New Ground 118
May - June, 2008
- Oak Park Living Wage
- DSA Solidarity Economics Network
- Chicago DSA Network
- Diesel Pollution
- Emergency Coalition
- Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- May Day
118.1 - 05.31.2008
0. DSA News
Toward an Economic Justice Agenda
Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner
Save the Date
Victory at Burger King!
Congress Hotel on Strike for Equality
2. Democratic Socialism
Every Man a King: Reconnecting
Marx, Democracy and Humanism
3. Book Reviews
Against Capitalism: The European
Left on the March
4. Upcoming Events of Interest
118.2 - 06.09.2008
0. DSA News
Socialist International Committee
June Membership Convention
Congress Hotel on Strike for Equality
2. Democratic Socialism
New Ground on Socialism
3. Upcoming Events of Interest
118.3 - 06.19.2008
0. DSA News
June Membership Convention
Young Democratic Socialists of America Convention
Universal Health Care Hearings
Congress Hotel Demonstration
Globalization and Its Discontents
2. Democratic Socialism
Sex and Socialism
Not Just Us
by Tom Broderick
It's estimated that there are 27 million
slaves in the world today. There are more humans being trafficked
now, than at any time in history. The Coalition
of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has exposed several cases of slave
labor in the agricultural fields of Florida.
On April 16, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin
(D, IL), Bernie Sanders (I, VT), and Edward Kennedy (D, MA) were
key in convening Federal Hearings on the pay and working conditions
of Florida agricultural workers. Florida tomato growers, who
supply their product to fast food chains like Burger King, are
at the center of the Hearings.
The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange
is a trade group of Florida tomato growers. This group has been
a consistent roadblock to improving the working conditions of
the agricultural workers in Florida. At the Hearings, Reginald
L. Brown, the executive vice president of the FTGE reluctantly
agreed that the FTGE would cooperate if the Senate Committee
asked for a Government Accountability Office study of conditions
among tomato workers. He also said that he could not guarantee
that individual companies within the exchange would cooperate.
This is the same group that decided
to act as a monolith threatening the penny-per-pound agreement
already signed between the CIW and Taco Bell and between the
CIW and McDonald's. Burger King, the current target of the CIW,
is hiding behind the FTGE threats.
Surely slavery is the most unequal and
unacceptable management/labor relationship. While this kind of
slavery is not the norm in America, many workers and their dependents
are suffering. We have fashioned an economic system that is creating
great wealth for a tiny portion of our population. The middle-class
is losing ground and poverty is on the rise.
From 2001 to 2008: The net worth of
the wealthiest 1% grew from $186 to $816 billion; Productivity
of American workers increased 18%, while the median pre-tax household
income decreased from $49,158 to $48,201; And the number of Americans
living in poverty increased from 31.6 million to 36.5 million.
"No business which depends . .
. on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right
to continue in this country . . . By living wages I mean more
than a bare subsistence level I mean the wages of a decent
living," declared President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
"Free Market" and "Globalization"
ideologies are embraced by corporations as they locate and relocate
in search of lower costs and higher profits. Period. This is
certainly not what FDR had in mind. His approach to economics
created the largest and most stable middle class in American
history. But capitalism is about maximizing profit. Workers are
assets. Assets are exploited, depreciated and discarded. We are
consumers. Do you remember Bush's advice after the 9/11 attacks?
That economics could focus on the needs
and wants of human beings, as if life itself has importance,
is no extraterrestrial vision. Economics is a system crafted
to achieve a goal. Ours is a system that enriches those who don't
need, at the expense of those who don't have: plutocracy. Time
to change the goal. We need a world in which all people share
equally in the governing of the economic, political and cultural
institutions and relationships that shape their lives.
President Franklin Roosevelt is credited
with creating and promoting the idea that the peoples' Government
should and would fundamentally improve the lives of Americans.
His approach was a success, although not all benefited. Agricultural
workers and those who were not white were sacrificed. Still,
the idea of productive governmental intervention did precede
One example: the Panic of 1893 was an
economic depression of record proportion. It was a worldwide
financial crisis. Like today, much of our economy was propped
up by foreign countries European at that time. As foreign
speculators pulled their money out of the U.S., unemployment
among industrial workers in this country skyrocketed to as much
as 25%. This led to many intense labor conflicts, including the
infamous Pullman Strike in Illinois. Wages were cut, but workers
living in the company town and buying from the company store
saw no similar reduction in rents or prices. Workers united to
literally fight for the lives and futures of themselves, their
families and their comrades.
