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New Ground 126

September - October, 2009


  • Another Step Forward by Tom Broderick
  • The 2009 DSA National Convention: The Crisis of Politics and the Economy by Frank Llewellyn
  • Reforming Resurrection Health Care or Why We Need the Employee Free Choice Act by Bill Barclay
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Chicago Sends Congress Hotel a Letter
    Ten Years on the Web
    Labor Day Issue
    Eugene V. Debs Foundation
    International League of Religious Socialists

    New Ground 126.1 - 10.01.2009

    0. DSA News

    Socialist International
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Chicago Union News
    Young Workers Present Challenges and Present Opportunities

    2. People

    William Adelman
    Crystal Lee Sutton

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Capitalism: A Love Story by Bob Roman

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 126.2 - 10.16.2009

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    DSA National Convention

    1. Politics

    Tell Congress: Jobs, Homes, Health Care
    Illinois' Fiscal Disaster
    by Bob Roman
    Hope for Housekeepers
    "Les Trois Mousquetaires": A Brief, Modern Translation
    by Hugh Iglarsh
    Health Insurance Disobedience

    2. Democratic Socialism

    "Capitalism: A Love Story": An Update

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 126.3 - 11.04.2009

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News: "Obamaa Is No Socialist"
    DSA National Convention
    Here Come the Pitchforks

    1. Politics

    Doing the Afghanistan Surge

    2. Democratic Socialism

    National Cooperative Month
    Happy Birthday Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    Another Step Forward

    by Tom Broderick

    This is the Labor Day issue of New Ground. Labor Day is very much a U.S. holiday. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland established it to divert attention from May Day International Workers Day. In the U.S., the holiday refers to labor work. In most of the world, the holiday is about the worker a human being.

    One simple way to celebrate the human worker is to ensure they earn a wage that provides for themselves and their families. Many communities across America have enacted living wage ordinances with that goal in mind. In Oak Park, Illinois, the Greater Oak Park chapter of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (GOPDSA) has been trying to do this for several years. We have been joined by the Unity Temple Social Mission Committee and the Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice. In fact, thanks to the work of the Unity Temple Social Mission Committee, this Unitarian Universalist Congregation voted to endorse the Living Wage Ordinance.

    In Oak Park, the only body that can enact a Living Wage Ordinance (LWO) is the Village Board of Trustees. After failing to get an earlier Board to take up the issue, the GOPDSA, with help from friends, got a referendum calling for a LWO on last November's ballot. It passed with a 60% "yes" vote, even though our economy was in shambles. Instead of taking up the issue, the Board tasked a citizen advisory commission, the Community Relations Commission (CRC), to study the impact of a LWO on the Village. The CRC has been working on this since February.

    The Commission ran into many of the same problems we encountered trying to gather data from Village Hall. At a meeting with the Village Manager, we asked for information on contractors and subcontractors as well as information on businesses and organizations that receive financial subsidies from the Village. Nearly nothing was provided. The CRC was able to get some figures that we couldn't. It may be that the Village can't provide information, or it may be that it won't.

    I worry that the Chair of the CRC will seize on this lack of information to push that the Commission make no recommendation to the Village Board. The last report on the LWO struggle in Oak Park published in New Ground 123 was titled "If You Can't Beat A Living Wage, Strangle It." This may well be the strategy that some on the CRC use to subvert the ordinance.

    Still, another step forward took place at Village Hall on Wednesday, August 19. The CRC held a public forum to gather information and hear from the community. In structuring the forum, the Commission wanted to have six speakers provide informative content. We suggested four possible speakers. All were accepted. These ended up being the only content speakers. In addition, there would be time for community members to briefly address the Commission.

    As the structure of the public forum was being discussed, the Chair of the CRC again exposed his bias. He declared that he wanted no part of the forum where community members would speak. Why? Because he would hear the same uninformed response to an emotional issue from the same public that voted for the referendum in the first place.

    A local newspaper, The Wednesday Journal, published my letter announcing this comment by the chair of the Community Relations Commission. The following week, the Journal published a response from the Chair: "In the heat of discussion, I say a lot of things I regret."

    With storm warnings literally on the radar, all four content speakers, more than thirty residents, and six of the seven commissioners made it to the forum.

    The four content providers who spoke: Gina Guillemette, Director, Policy and Advocacy at the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights (www.heartlandalliance.org ); Reverend C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of ARISE Chicago (www.arisechicago.org ), and the Harry F. Ward Social Justice pastor at Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park; Dr. William Barclay, economist and Adjunct Professor at the School of Business at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Dr. Ron Baiman, economist, who worked on the living wage ordinances for both Chicago and Cook County. Ron researched and put together the ordinance that we presented to the Village Board of Oak Park. Ron is also on the staff of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (www.ctbaonline.org ). Each brought their professional perspective to the forum.

    The Commission Chair has often voiced distrust of the $14.84/hour figure in the proposed ordinance, as well as the methodology used to arrive at the figure. Ron Baiman explained the methodology and defended the figure. He offered one update. When he initially arrived at the dollar figure for a family of four, he divided the number by two (two full-time working adults with two small children). Mr. Baiman felt that it was probably more reasonable to divide by 1.67 (one full and one part-time working adult). That resulted in an hourly figure topping $17.00. He also expressed support for more locally focused and currently updated studies of self-sufficiency as the Heartland Alliance's upcoming Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (FESS).

