future organizational strategies continued late into the
night both Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday I attended a fascinating
led by former YDS National Organizer Eliyanna Kaiser on the historical
relationship of feminist and socialist theory. At the end she
spoke briefly about her new role as the Senior Editor and Ad
Director of Spread magazine, a publication by and for
the sex worker community. She felt that offering people a means
to express their own voice is critical to empowering them, and
that as a group sex workers (broadly defined) remain one of the
populations most vulnerable discrimination, exploitation, violence,
and suppression of basic human rights, including police abuse.
The second session I attended was "Learning
About and From the Christian Right," led by Amanda Singer
and (YDS co-President) Maria Svart. In analyzing the activities
of the Christian Right base, we agreed that valuable activities
such as the provision of community service were often used as
leverage for political gains, while the political privatization
of social service in turn helped such charity organizations to
gain influence. Much of the discussion focused on ideological
trends in the Religious Right.
Christian Parenti's account of his experiences
in Iraq and Venezuela, and his analysis of the historical context,
current conditions and possible futures were engrossing and highly
informative. He provided first-hand accounts along with historical
context that rarely, if ever, appears in print or on television
in America, as well as independent assessments of questions frequently
debated in the media. When we were asked at the end of the conference
for recommendations to improve future events, my only one was
to invest in a good camcorder to preserve the wonderful talks.
On Sunday, the conference concluded
with Bob Lidel's speech on the "Politics of Prisons."
While I knew we had a major problem, I did not realize its extent
before his talk. While crime rates have not changed dramatically
since 1970, the U.S. prison population has risen from 300,000
to over 2 million. Of this population, 1.2 million are locked
up for non-violent offenses and the majority of drug offenses
are marijuana-related. The U.S. system accounts for one quarter
of the imprisoned population worldwide! A key factor in this
unprecedented rise in incarceration is the privatization of U.S.
prisons; after the prisons are built, there is political pressure
to fill them by criminalizing more people and mandating longer
sentences. The towns that welcome prisons for economic reasons
ultimately lose as well, since the institutions soak up public
utilities, scare off other investors, and the prison population
cannot spend money in the town. Much more was covered, including
the high incarceration rates of racial minority populations.
While there I also shared booklets explaining
the "democratic transhumanist" movement to people who
asked about it. James Hughes, PhD, a longtime DSA member and
founder of the YDS club at the University of Chicago, the Executive
Director of two transhumanist organizations and the recent author
of, Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond
to the Redesigned Human of the Future, is the one person
most responsible for my conversion to democratic socialism through
arguments in his online articles. Two weeks after the retreat
he did an interview with then-YDS National Organizer Lucas Shapiro
on his left-futurist program "Changesurfer Radio" (the
recording is available online, see http://www.changesurfer.com).
Many hands made light work of the castle
clean-up. After staying overnight at Lucas Shapiro's apartment,
I continued visiting friends and family on my way home.
While gas prices are making travel prohibitive,
it would be great if a group of Chicago YDS members could travel
to the retreat as a group next year, perhaps by train. Please
join the yahoo group "YDSChicago" (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/YDSChicago)
to strengthen our local network and make coordination and local
announcements possible such as the dates when YDS leaders
Lucas Shapiro and Maria Svart will be in town this October.
They'll Have No Karl Rove, Then
(with apologies to Lord Byron)
So they'll have no Karl Rove,
To paint the night more black.
Though the war's still going badly,
And the White House still needs
For the facts outwore the lies,
And the feds wised to his schemes,
And we all must pause to wonder
If anything's as it seems.
Though the news was made for spinning,
And the polls are looking poor,
Yet they'll have no Karl Rove,
To justify their war.
by Hugh Iglarsh
compiled by Bob Roman
For the past month, as an experiment,
Chicago DSA has been publishing an email edition of New Ground,
more or less weekly. Email newsletters are becoming increasingly
common, and the format for our experiment is pretty typical:
mostly teasers and links, very few articles. Unlike most organizational
email newsletters, most of the links in our publication do not
point to our own web site. With the entire World Wide Web available,
why should it?
Like the print edition, the email edition
does cover news about DSA, local and national. And likewise,
we do cover the politics of issues we're involved in. With many
email lists, blogs and email newsletters, those links or articles
tend to be affirmations, tending to confirm to the reader that
we are right and they are wrong. We've tried to
our material more informational. Finally, we've been doing something
we have not had the resources to do in print: include an ongoing
discussion of democratic socialism, both as an ideology and as
history. The web enables us to draw upon the work of others without
having to deal with "intellectual property" issues.
Nor do we have to worry about the constraints of space; the print
edition increases in increments of 4 pages and it gets expensive
For several years now, we've been posting
the contents of the print edition on our web site. The contents
of the email edition are also posted to our web site. Eventually
we may post to the web articles written especially for New
Ground that are too long for the print edition.
Here is what you can do to help. First,
if you are not yet on our email distribution list, add yourself
by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
with "add" in the subject line. Second, forward some
or all of the email newsletters to people and email lists that
you think would find the newsletter interesting or useful. "Viral
marketing" has always been a feature of human affairs, but
the internet offers expanded opportunities! Third, if you run
across articles that you think appropriate, please forward the
links to us. Links to articles about democratic socialism and
its history, particularly with respect to Chicago and Illinois,
would be especially welcome.