Jacob Coxey was an Ohio businessman.
In 1894, he organized an "Industrial Army" that marched
on Washington, DC to demand that the federal government create
jobs to put the unemployed to work. Jobs that would improve infrastructure
for example. This was decades before the New Deal. When the marchers
reached the Capitol in Washington, Coxey tried to read an "Address
of Protest" on the steps of our nation's Capitol. The "Industrial
Army" was routed and Coxey was arrested.
When Ross Perot ran for President of
the United States, he denounced the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). He warned of a "giant sucking sound"
as good paying jobs in America relocated overseas should NAFTA
be ratified. He was right. From 1993 to 2007, the U.S. lost 2.9
million manufacturing jobs.
NAFTA is a smokescreen. It is about
investment and gains and losses. Instead of "Free Trade,"
it is about "Free Theft." Laws have been enacted to
protect private investment at the expense of workers and the
environment. Both of the leading Democratic candidates for President
of the United States say they will reform NAFTA, if elected.
It doesn't need reform. It needs to be scrapped. We will never
get to Fair Trade from NAFTA.
Current U.S. unemployment is 7.7 million,
with another 12.5 million categorized as either "discouraged"
(they've given up), or "underemployed" (they are working
less than they need to). A more recent sucking sound would be
the Bush tax cuts to the top 1% of our population. This group,
that needed no financial help to live a life of dignity and respect,
benefited to the tune of $546 billion between 2001 and 2007.
Since our private sector is free to
operate as if the feudal system is an acceptable form of labor/management
relations, then our governments, local, regional and national,
must improve living conditions. Poverty should be considered
a war crime in this country. A living wage, as defined by FDR,
is a must.
To that end, local, state and federal
agencies should all enact enforceable Living Wage Ordinances.
These are ordinances to ensure that government employees, employees
of contractors performing work for the government and employees
of businesses that receive a significant financial subsidy from
the government including tax relief receive a living
Fiftieth Annual Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner
by Bob Roman
It was our 50th
annual Dinner . And while it is tempting to make a big deal
of the Five Oh, this was in truth a Dinner marking a time of
change. It is not clear how much of it is for the better or for
worse. "Universal Health Care Now!" was our demand.
There will be some kind of health care reform in the coming two
years, but it is not clear whether we will be nibbling around
the edges of the issue or whether we will have changes that our
country deserves and has long been denied. While the Dinner is
certainly a fundraising event, it's also always been an educational,
advocacy event, and this Dinner meant to say that not all the
democratic left is willing to just nibble around the edges.
Some change has been clearly for the
worse. This was the first Debs Thomas Harrington
Dinner without Carl Shier in attendance, at least, if not actively
involved in planning the event. Our Master of Ceremonies was
Katie Jordan from UNITE HERE and President of the Chicago Chapter
of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and one of Chicago's "usual
suspects." Jordan had worked with Shier in the Illinois
Labor Network Against Apartheid and had remained a friend, both
of Shier and of the Dinner. She commemorated Carl Shier with
both her own memories and the words of others. We were so fortunate
to have her as part of this year's program.
The labor movement is also in flux and
it is not clear whether for good or ill. The 91 years that span
the life of our first honoree, Les Orear, have encompassed such
history that it is tempting to dismiss the current crisis of
labor with "when has it not been in flux?" AFSCME's
Larry Spivack presented Orear with the 2008 Debs Thomas
Harrington Award, mentioning only some of the history that
Orear had been intimately involved in yet too modest to mention.
And indeed, Les Orear performed to Spivack's expectations, playing
Jimmy Higgins while he remembered some of the giants of the labor
movement that he had worked for and with. I was just there to
help, he protested; after all, from each according to his ability,
to each according to his needs.
But in truth, regardless of all the
other things Les Orear has contributed, even if he had done nothing
else, he would have deserved the award for founding the Illinois
Labor History Society. This institution is a model for other,
similar institutions around the country. It also happens to be
the custodian of the Haymarket Martyrs' monument that commemorates
the events around the Haymarket (police) Riot in the struggle
for the eight hour day. This bit of Chicago history is also commemorated
by the international (except the United States) celebration of
May 1st as Labor Day. Plus, with the passage of time, this was
our last opportunity to honor the memory of the legendary United
Packinghouse Workers of America. Thank you, Les.