    Gina Guillemette also spoke of differing calculations to arrive at a living wage. The Heartland Alliance has a long history of studying and combating poverty and produces the FESS, the most recent of which comes out in September. Ms. Guillemette defined a living wage as an income that allows families to live without relying on public benefits or supports, such as food stamps, food pantries or subsidized housing. A living wage does not include luxuries like family vacations, accruing savings or investing for retirement. She agreed that the 1.67 computation suggested by Ron Baiman was appropriate. Ms. Guillemette also stated that it was important and most relevant to look at an area (West Suburban Cook County for example) when computing a living wage and not just isolate Oak Park, as the Chair of the CRC has often suggested. Oak Park is not an isolated community, but connected economically to the larger county region.

    Reverend C.J. Hawking proudly announced that the idea of a movement for a Living Wage began in the early 1990s in a Methodist church in Baltimore, MD. Rev. Hawking quickly got to the heart of the issue: "It is a moral imperative that all people who work should be fairly compensated so that they can sustain themselves and their families. To do less than this compromises the integrity of the employer and the society surrounding the employer." Interestingly, the commissioners had questions for the first two speakers, but none for Rev. Hawking. Facts and figures could be probed and disputed. The disgraceful reality of working poor could not.

    Closing out the content speakers was Bill Barclay. He focused on the myths surrounding living wage ordinances such as job loss and higher costs. Statistically, paying people living wages significantly cuts job turnover, which is a major cost to businesses. Training time goes down and productivity and morale go up. Also, pass-along costs have traditionally been low. The competitive bidding process that we hope the Village utilizes would still take place. Now, however, working people would benefit from the process, and Oak Park residents should receive more bang for the buck we lay out.

    The Commissioners of the CRC are Oak Park residents, who serve the community without pay. They are our neighbors and they allowed everyone the time needed to speak their hearts and minds. There were none of the "time" announcements that often occur at Village Board meetings when residents speak. This was a well run public forum, where all who wanted to speak did, without interference.

    Following the content speakers, Village residents were allowed to weigh in. I counted fourteen speakers. Grace Whiting, head of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce said their members needed information to better understand the issue. Even though this is available through the Village Board or the CRC, I emailed her a copy of the proposed ordinance.

    The owner of a local auto repair company complained about the high cost of his property taxes and extolled his generosity to one particular employee. He then took issue with being forced to pay a living wage to his workers if he receives financial assistance from the Village. In addition, Pris Mims, a member of the Oak Park League of Women Voters urged the commissioners to consider all sides before making a recommendation.

    The other residents provided a panoply of reasons to support this anti-poverty tool, including another local businessman who said that if paying out a little extra cash was the cost of a more just world, he was all for it.

    Let me spotlight three of our community speakers: Rich Pokorny is Chair of the Oak Park Coalition of Truth & Justice. Rich talked about being responsible for the bottom line at his business. He stated that paying a living wage not only improved morale and productivity, it also improved safety in the workplace. In a competitive environment, these are plusses to all balance sheets personal and corporate.

    Rich also pointed out the Oak Park faith communities he recognized at the forum: Unity Temple, Third Unitarian Church, Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, Ascension Church and the Oak Park Community of Friends. Although he may not have known it, the non-faith community was also well represented. Rich felt that the Oak Park faith community would line up solidly behind a LWO.

    Julie Samuels is well known in Oak Park. In the last gubernatorial race, she was the 2006 Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor of Illinois. Julie works at Openlands Project, where she is involved in helping communities plant neighborhood gardens. She spoke of driving home one evening and witnessing the results of the "great tree massacre." This was the brutal sawing off of tree limbs from beautiful, mature trees along the streets of Oak Park. The work done by a contractor destroyed valuable trees. She asked if trained workers who actually knew what they were doing might have been of greater benefit to the Village than the lowest priced service provider.

    Julie also addressed a comment by the Chair of the CRC. He stated that the responsibility of the Commission was to carry out the task that the Village Board had given it. Julie said that the CRC was responsible to the community and not the Board. Listening and responding to the community was the task that the Commissioners should involve themselves with.

    Her admonition reminded me of comments by various CRC commissioners at that first meeting in February. More than one suggested that since the voters had spoken, the CRC should look to craft a LWO that worked. Each time, the chair stopped the discussion to argue with them, eventually losing his temper and yelling that they were there to carry out the responsibility that the Board had charged them with.

    Finally, Bob Simpson talked about the progressive heritage of Oak Park. Bob is a comrade, active in the Oak Park / Austin Health Alliance. The heritage he spoke of is something that ties together so many of our neighbors and friends. There is pride in the historic drive to racially integrate the local housing stock.

    Oak Park abuts the primarily African American Austin neighborhood of Chicago. When redlining and white flight were common in neighborhoods where blacks and whites were cheek to jowl, residents of Oak Park creatively battled for housing justice.

    This community was also an early residential destination for gays and lesbians. Here too, the housing market was open to same sex families long before the real estate industry grasped the profit incentive. In addition, Oak Park is a draw for mixed race families. Ours is a community that has a tradition of promoting and living social justice.

    Bob pointed out that Oak Park may not lead the way in the issue of a living wage, but we can join the many communities who have recognized the confluence of class and justice. The passage of this Living Wage Ordinance may seem like a trifle, but its impact on even a few lives will be significant.

    The forum provided detailed clarity on the wrong of enabling poverty. A way forward has been endorsed by the voters of Oak Park. How the members of the Community Relations Commission respond is coming. If the Commission, citing the lack of information made available, opts out of making a recommendation, it will have taken the low road of avoidance.