Contribute to Katrina Relief Through the
In response to the devastation caused
by Hurricane Katrina, the DSA Fund has established a special
fund to accept tax-deductible donations from DSA members and
friends. This fund will be used primarily to provide help to
community-based and other social change organizations in the
affected area recover from the storm and its aftermath. It will
bring palpable aid to those who continue to defend the interests
of poor and working people in the devastated states along the
Gulf Coast. We are currently attempting to assess whether the
DSA members residing in the affected area have unmet needs resulting
from the storm; this fund will also be used to provide humanitarian
aid to such individuals.
This fund will also provide a vehicle
for people who do not wish to give to established charities or
who want to be sure that the gift will reach grassroots organizers
and organizations in need of support, precisely those often ignored
by mainstream foundations and charities.
The DSA Fund has already designated
an initial beneficiary of this fund: ACORN
(the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) saw
its national headquarters in New Orleans destroyed. ACORN has
a long history of defending the interest of the poor and working
people of New Orleans. The group is attempting to re-establish
its headquarters in Baton Rouge so that it will be able to continue
to address the needs of the displaced population of the region.
Other organizations will be added to the list as they are identified
and approved by the Fund. A report on the distributions that
are made will be made available to donors and posted on the web
To contribute, go to http://www.dsausa.org/LatestNews/2005/Relief.html
or send a check or money order payable to DSA FUND, 198 Broadway,
Suite 700 New York, NY 10038. Indicate that it is for the Katrina
IUPSS Celebrates Social Security
Illinois United to Protect Social Security
celebrated the 70th anniversary of Social Security in mid-August
with events in Chicago, Joliet, Bloomington, and Champaign. The
events in Joliet and Champaign were particularly pointed, politically,
with birthday cakes and cards being delivered to Representatives
Weller and Johnson. In Bloomington and Chicago, there were educational
and celebratory dimensions as well.
Over a hundred people attended the Chicago
celebration. It was a noon hour event held at Roosevelt University
on Monday, August 15. Participants included William McNary (Co-Director,
Citizen Action/Illinois), Charles Middleton (President, Roosevelt
University), Professor Margaret Rung (Director, Center for New
Deal Studies), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Tim Leahy (Secretary
- Treasurer, Chicago Federation
of Labor), and Hal Gullett (President, Illinois Alliance
for Retired Americans). A very special guest was President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, as portrayed, convincingly, by actor and historian
Most of the speakers discussed Social
Security in the context of present day politics. And they made
an effective case for preserving Social Security and why they
felt Republican proposals were essentially attempts to destroy
Social Security. But Professor Rung's presentation was valuable
for placing Social Security in the context of the politics of
the 1930s. And RJ Lindsey portrayal of President Roosevelt relied
heavily upon excerpting Roosevelt's speeches about Social Security,
giving one a sense as to how the public and Congress were persuaded
to support it and how opposition to the program has not significantly
Illinois' Chance at Health Care Justice
The "Adequate Health Care Task
Force" mandated by the Health Care Justice Act (see New Ground 99, most recently)
is beginning to organize hearings in Congressional districts
around the state. At press time, the schedule for these hearings
had not been released, but the first hearing is tentatively planned
for somewhere in the 1st Congressional District on October 5.
The tentative plans aspired to three hearings a month. From the
testimony gathered and from studies commissioned by the Task
Force, a set of recommendations toward resolving the health care
crisis will be presented to the Illinois General Assembly.
Why is this important? The project is
a long shot. Unlike the originally proposed Health Care Justice
Bill, the product will be only a recommendation not legislation
the legislature is mandated to pass. The Task Force itself is
genuinely a bipartisan. And while the health care crisis is huge,
it looks rather different depending upon your position in the
economy. These hearings should be an education for the Task Force.
Your participation in these hearings,
even if only as part of the audience, can make a difference in
how the Task Force perceives the scale and nature of the problem
and in how the Illinois legislature receives their recommendations.
If the health care crisis has come home to you, whether it is
as a consumer or as a service provider, your testimony could
for Better Health Care's Health Care Justice Coalition is
indeed working to collect and coordinate testimony for the hearings.
They now have 27 different types of testimony from a wide range
of groups and individuals. If you are going to give testimony,
please let them know by contacting Megan Meagher at email@example.com
or 312.913.9449. As the hearing dates and venues become available,
they will be posted on the Illinois Department of Public Health
the Campaign for Better Health Care (http://www.cbhconline.org),
and the Chicago DSA (http://www.chicagodsa.org)
web sites. The Campaign for Better Health Care is planning phone
banks to encourage turn out, and Chicago DSA is planning targeted
Chicago, Evanston, and Gary: Give
Peace a Chance
As New Ground went to press,
the Chicago City Council passed a resolution demanding the removal
of our troops from Iraq. Passing by a Council vote of 29 to 9,
with 12 abstaining or not voting, the resolution urges "the
United States government to immediately commence an orderly and
rapid withdrawal" from Iraq. In addition to the death and
suffering of the war, the resolution stressed that "Chicago
residents' share of monies appropriated for the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan now exceeds $2.1 billion." Chicago is now
the largest U.S. city to take this stand. The only other major
U.S. city to pass a similar resolution is San Francisco. The
Evanston City Council voted against the war earlier in the week,
and Gary, Indiana, did so last month.