When the Latino Union's Jessica Aranda
introduced our next honoree, Laurie Burgess, she spoke of how
Burgess saved her organization's butt after they had attempted
to help a day laborer collect his unpaid wages and were sued
by the deadbeat employer using a novel application of some obscure
commercial law. Laurie Burgess, on the other hand, spoke of her
epiphany regarding the limits of the law. She had been confronted
with a situation wherein some women assembly line workers were
being required to clean their bosses' homes, off the clock. "We'll
sue!" was not an option because these women were "undocumented."
This was a career-changing experience.
I had an opportunity to work a little
bit with Laurie Burgess in promoting this Dinner. She comes across
as an intensely focused person who asks good questions.
One of the good questions she asked of me was why do people get
this award? In her acceptance speech, she provided us with a
much better answer than I was able to provide her. The people
who receive this award are those who are outraged by injustice
and who do something about it. I might add they also bring
home the bacon. Considering the record Burgess has compiled in
defense of the union movement, the rights of workers against
discrimination and for fairness, the respect and good-will with
which she is regarded by labor, even though she is relatively
early on in her career, she meets our qualifications for the
2008 Debs Thomas Harrington Award.
Marcia Rothenberg introduced our hird
honoree, Dr. Mardge Cohen. We appreciate Rothenberg doing this
at pretty much the last minute, but the two are old friends from
when Marcia Rothenberg was a nurse at Cook County Hospital. She
spoke of how Dr. Cohen began an AIDS program at Cook County for
women and children back when AIDS was considered a "gay"
disease. In accepting the award, Dr. Cohen spoke mostly of her
career, her values, and the people she learned from. (There was
quite a list.)
It was this aspect of career and values
that we felt made Dr. Cohen a good honoree. In the early 1970s,
she had been active in another legendary organization, the Chicago
Women's Liberation Union. The mainstream narrative is that people
like Dr. Cohen, if they were fortunate enough to pursue a professional
career, did so at the expense of their values. They sold out,
became "yuppies." This did happen to some, but it is
not the only story. Dr. Cohen is an excellent example of a great
many people who found a way to combine the political values of
their youth with a professional career. A staunch supporter of
"single-payer" universal health insurance, she certainly
belongs with this Dinner, and it really too bad that she and
her husband have moved to Boston.
We also appreciate how good it was of
Dr. Cohen to substitute as our featured speaker, pretty much
at the last moment. She made an excellent and efficient presentation
on why a "single-payer" approach to universal health
insurance is really the most sensible, moral, and effective way
to go. I don't think it was especially fair of us to have asked
Dr. Cohen to do this, but she agreed, rose to the occasion and
did a great job.
So what happened to Rose
Ann DeMoro? When we decided
that the need for universal health care was to be the theme of
the 2008 Dinner, Rose Ann DeMoro was one of the first names that
came to mind. She did not come to mind because of her union position.
She is the Executive Director of the California Nurses Association
/ National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA). It is a small,
aggressive craft union with a radical reputation (it was a major
backer of the Labor Party) that had only recently joined the
AFL-CIO. It has only a small presence here in Chicago. Rather,
it was DeMoro's reputation as a fiery and effective advocate
for universal health care that brought her to mind.
After we asked DeMoro, and she accepted,
we discovered that there was a small but passionate I - hate
- CNA fan club in Chicago. Their grievance was about how CNA
had taken over, at Cook County Hospital, what had been an Illinois
Nurses Association shop. This was worrisome but we figured on
balance she would still make a terrific speaker; we hadn't invited
her for her union credentials but for her politics on health
Unfortunately, it was only a few months
later that the feud that had been simmering between the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU) and CNA out in California
erupted into something akin to open warfare nation-wide.
SEIU had for several years been trying
to organize a number of hospitals in Ohio owned by Catholic Healthcare
Partners (CHP). By some accounts, the campaign had bogged down
on the shop level, but SEIU had continued talking with management.
At last, CHP agreed to an NLRB representation election and CHP
(not SEIU) requested an election giving their employees a choice
of either SEIU or no union. Learning of this, CNA mounted a campaign
(leafleting, direct mail, and apparently some personal visits)
to have the employees vote "no union" on the grounds
that SEIU was cutting a sweetheart deal with management behind
the employees' backs. CHP withdrew its request for an election.