    Facts and figures exist that point to what makes a living wage. The issue is whether or not our community should make sure that those who work for us directly or indirectly, as stated in the proposed ordinance make a wage that can support them and their families. We need the kind of comprehensive coverage that the referendum calls for. This is what the people of Oak Park endorsed, with 54 of 58 precincts voting "yes."

    The 2009 DSA National Convention:
    The Crisis of Politics and the Economy

    by Frank Llewellyn

    DSA's National Convention, this November 13-15 in Evanston, comes at a critical time. We will be meeting at a time of uncertainty about the direction of the economy as well the direction of progressive politics.

    Delegates will attend from around the country to chart DSA's course for the future in the face of a crisis in the economy that has produced a Great Recession and seems headed for a jobless "recovery" and very possibly further contraction of the economy. The major planks of the reform that was promised during the campaign remain unfulfilled. It seems likely that health care will not have passed by the time we meet in convention and the administration has already given up on the Employee Free Choice Act, although there is some hope that labor law reform of some type will pass eventually. The official unemployment rate, a significant under statement of the depth of the problem, may surpass 10% by the time of the convention.

    And over the last year we have witnessed a silly and surreal attempt to label the Obama administration as socialist. While all of us can have a good chuckle at the idea it has generated far more publicity than is deserved, although DSA has gotten much more media attention as a result. And because the Republicans can't seem to come up with a better attack it was repeated again over Obama's stay-in-school message to students which, the Republicans and right wingers called socialist propaganda we can expect this line of attack to be repeated again and again.

    Without question we will be addressing a crisis of politics and the economy that is deeper than any we have faced since the Great Depression. The convention will address a number of themes that this crisis throws up:

    • How do we restructure a post "recovery" economy so that it will address the many aftershocks foreclosure crisis, jobs crisis, and loss of pension income for near and not so near retirees of the economic crisis?
    • How do we build a stronger left that can challenge Democrats-in-office to implement serious reforms instead of halfway measures and take up (instead of ignore) issues like poverty, the urban crisis, peace and our civil liberties?
    • How do we build a stronger DSA that can engage in a serious public education campaign about what socialism really means?

    We hope many Chicago DSAers will want to participate in the convention. On Friday November 13th at 7PM in Mundelein Auditorium on the Loyola Campus we will hold a public meeting on the socialist response to the Crisis of Politics and the Economy.

    The rest of the Convention sessions will be at the Best Western University Plaza in Evanston. The night of Saturday the 14th there will be a convention dinner. The convention program will include many DSA luminaries including Honorary Chair Cornel West, DSA Vice Chair Elaine Bernard (Chair, Harvard University Trade Union Education Program) and Vice Chair Harold Meyerson (Washington Post columnist), and author and trade unionist Bill Fletcher.

    More detailed information about the program and costs will be mailed to DSA members directly, but please save the dates. Information will be posted on the National and Chicago DSA web Sites as it becomes available.


    Editor's Note: Frank Llewellyn is DSA's National Director. For the latest information about the convention, see http://www.dsausa.org/convention2009/convention.html

    Reforming Resurrection Health Care
    Or Why We Need the Employee Free Choice Act

    by Bill Barclay

    In 2004, Resurrection Health Care (RHC), the second largest hospital chain in Chicago, acquired Oak Park's West Suburban (West Sub) Hospital. Since this acquisition, and despite its identity as a Catholic company, RHC has behaved as any other for profit corporation. RHC has cut labor costs by increasing the patient:nurse ratio (despite numerous studies that demonstrate the crucial role of this ratio in patients' recovery time), switched accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations to the less stringent American Osteopathic Association's Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program and aggressively resisted efforts by employees to organize for union representation.

    The Oak Park/Austin Health Alliance, formed in 2005 by OPCTJ, SACC and AFSCME Council 31 has fought both the cost cutting measures and supported the efforts of RHC employees for a voice in their work. One of our successes has been the victory of the House Keeping staff at West Sub in their struggle against a supervisor that hired, fired and allocated jobs on a racially discriminatory basis. After community rallies, letters to the local newspapers, testimony before an Oak Park citizens commission and complaints filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, West Sub finally replaced the supervisor with one who has respected the housekeeping staff and assigned tasks and jobs in a non-discriminatory manner. Of course, there was no acknowledgement on the part of West Sub management that the actions of the employees and their community and union allies had any impact on this decision even thought West Sub had to settle the formal complaints filed with the state of Illinois. To admit such would be to admit that West Sub employees were able to take the first step in determining their own fate in the workplace.

    However, RHC's opposition to employee voice in governing of the work place continues unabated. Earlier this year nurses in Illinois circulated a petition asking the legislature to enact safe nurse:patient staffing ratios. Four West Sub nurses were among the more than more than 2000 who signed the petition ­ but these four were pictured on an AFSCME flyer describing the petition. Shortly after publication of the flyer ­ and within 24 hours of other - three of the four nurses received disciplinary sanctions. These ranged from elimination of a job to supervisor write ups. None of the four had ever been disciplined before, although their combined years of service totals more than 20. The substance of the disciplinary actions were thin but the message to others from West Sub management was clear: If you participate in efforts to give workers a voice, you will face reprisals from management. The goal is intimidation.