The passage of this resolution represents
as much an internal victory for the peace movement in Chicago
because it brought together pretty much all its various wings.
Getting them to agree on language is an accomplishment. But it's
worth being skeptical as to its value in actually ending the
war. On one hand, it increases the legitimacy of opposition to
this war, and that is a good thing indeed. But the war will deescalate
only to the degree that Republicans and Congressional incumbents
generally begin to see it as an electoral liability. Which is
to say, look for some high profile moves, genuine and otherwise,
toward "Iraqification" in ten or eleven months, provided
the civil war doesn't spiral out of control.
UMWA Community Organizing Position
Community organizing position available
in Terre Haute, Indiana, on an organizing campaign with the United
Mine Workers. Calls for a person with initiative and ability
to build support among religious leaders, community and union
leaders for coal miners and their right to form or choose a union.
If interested send a resume to Robert Gaydos, Deputy Director
of Organizing, United Mine Workers of America: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labor Solidarity: Korea
The Korean Federation of Service Workers'
Unions (KFSU) is calling for international support for their
struggle against an insidious form of union busting at the Hotel
Riviera in Daejeon City. In the past, such support has been vital
in getting governments and companies to obey the law and to accept
the rights of workers to form unions.
Union members at the Hotel Riviera have
been struggling since August last year against the owners' contrived
closure of the facility, which the union has proven was carried
out on fraudulent grounds in order to close the facility long
enough to break the union. Their struggle is now at a crucial
turning point. And your help is needed-right now.
The National Labour Relations Commission
has ruled in favor of the union's contention that the closure
was a fake designed to break the union. The owners should now
reinstate all dismissed union members with full back pay and
resume normal operations. But Korean law is full of loopholes.
Please write now to the President and
Labour Minister of Korea, demanding that they act to ensure the
decision of the National Labour Relations Commission is quickly
and effectively implemented. Go to: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=57
IUF Protests Colombian Trade Union Assassinations
The serial murder of Colombian trade
unionists continues with no letup. Luciano Enrique Romero Molina,
a former Nestlé employee and leader of the foodworkers'
union SINALTRAINAL, has become the latest victim of Colombia's
deadly anti-union violence and the judicial and political impunity
which nourish it. He was murdered sometime between the evening
of September 10 and the morning of September 11, when his dead
body was discovered in the city of Valledupar bearing multiple
knife wounds and signs of torture. The fact that Molina was living
under the protective measures program of the Human Rights Commission
of the Organization of American States shows that the Uribe government
continues to fail to implement the most basic measures needed
to stop the war against Colombian union members and officers.
The International Union of Food, Agricultural,
Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations
(IUF) has protested this latest assassination to the Colombian
government, demanding a full and open investigation of Molina's
murder, prosecution of the perpetrators and an end to the reigning
impunity. We urge you to send similar protests. To send a message
to the government of Colombia go to http://www.iuf.org/Colombia.
from the Editor
This is our 10th annual Labor Day issue
of New Ground. As Editor and as Treasurer of Chicago DSA,
thank you. Your assistance, however great or small, is crucial
to this project.
This year's participation is about average.
Considering that the summer is never a good time for fundraising,
I'm not unhappy with whatever we get. Considering that the appeal
to unions went out at a time when most its leadership were distracted
by the looming split within the movement and generally dismal
circumstances, I'm proud of what support we received. It's particularly
difficult to be writing even small checks (and on the scale of
political money, we're asking for small checks) when your
colleagues are being laid off. Considering the destruction of
the Gulf Coast, I'm touched by the support we've none-the-less
received from individuals around the country. Thank you!
It would probably be too much to give
Dubya some of the credit. But when he said he's taking "personal
responsibility" for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina
disaster, I'm sure most of you feel as I do: well whooptydoo!
Personal responsibility! What does that mean? Does it
mean he's going to commit ritual suicide? Does it mean he's going
to jail? Does it mean he's going to resign? Does it mean he's
going to donate his personal fortune to those families who watched
relations die while waiting for help?
Fat chance. Every indication at present
suggests that neither Dubya nor his cronies in Congress have
abandoned their agenda of cutting benefits (Medicare and Food
Stamps, most notably) and financing the war and reconstruction
through borrowing and taxes on everyone but the rich. Maybe they
think we won't notice. Or maybe they figure to get what they
can, while they can. Then use the technique of requiring a supermajority
for new or increased taxes to preserve their gains.
But Dubya's not the first American politician
to use the ploy of "personal responsibility" as another
way to say "shut up". Our nation has a problem here,
and it's bigger than any runty shrub. And I think that's one
reason why so many people have contributed this effort even in
the face of so much immediate human need. Events have a way of
educating people, of creating "teachable moments".
And if Katrina has done that, now is the time to make our voices