The feces hit the fan.
We started hearing rumors from contacts
outside of Chicago of fulminations at SEIU's national office
about DeMoro's appearance at the Dinner. Then we received an
email from Tom Balanoff, President of the SEIU Illinois Council,
which judged that "Rose Ann DeMoro does not embody the values
of DSA." The letter briefly explains why and is posted at
though we can send you hard copy upon request. The point of the
letter, though, was that we were being asked to rescind our invitation
to Rose Ann DeMoro. "We don't want to picket your event,
but we can not allow Rose Ann DeMoro to speak in Chicago without
educating the public of her anti-worker agenda."
And it would have been an educational
surprise indeed because at that point most people (even in SEIU,
I would guess) hadn't heard of this.
Our first concern was for
our honorees. This was partly
because even while the event was our responsibility, this Dinner
was largely their Dinner. And partly because we figured
that SEIU's next logical step would be to start contacting the
current (and past) honorees anyway. So we felt the honorees should
be consulted as to what we should do, and at that point it seemed
that our main options were to continue but be picketed or to
cancel the event; we were not going to uninvite DeMoro. But before
we did anything, we also wanted to get CNA's side of the story.
We forwarded Balanoff's letter to CNA.
CNA replied promptly with a long letter
that partly attacked SEIU's politics on health care but also
provided their take on what happened in Ohio and why SEIU was
in the wrong. CNA's letter is posted at http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2008
/cna.pdf, though we can send you hard copy upon request.
The letter also stated that DeMoro was withdrawing from the Dinner
One suggestion offered in CNA's letter
that both Tom Broderick and I like is the idea of a debate on
national health policy between someone from SEIU and someone
"The Purple Punch-Out" That weekend, April 11 - 13, DeMoro had also
been scheduled to speak at the Labor Notes conference
in Dearborn, Michigan. SEIU not only had a picket line at the
final event of the conference, a banquet, but they also attempted
to disrupt it by invading the hall. This happened despite DeMoro
having withdrawn from being the featured speaker at that event,
substituting a video presentation instead. One person on the
Labor Notes side fell, resulting in a head gash that required
stitches. One person on the SEIU side apparently died of a heart
attack. It is true that organized labor has had much much worse
moments, but this moment was not among the good ones.
The Labor Notes conferences have,
over the years, played an important role in the labor movement,
primarily by providing a space where conversations among union
dissidents and sometimes between dissidents and "the establishment"
can take place. Even if it doesn't translate into much organizational
benefit for Solidarity (the organization ultimately behind it
all), as an institution in itself the conference is an important
labor event. Consequently there has been an explosion of commentary
and condemnation on the web. One also gets the impression that
many lefties have been getting tired of Andy Stern's aspiration
to be the 21st Century's John L. Lewis and this just lit the
match. For a selection of some of the better commentary, see
New Ground 117.4 at http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng117.html#anchor217234
Chicago DSA's Dinner, held on April
25, has evoked far less comment apart from some scrupulously
worded crowing in an SEIU press release. There was no picket
line or invasion of the hall. There was a table of CNA nurses
but no one assaulted them with words or food. Indeed, one party
of three included a member of SEIU and a member of CNA. It just
goes to show you: Americans may not be so interested in politics
but they do follow sports.
The date of our annual June Membership
Convention will be held Saturday, June 21 at 2 PM. This is worth
a "heads-up". In addition to setting priorities and
adopting a budget, three positions on the Executive Committee
will be up for election to a two year term. These are:
- Female Co-Chair
- Political Education Officer
The Female Co-Chair position has been vacant
for some years now. At present noone has announced as candidates
for any of the positions, so the field is open for you to run.
The CDSA office is in Room 403 at 1608 N. Milwaukee in Chicago.
Call 773.384.0327 for information.
compiled by Bob Roman
Oak Park Living Wage
Greater Oak Park DSA succeeded in having
an advisory referendum regarding a Living Wage Ordinance placed
on the November General Election ballot for Oak Park Township.