    Sometimes people ask what is the reason that unions are seeking to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), why is it needed? Although every workplace is different, the all too common element is lack of worker ability to influence the decisions that govern their working lives. The experience of West Sub employees, whether the housekeeping staff or the nurses, is simply one of the hundreds of day to day stories that illustrates the belief on the part of too many employers that employees have no rights in the work place, that agreeing to be an employee means surrendering the right to free speech and free association. EFCA would, at its most basic level, make it possible for workers to secure the rights in the work place that we take for granted in our public life. The ability of workers to organize into unions without fear of intimidation was FDR's goal when he signed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. We now have to fight to reassert that right.

    What's the next step at RHC? On September 25 through 26, there will be a vigil outside of RHC headquarters, asking the chain to recognize and abide by the recent agreement signed by Catholic health care facilities and unions. The core of that agreement is neutrality on the part of the employer during organizing efforts. You can read more about this agreement at reformresurrection.org . You can also sign up to join us at the vigil on the same web site.

    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman


    Chicago Sends Congress Hotel a Letter

    Amid all the other political activities on Labor Day in Chicago, UNITE HERE Local 1 called a special picket line outside the Congress Hotel in the morning. The purpose was to deliver an open letter, signed by some 200 community leaders, calling upon the Congress Hotel to resume negotiating in earnest so that the strike may end.

    A few hundred people turned out that morning, including several DSA members and a few more politicians: Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and Aldermen Bob Fioretti, Toni Preckwinkle, and Toni Foulkes. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. was also on the picket line, as were Kim Bobo (Interfaith Worker Justice), Reverend Calvin Morris (Community Renewal Society), Bob Guy (Illinois AFL-CIO), and I'm sure I'm missing a few that I shouldn't.

    Reverend Morris reported that the delegation that attempted to deliver the letter met with a woman of anonymous corporate status; management was, she claimed, on vacation. Where? She didn't know. After some discussion, she agreed to let management know the delegation had been there. It may have been one of the shorter vacations on record. As the press were packing away their cameras, a security guard came out to announce that those desiring to get a statement from the hotel could call the following area code 312 number (with extension). Apparently management was on vacation beneath a desk.

    The picket line did get a significant amount of coverage from local journalists, but it was reported almost exclusively in the context of the 2010 Democratic primary election. It's the easier story to tell as the audience is already familiar with it. But the proper context would have been the ongoing negotiations between Local 1 and Chicago's hospitality industry.

    In other developments, as New Ground was going to press, the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee passed, 16 to 3, Alderman Munoz' Right to Know Notification law. This would require hotels affected by a work stoppage to notify customers of the strike when a reservation is being made. The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association was there to whine about it (too broad, unfair, illegal, etc.), but it should be noted that, whatever else the Congress Hotel does, they do note the ongoing strike on their web page. This legislation isn't asking too much.


    Ten Years on the Web

    On August 23rd, Chicago DSA's web site had been online for 10 years. As the zero on the odometer came up, here's how things stood:


    Successful requests: 1,792,976
    Average successful requests per day: 490
    Successful requests for pages: 995,028
    Average successful requests for pages per day: 272
    Failed requests: 307,241
    Redirected requests: 13,966
    Distinct files requested: 1,306
    Distinct hosts served: 227,686
    Data transferred: 138.369 Gigabytes
    Average data transferred per day: 38.797 Megabytes


    If these numbers look impressive, they're not really. Or they are, really.

    They're not really impressive because a really "hot" web page (never mind an entire site) might rack up numbers like this in the space of a minute or two, never mind 10 years. The numbers also are pretty ambiguous as to what they actually mean. The reasons are numerous and tedious, but it comes down to this: For folks who are running the hardware, the information is useful, mostly.

    But for an editor or publisher, the numbers don't really say much. You can get a sense of which documents people are looking at. You can get a sense for the search queries that people use in coming to the web site. You can get a record of what other sites have linked to yours, and, relatively, how much traffic those links are generating. But for something resembling the demographics available to print publications, you need technologies not available to Chicago DSA, and even then what you get is at best an approximation.

    The numbers for the web site begin to resemble something impressive when you look at the requests for specific documents. We have, for example, Michael Harrington's booklet "Why We Need Socialism in America". It's been requested about 7,500 times since it was posted nearly 3 years ago. Or New Ground 45, up on the web for about 9 years, requested over 17,000 times. Or the audio recording of Max Shachtman and Norman Thomas, up on the web for about 4 years, requested over 6,000 times. What was the original press run of Harrington's booklet? How many people attended the Shachtman - Thomas forum? And New Ground? The press run has varied between 500 and 800 each issue. The numbers on the web are better than an order of magnitude greater than the originals, all at next to no cost.


    Labor Day Issue

    This is our 14th annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. It seems right to thank everyone who has contributed, including those shy folks who are not represented by ads in this issue. It has been a reasonably successful fundraising effort; we've raised about half of New Ground's annual budget. This is about what we were hoping to do. And we're still receiving checks. And it's likely that New Ground 127 will have a few late ads as well.

    This is good, for while our annual dinner is a great resource, it's not a good thing for it to be such a huge (and not especially predictable) part of our income. So your support for New Ground is appreciated and important.