Last year's Oak Park Village elections were not exactly kind
to the left, nailing Oak Park's politics firmly on the center
- right, but there some verbal support for the concept still
remains. It is hoped that a yes vote will grease the wheels on
this issue. GOP DSA has already begun working on a strategy for
the question's affirmation. Two other advisory referendum questions
will also be on the ballot. We'll have more about this in the
next issue. For now, contact Tom Broderick at 708.386.6007 for
DSA Solidarity Economics Network
"Only a crisis actual or perceived
produces real change," wrote the late Milton Friedman, "When
that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the
ideas that are lying around." One of the main tasks of the
DSA should be to develop those ideas, ready for whatever opportunities
history presents. When the crunch comes, we want socialism to
be "lying around."
What should set DSA apart from the rest
of the progressive community is the awareness that the progressive
project must end in a systematic attempt to create a democratic
economy. Our practical politics currently focused on the Economic
Justice Agenda is essentially social democratic. That's crucial
work, of course, but it's not "socialism." For that,
we need a proposal, however general, for a democratic alternative.
And accordingly the last Convention adopted working on "Solidarity
Economics" as one of the organization's main priorities.
Several of us have been talking about how to get such an effort
We are not operating in a vacuum. There
is a long-standing cooperative movement, both here and abroad;
the "recovered enterprises" movement of South America
is doing exciting work. Here at home, the U.S. Social Forum set
up a "Solidarity Economy Network" (
http://www.populareconomics.org/ussen/node/14). There is
also an international network (http://www.ripess.net/en/default.htm
What do we add? Hopefully, we can help
integrate Solidarity Economics into a larger political program.
Political "neutrality" is a long tradition in the cooperative
movement (It is, or was, one of the Rochdale Principles.) which
prefers to focus on building up functioning market-based businesses.
Political power will be needed, however, if only to keep the
legal regime favorable for cooperative development. And a program
of co-op conversion will present a number of critical questions.
If we move to a worker-ownership model, for example, will the
labor movement have to be "re-imagined"? Is there a
way that alternative economic forms could be put in charge of
retrofitting industry to make it environmentally sustainable?
DSA should be spearheading the discussion of such issues.
The preliminary group proposes to begin
with self-education and discussion, to prepare for a serious
attempt to develop a practical alternative. As a start (none
of this is set in stone) we propose reading After Capitalism
by David Schweickart, to be followed by other books and articles.
A Yahoo Groups discussion list has been set up to let us discuss
the readings and anything else people want to take up (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dsasolecon
). Hopefully, this will develop into a serious discussion of
how to make the transition to a fully socialist economy.
It's time we talked about these things.
Please visit the discussion list front page and join us.
Chicago DSA Network
Chicago DSA has a discussion list for
Chicago DSA members only. Since most Chicago members are not
signed up, it's worth reminding members that they can sign
up by going to http://nine.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/chicagodsa
The Chicago DSA office sits a mere four
floors above Chicago's incredibly busy North Avenue. The traffic
is a motley mix of cars, buses, and many many trucks. We have
air conditioning, not so much for the heat, but noise level with
windows open makes conversation difficult and the dirt, including
diesel residue Let's just say that when we were invited to sign
on to Citizen Action/Illinois' latest project, the "Campaign
to Clean Up Diesel Pollution," we were entirely sympathetic
and voted to endorse the campaign.
Our only misgiving, really, was that
Illinois is in such miserable financial condition and our politicians
are so craven in dealing with it that even the modest objectives
of the campaign seem slightly utopian. You be the judge. The
project has five goals:
1. Clean up diesel school buses across
the state by increasing funding to the Illinois Clean School
Bus Program. In Illinois, there are more than 18,000 buses that
transport over 2 million school children to and from school every
day. However, most buses lack modern pollution controls.
2. Clean up railroad pollution by working
with Chicago area train companies to clean up their diesel switcher
locomotive engines. Locomotives are one of the largest contributors
of diesel pollution in Illinois putting communities and train
operators at risk.
3. Clean up the area's diesel transit
bus fleet by working with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
and PACE to clean up their fleets. While cities across the nation
are taking the lead in cleaning up their bus fleets, CTA and
Pace continue to lag far behind New York, Los Angeles, Boston,
and Dallas in cleaning up its diesel bus fleets.
4. Clean up diesel construction equipment
by requiring pollution strategies and technology are included
in bidding for public construction projects. Construction projects
contribute a large portion of total diesel pollution from this
region. The majority of public construction projects are located
nearby residential areas.