    Eugene V. Debs Foundation

    The Eugene V. Debs Foundation maintains the Debs' family home in Terre Haute, Indiana, as a museum and shrine to labor. Like Chicago DSA, they depend on an annual awards dinner for most of their income. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, October 3, 6 PM at Indiana State University's Hulman Center in Terre Haute. This year they will be honoring Ron Gettelfinger, President of the United Auto Workers. The keynote speech will be given by Michael Sullivan, President of the Sheet Metal Workers and President of the Debs Foundation. Tickets are $35, and may be ordered from the Debs Foundation, PO Box 9454, Terre Haute, IN 47808. For questions concerning the Dinner, call Charles King at 812.237.3443 or cking6@indstate.edu . For about the Debs Foundation, go to http://www.eugenevdebs.com .

    If you attend, look for Chicago DSA's Michael Baker. Say hello.


    International League of Religious Socialists

    The International League of Religious Socialists will hold its 2009 Congress in Córdoba, Spain from October 9-11. The theme of the Congress is Global Crisis and Spirituality: Strengthening Alliances with Faith and Social Justice. DSA's Religion and Socialism Commission is a member of the ILRS. For more information, see http://www.ilrs.org/cordoba/

    New Ground #126.1



    0. DSA News

    Socialist International
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Chicago Union News
    Young Workers Present Challenges and Present Opportunities

    2. People

    William Adelman
    Crystal Lee Sutton

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Capitalism: A Love Story by Bob Roman

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Socialist International
    In advance of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the Socialist International held a number of meetings in New York. First up was a meeting of the Commission on the Global Fiscal Crisis where jobs and unemployment were a major topic. An account of the meeting is here:

    The Socialist International Presidium met on September 23rd at the United Nations (heads up, right-wing conspiracy nuts!) and an account is here:

    Human induced climate change and the fiscal crisis were the two main items on the agenda. The meeting passed a statement proposed by the fiscal crisis commission. While not particularly radical (unless one is a politician here in the U.S.), it is notable for being more substantive than is usual:

    DSA in the News
    The right-wing has discovered the DSA National Convention is coming to Evanston:
    For information from the horse's mouth, see



    Chicago Union News
    Those of you with a particular interest in the labor movement are probably already familiar with the international news aggregating and advocacy site, LabourStart. (If not, check it out at http://www.labourstart.org.) Now Chicago has a similar site, Chicago Union News: http://www.chicagounionnews.com. Unlike many such sites, Chicago Union News does not just aggregate information from other sources. They also do their own reporting. It promises to be a highly useful resource for those interested in the Chicago labor movement.

    Young Workers Face Challenges and Present Opportunities
    "Today young workers are less likely to have health care or economic security than they were 10 years ago, and one-third live in their parents' home, according to a new national survey released by the AFL-CIO." See:
    and for AFSCME's "Next Wave" program:



    William Adelman
    On September 15, historian, activist, and 1998 honoree of the Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner, Bill Adelman died, apparently of a heart attack. Adelman was such a genial and lucidly educational individual that one couldn't help but be profoundly dismayed. He was a long-time supporter of and activist in the Illinois Labor History Society, and Les Orear's comments are here:
    The Chicago Tribune's obituary is here:

    Crystal Lee Sutton
    Crystal Lee Sutton died on September 11 of cancer. Many of you will not remember her, but if you do remember the movie "Norma Rae", Ms. Sutton was real Norma Rae: the person whose insistence on her rights and dignity became an icon for the struggle to organize J.P. Stevens (see http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng107.html#anchor550028). For more information about her life, see Bruce Raynor's commentary at:
    and the Crystal Sutton Collection maintained by Alamance Community College:
    Chicago DSA's main connection with Ms. Sutton was her appearance at the 1980 Thomas-Debs Dinner. Her death generated a small wave of visitors to the site as Google Images ranks it fairly high among sources for photos of her. See:


    Democratic Socialism

    Capitalism: A Love Story
    by Bob Roman
    While Michael Moore's latest movie, Capitalism: A Love Story has opened in Los Angeles and New York, the preview came to Chicago on September 25. About 400 people came to see it; the theater was very nearly full.

    How was it? For a lefty: fun.

    Moore is vulnerable to attack from both the left and the right. For example, early in the film, he embeds an old "documentary" about the Roman Republic that says the republic fell due to the corrupt, unscrupulous self-interest of its leadership and indifference of its population, suggesting that the United States was in for the same. This is the sort of ahistorical parallelism that sent Marx ballistic when it was applied to the then current events of 19th Century France. That Moore goes on to praise the Fordism of his 1950s youth doesn't improve matters.

    But I think Moore does this for a number of reasons. First of all, it's aimed squarely at a populist constituency that could support the left or, just as easily, support a radical centrist perspective. And it's a story that's been around for a long time, certainly most of the 20th Century and maybe since the founding of the United States: "A republic, if you can keep it." Familiarity makes Moore's argument accessible. And then there is the old, somewhat deserved charge that the left is anti-American. What better way to say "not this time"?

    Not that it's totally effective. Consider Owen Gleiberman's commentary in Entertainment Weekly: http://movie-critics.ew.com/2009/09/26/michael-moores-influence/

    This nostalgia for a broken social compact is also a common perception in the labor movement, and it provides a high point from which Moore can launch a variety of humorous and outrageous critiques of capitalism.

    But most DSA members will like this movie, particularly as Moore's prescription for what ails us is, in his words, democracy. We're provided with two examples of worker run coops as examples of what Michael Moore is for.

    The closing credits are accompanied by "The Internationale". Communists, socialists, syndicalists all have slightly different versions of this anthem, and I wasn't able to distinguish which flavor this was. I suspect it was chosen because the interpretation was pure Las Vegas. The irony was lost on some reviewers.

    As to what the ultimate effect of the movie will be, who knows? I would speculate that it will open space for DSA, particularly for the Young Democratic Socialists, as people otherwise sympathetic to our politics will have a significant and fun affirmation of the label. Whether this will spread the meme, if you will, to others less sympathetic is another question. Moore was upbeat about the attendance at the New York and Los Angeles openings, and Variety seemed to think it was going well, too. But these were the early returns.

    On the other hand, it will indeed drive our enemies up the wall. For an example, see Kyle Smith's artfully venomous review in the New York Post:

    For another DSA review, see:

    Capitalism: A Love Story is opening at 10 theaters around the Chicago area on October 2. For more information, see:


    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Saturday, October 3, 1 PM
    Peace Protest
    Harold Washington Park, 1700 E. 53rd St, Chicago
    Oppose the occupation of Afghanistan. Bring all the troops home now. Organized by the Chicago Committee to Bring the Troops Home Now.

    Monday, October 5, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
    Release Party for "My Walk Around the Sun"
    Chicago Public Library Hall Branch, 4801 S. Michigan, Chicago
    "Journal of Ordinary Thought" celebrates its 79th issue. For information: http://www.jot.org/events.php

    Wednesday, October 7, 5 PM
    Get Back Into the Streets
    Chicago Water Tower, Michigan & Pearson, Chicago
    Chicago ANSWER's Afghanistan anti-war demonstration. For information see http://www.chicagoanswer.net

    Saturday, October 10, 1 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    Business, but all DSA members are welcome.

    Saturday, October 10, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
    'Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918.'
    Chicago Public Library Woodson Regional, 9525 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Jeffrey B. Perry discusses his book, "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press, 2008). A relatively obscure figure until now, Harrison was a Caribbean-born, Harlem-based writer, orator, activist, political, cultural and social critic and ardent race man. This book is the first of Perry's two-volume biography on Harrison. See http://www.chipublib.org/events/details/id/29637/

    Saturday, October 10, 5 PM to 9 PM
    24th Annual Mother Jones Dinner
    Univerisity of Illinois at Springfield Public Affairs Center Ground Floor, Springfield
    Tickets $25. Call Jack Dyer @ 217.691.4185 or Terry Reed @ 217.789.6495 for information

    Monday, October 12, 6:45 PM
    Privatizing the Airwaves
    Chicago Public Library Lincoln Park Branch, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Scott Sanders and Steve Macek discuss the massive giveaway of the electronic spectrum to powerful media conglomerates. An Open University of the Left event: http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org/

    Wednesday, October 14, 7 PM
    Dinner Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    Planning meeting for the 2010 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.

    New Ground #126.2



    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    DSA National Convention

    1. Politics

    Tell Congress: Jobs, Homes, Health Care
    Illinois' Fiscal Disaster
    by Bob Roman
    Hope for Housekeepers
    "Les Trois Mousquetaires": A Brief, Modern Translation
    by Hugh Iglarsh
    Health Insurance Disobedience

    2. Democratic Socialism

    "Capitalism: A Love Story": An Update

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    DSA in the News
    by Bob Roman
    Conservative columnist Steve Chapman quotes DSA National Director Frank Llewellyn in an attempt to pour cold water on overheated rightwing blogs:

    It would be tempting to dismiss this as an isolated attempt at sanity, but columnist Eric Zorn subsequently provided other examples (plus an attempt to put the phenomenon in historical perspective):

    It's purely speculation on my part, but I suspect some of the cannier players on the right are beginning to perceive a real possibility for violence among some of the more unstable individuals in their constituency. If any of these folks break loose beyond striking a defenseless clinic doctor or a church congregation or federal employee (as has happened already), it might be a disaster for all of us if most especially for the conservatives.

    Or I suppose it could simply be embarrassment.

    DSA National Convention
    The DSA National Convention will be in Evanston, November 13 through 15. For the latest information, see:



    Tell Congress: Jobs, Homes, Health Care
    "Tell Congress that the crisis is very real, that there is no such thing as a "jobless recovery" and that we need bold action to create jobs and make the economy work for everyone":

    Illinois' Fiscal Disaster
    by Bob Roman
    There has been buzz about California being North America's first "failed state", but the fact is that Illinois will not be too far behind unless something is done soon. New Ground has been beating our drum for tax reform for quite some time. Now more and more politicians are coming to realize that this is something they can't kick down the road so it might become someone else's problem. The problem is on their plate, now.

    A Responsible Budget Coalition has been formed, bringing together nearly 100 organizations with a dog in this fight, to support the latest incarnation of tax reform, HB 174. For more information about the coalition, see:

    For more information about the budget crisis, see:

    Hope for Housekeepers
    "Hope for Housekeepers is a national campaign of women, founded by Hyatt housekeepers across the nation to stop the abuse of women in the hotel industry.
    "Hyatt housekeepers often clean as many as 30 hotel rooms a day in just eight hours, and many forgo health insurance for their families because of the high cost. Even worse, Hyatt is slashing jobs, discarding women like the Hyatt 100 in Boston who were fired after training their replacements from an outsourcing agency.
    "Now Hyatt housekeepers are stepping forward to put an end to this abuse. Hyatt housekeepers are uniting with women from across the country, and together we are bringing a message of hope to the thousands of women working as housekeepers around the globe that things can change. Unionized housekeepers have fought for and won more humane workloads, cleaning around 15 rooms a day, to reduce the rate of injury and pain that can lead to permanent disability in this dangerous line of work. These housekeepers have affordable health insurance and job security that rewards women for their years of service."