5. Promote creation of a state fund
to help companies and government agencies retrofit their diesel
vehicles and equipment.
For more information, contact Andrea
Rincon at 312.427.2307.
Last October, Chicago DSA signed on
to the Emergency Coalition to Save Cook County Health Services.
The immediate goal of the Coalition was to break the debate about
mismanagement as a bar to increased funding of Cook County health
services by temporarily taking control of management out of the
hands of the County Board and President. What finally emerged
was an ordinance that convened an independent nominating committee
that would present President Stroger with a set of nominees to
the temporary governing board from which he would select he would
The nominating committee presented President
Stroger with their nominees, and Stroger selected the following
individuals: Jorge Ramirez, of the Chicago Federation of Labor;
David Carvalho, Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of
Public Health; Heather O'Donnell, of the Center for Tax and Budget
Accountability; Norman Bobins, Chairman emeritus of LaSalle Bank;
Andrea Zopp, of Exelon Corp; Barbara Hillman, Attorney; Quin
Golden, ex-chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Public
Health; Benn Greenspan of the School of Public Health at the
University of Illinois-Chicago; and Daniel Cantrell, staff member
to U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL).
The Emergency Coalition issued a press
release professing pleasure at the selections. The County Board
will hold confirmation hearings for the nine nominees on May
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
At the end of April, some 200 farm workers
from the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers (CIW) and its allies came knocking on Burger King's
corporate door in Florida to deliver a petition signed by over
80,000 individuals. All fifty U.S. states were represented by
the signatories, as well as 43 countries around the world. The
petition demanded that Burger King participate in the penny per
pound piece work increase for tomato pickers already agreed to
by McDonalds and YUM Brands. GOPDSA contributed several pages
of signed petitions out of the many signatures gathered in the
At the same time, Burger King continues
to demonstrate a real talent for shooting itself in the foot.
A corporate Vice President, Stephen Grover, was revealed to have
been using his daughter's email addresses to post messages on
blogs and newspapers attacking CIW with allegations Grover had
every reason to know were untrue (e.g. "The CIW is
an attack organization lining the leaders pockets ... They make
up issues and collect money from dupes that believe their story.
To (sic) bad the people protesting don't have a clue regarding
the facts. A bunch of fools!"). Burger King said this was
"non-corporate sanctioned opinion" and that "the
strident tone does not reflect Burger King"
If that were not enough, Burger King
apparently hired an unlicensed Florida private investigator,
Cara Schaffer, to infiltrate the Student Farmworker Alliance.
Schaffer represented herself as a student at Broward Community
College with an interest in organizing campus support for CIW
and participated in two conference calls before being revealed.
Schafer is the proprietor of Diplomatic Tactical Services, but
Florida's Division of Licensing had denied her application for
a private investigator's license last year. According so some
accounts, Burger King has had an ongoing business relation with
Diplomatic Tactical Services for years.
Chicago DSA endorsed this year's May
Day March though in fact our involvement was very peripheral.
And at the march itself, we were represented by isolated individuals.
This year the theme of the march was
bravely titled "We Are the New Majority." The organizers
pulled together a list of concerns to the immigrant and union
movements to give the event substance. According to some reports,
this year much of the cost of the march was covered by Chicago's
The march itself was bookended by a
rally at the start in Union Park (Lake and Ashland) and a rally
at the Federal Plaza (Adams and Dearborn), with a contingency
plan to divert to Grant Park if turnout exceeded expectations.
Despite being absolutely lovely weather for a demonstration,
turnout was smaller than in previous years. The typical media
estimate was 15,000. That may have been conservative but not
by a lot.
There were a few small feeder marches
that arrived at Union Park prior to the March beginning. One
was led by the local Industrial Workers of the World.
A very few counter-demonstrators were
along the route of the march. One elderly fellow was jeering
incoherently from the sidewalk as I passed. Another elaborately
mustachioed and over-weight fellow inexplicably waded into the
line of march holding a sign demanding illegal immigrants go
home. He had the sign taken away and was treated unkindly. And
as the march proceeded through the financial district, some wiseacre
dumped a dozen or two sheets of paper from an upper story window.
In large print they said, "War Is The Answer."
I did not stay at the Federal Plaza
for the speeches. The Plaza and Dearborn (which was blocked off)
filled fairly quickly even while people were still arriving.
That sort of situation makes me a tad nervous so I left.