    Sign the Hope for Housekeepers Pledge today:

    "Les Trois Mousquetaires": A Brief, Modern Translation
    by Hugh Iglarsh

    Dumas' Athos et Porthos et Aramis
    Cut quite a figure in la vieille Paris.
    While fencing with Richelieu's army of toughs,
    They wore feathers and garters and lacy white ruffs.
    Tous pour un, un pour tous, they braved shot and shell,
    Until each fell victim to "don't ask, don't tell."

    Health Insurance Disobedience
    Becoming more than a bit outraged by the way health care reform is being written to benefit the insurance industry, supporters of a universal public insurance plan have taken to acts of civil disobedience to make their point. In Chicago, this meant sitting in at the Cigna Insurance headquarters. We've had demonstrations there before. The security guards tend to be pretty territorial. For more information, see:


    Democratic Socialism

    "Capitalism: A Love Story": An Update
    How is Michael Moore's latest movie doing at the box office? It ranked #8 at its October 2nd opening, but the domestic gross as of October 13 is only $9.7 million. Heads up: in most theaters, you have but one more week to see it. Find out more here:


    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Saturday, October 17, 1 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee
    CDSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome.

    Thursday, October 22, Noon
    National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation: an annual demonstration. See http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/87774/index.php

    Thursday, October 22, 7 PM
    The War in Afghanistan: Seeking Clarity
    DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus, 1110 W. Belden Av McGowan South Room 108, Chicago
    Join author / activist Tom Hayden and Peter Manikas of the National Democratic Institute for a friendly debate on the ways forward in Afghanistan, and the circumstances and values behind them. For more information, see http://progressillinois.com/node/7317

    Saturday, October 24, 9:30 AM to 2:15 PM
    Single-Payer Leadership Training
    Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago
    Workshop focusing on issues and skills. $10 donation includes lunch. Capacity limited, email ilsinglepayer@gmail.com or call Jim Rhodes at 773.645.7070 to register or for additional information.

    Saturday, October 24, 1 PM to 6 PM
    "Rethink Afghanistan"
    Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston
    Showings of the documentary by Brave New Films, sponsored by Neighbors For Peace. (847) 424-1727. See http://rethinkafghanistan.com

    Saturday, October 24, 1 PM
    International Day of Climate Action: Rally and March
    Dvorak Park, 1111 W. Cermak, Chicago
    Rally then march to Fisk Coal Plant. For information see http://www.howgreenischicago.org/

    Tuesday, October 27, 11 AM to 1 PM
    Showdown in Chicago: Crashing the American Bankers Association
    The Sheridan Hotel, 301 E. North Water Street, Chicago
    Thousands will demand a People's Economic Recovery: Jobs, Housing and Health Care! No more foreclosures, no more plant closings, no more executive bonuses or lobbying ­not with OUR money! For more information, go to: http://www.chicagojwj.org/ and
    http://savetheamericandream.org/2009/10/01/the-showdown-in-chicago-people-over-profits/ and

    Tuesday, October 27, 6:30 PM
    Revolt on Goose Island
    The Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, Chicago
    Kari Lydersen and Tom Geoghegan discuss the takeover of Republic Windows & Doors and the future of the labor movement.

    Wednesday, October 28, 7 PM
    Debs Dinner Committee
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    Planning the 2010 annual dinner. All DSA members welcome.

    New Ground #126.3



    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News: "Obamaa Is No Socialist"
    DSA National Convention
    Here Come the Pitchforks

    1. Politics

    Doing the Afghanistan Surge

    2. Democratic Socialism

    National Cooperative Month
    Happy Birthday Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    DSA in the News:
    "Obama Is No Socialist"

    Over the past 12 months, the Democratic Socialists of America has received more media attention than it has over the past 12 years. The global economic crisis undoubtedly opened some people's eyes to the inequality and insecurity that capitalism generates and rendered them curious about an alternative. But when the DSA holds its convention in Evanston later this month and reports significant membership growth, thanks will be given to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and the GOP.


    DSA National Convention
    And speaking of the DSA National Convention, it's coming up sooner than later this month: November 12 through November 15. There are two public events scheduled:

    Free Public Forum

    The Politics of the Economic Crisis:
    Right Wing Populism or Left Wing Resurgence?


    Kim Bobo
    Executive Director and Founder, Interfaith Worker Justice
    Author, Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid-And What We Can Do About It

    Bill Fletcher Jr.
    former President of TransAfrica and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice;


    Harold Meyerson
    Washington Post columnist and DSA vice chair.

    Friday Nov.13, 2009 7:30 p.m

    Best Western University Plaza
    1501 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL.

    parking available
    CTA: Purple Line, Dempster St. Stop
    METRA: Davis St. Stop

    Please join the delegates to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) National Convention


    A Celebration of Socialist and Progressive Activism
    Saturday November 14th, 7:30 p.m.,
    Best Western University Plaza Hotel
    1501 Sherman Ave. Evanston, IL.

    Featured Speakers

    Dr. Elaine Bernard
    Director, Labor and Work Life Program,
    Harvard Law School
    DSA vice chair

    Joel Bleifuss
    Editor and Publisher
    In These Times

    all tickets must be reserved and paid for by November 11, 2009
    tickets $65, purchase discounted tickets on-line ($15 off with a Mastercard or Visa) CLICK HERE for our secure shopping cart!

    Telephone Orders: 212-727-8610 (not discounted)

    parking available
    CTA: Purple Line Demster St. stop
    METRA: Davis St. Stop

    Here Come the Pitchforks
    National Peoples Action, Jobs with Justice, SEIU and a host of others organized a demonstration outside the American Bankers Association annual meeting on Tuesday, October 27. The demonstration was attended by thousands from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The gist of the message was that the banks (and bankers) are and have been part of the problem in the current economic downturn. But that demonstration was only the visible tip of the proverbial iceberg. Various groups organized demonstrations, alternative receptions, picket lines where ever the bankers were scheduled to be.

    In Oak Park, the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice, Chicago Arise, Greater Oak Park DSA all got together to hold an informational picket when the bankers were scheduled to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright studio. For a brief video of the picket line, see:

    For some videos of the main event see:

    For a conservative take with video, see:

    Note that Andy Stern is referred to as a supporter of DSA. The link "documenting" the comment is to New Ground 117 that only mentions his name in the context of the merger of SEIU Locals 4, 20, and 880. That same article ("SEIU Healthcare") also mentions ACORN, a real flag waver for those obsessed with the "Hexagon of Power". A particularly suble touch for connoisseurs of rightwing delusional thinking is that the link is not directly to the Chicago DSA web site but to the Google cache of it; after all we might destroy the evidence.



    Doing the Afghanistan Surge
    While Obama is pondering our descent into the mire of endless war, a coalition of peace, political, etc., groups around the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism are organizing an emergency demonstration. This is to take place at 5 PM the day Obama makes a decision to send additional soldiers to Afghanistan. It will be held at the Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Adams in Chicago. There is to be a follow-up demonstration the Saturday following. Chicago DSA has signed on as an endorser. For more information, see:

    Those of you on Facebook are invited to:


    Democratic Socialism

    National Cooperative Month
    You'll pardon us if we belatedly note that October was National Cooperative Month. Here are some sites to visit for the occasion:

    and http://www.ncba.coop/pubs_cmonth.cfm

    And speaking of cooperatives:

    'The United Steelworkers (USW) and MONDRAGON Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing MONDRAGON cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada. The USW and MONDRAGON will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the MONDRAGON worker ownership model of "one worker, one vote."' More:


    Happy Birthday Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas
    Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist Party's favorite candidate for President in the early years of the 20th Century, was born on November 5, 1855. For a brief biographical sketch, see:


    Norman Thomas, another Socialist Party favorite for President, was born November 20, 1884. For a brief biographical sketch, see:


    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Thursday, November 5, 6:30 PM
    Staley: the Fight for a New American Labor Movement
    DePaul University Labor Education Program, 14 E. Jackson, Ste 1451, Chicago
    Authors Steven K. Ashby and C.J. Hawking will make a presentation followed by a discussion about today's labor movement.

    Saturday, November 7, Noon to 5 PM
    Bringing Justice to Campus Food Service
    DePaul University's Lincoln Park campus, Chicago
    A mini-conference for students, organized by UNITE HERE, about what it's like to work in the food service industry and how students can support workers' struggles for better job conditions. See http://stiritupcampaign.org/

    Saturday, November 7, 1 PM to 4 PM
    2009 Media Democracy Day
    Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
    For more information, see http://www.chicagoprogmedia.org/Media%20Democracy%20Day%20-%20Chicago%202009.htm

    Sunday, November 8, 10 AM
    Eugene V. Debs
    Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield Avenue, Chicago
    Dr. William Pelz will speak on Eugene V. Debs, in honor of the anniversary of his birthday on November 5. See http://www.thirdunitarianchurch.org/

    Monday, November 9, 7 PM
    Embedded with Organized Labor
    No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago
    Steve Early will sign and discuss his new book "Embedded with Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home". Co-sponsored byInterfaith Worker Justice, In These Times, etc.

    Thursday, November 12, 5:30 PM
    Cunningham Carey Awards Dinner
    The Wine Cellar at Maggiano's, 516 North Clark Street, Chicago
    The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty honors Rob Warden. $125. See http://www.icadp.org

    Thursday, November 12 through Sunday, November 15
    DSA National Convention
    Best Western University Plaza, 1501 Sherman Av, Evanston
    See http://www.dsausa.org/convention2009/convention.html

    Thursday, November 19, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    From Bonnets to Briefcases: a Journey of Chicago Women in Law
    IIT Chicago Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams, Chicago
    A panel discussion sponsored by the Working Women's History Project. Free but registration requested. See http://www.wwhpchicago.com/11192009event.html

    Saturday, November 21, 1 PM
    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    Chicago DSA, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403, Chicago
    A discussion of the recently concluded DSA National Convention. Possibly some business also. Info: 773.384.0327.

    Sunday, November 22, 5 PM to 8 PM
    An Evening with Sal Rosselli
    Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
    A fundraising party for the Fund for Union Democracy and Reform sponsored by Edward A. Sadlowski, Holly Krig, Ella Hereth, Ben Ward, and Samantha Winslow.

    Sunday, November 22, 5:30 PM
    Well Sung Heros
    Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago
    The Illinois Labor History Society's annual Union Hall of Honor awards dinner, this time a concert honoring CFM Local 10-208, James C. Petrillo, and Bucky Halker. For more information, call 312.663.4107

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