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#148
May -- June,
2013

Contents

  • Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner by Bob Roman
  • Report from the Jobs Lobby by Tom Broderick
  • May Day in Chicago by Bob Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • "Today's Other America"
    Membership Convention
    National Conventions
    Pritzger Protest
    April Jobs Report
    Chicago Workers' Collaborative Sues
    We Are Worth More

    New Ground 148.1 -- 05.31.2013

    0. DSA News

    Students Fighting Austerity
    Talkin' Socialism

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel Strike Ends

    2. Ars Politica

    "No"

    3. Democratic Socialism

    No Left Turn? by Bob Roman

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 148.2 -- 06.15.2013

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    New YDS Organizer
    Socialist International, Progressive Alliance, DSA and the European Left

    1. Politics

    It's the Taxes, Stupid

    2. Ars Politica

    Hothouse Rebooted

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers and Mondragon
    Socialist Unity, the Movie

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 148.3 -- 07.01.2013

    0. DSA News

    Defend and Expand Democracy
    DSA in the News
    YDS Summer Conference
    Democratic Left
    You Belong Here

    1. Politics

    May BLS Jobs Report
    Fortress Unionsim?
    By Thy Rivers Gently Glowing, Illinois, Illinois

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers, Mondragon, CUNY, and Union Coops
    Going Postal, North Dakota, and Other Financial Alternatives

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner

    by Bob Roman

    The 2013 Dinner was held on May 3 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza's Wolf Point ballroom, a swanky but union venue at a reasonable downtown price. This was the 55th annual dinner, and it was not a large affair by historical standards. But we had a good turnout, better than last year and younger, and it was fun.

    Humor played a distinctive role this year. Bill Barclay was straightforward in his presentation of the award to the Chicago Teachers Union. And Jesse Sharkey provided a realistic assessment of the balance of power and the tasks ahead for the Chicago Teachers Union. But Peg Strobel included in her introduction of Keith Kelleher a much belated (from 2007) greeting from Barack Obama. It was revealed that Kelleher's first date with his wife was to a speech by Michael Harrington at Wayne State University. Ron Baiman conspired with friends like Heather Booth to conduct a small William McNary roast. McNary emerged largely unsinged to warmly defend the Affordable Care Act as game changing legislation (not everyone in the audience would agree) and went on to provide a fascinating compare and contrast between Bill Gates and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.

    Amy Dean brought her own humor to the table. For example, when describing the reaction of some labor leaders to changes in the economy toward the end of the 20th Century, she told the story of a farmer holding up a pig so the pig could eat apples off the tree. Wouldn't letting the pig eat apples off the ground be quicker? Well, may be, but what's time to a pig?

    But Dean's speech requires either a transcript or a recording. In lieu of those, some of the content was from recent articles. See, for example, the list of publications at www.tcf.org/experts/detail/amy-dean . For more photos, go to chicagodsa.org/d2013 or to Chicago DSA's Facebook page.

    A sincere gramercy to Rev. C.J. Hawking, who endured weather and traffic all the way from DC to be our Master of Ceremonies that evening.


    Report from the Jobs Lobby

    by Tom Broderick

    Between the high road to prosperity for all and the low path to continued suffering thanks to austerity, the choice is stark. Getting people back to work or to work for the first time is critical and it will take the federal government to act. It will take revenue raising and will power to turn things around for the majority of those living in America.

    The financial institutions are doing nothing to help out main street. The bailout they received for crashing our economy has either paid handsome bonuses to those in charge of the financial industry or has been hoarded and is sitting pretty under the "assets" column of the various recipients. The power and influence they held back at the beginning of the Great Recession crisis has only grown. What ever happened to breaking up the financial industry into segments that both serve the people and prevent this kind of global disaster?

    Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) re-introduced his "Inclusive Prosperity Act" (HR-1579) last month. This Bill seeks to "impose a tax on certain trading transactions to strengthen our financial security, reduce market volatility, expand opportunity, and stop shrinking the middle class."

    This tax, "for the people, not on the people" is a financial transaction tax that the high flying professional traders would pay on each transaction. It is set at a very low rate, yet it would raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually, up to $350 billion per year according to some economists.

    In a letter to his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Ellison states that these "funds could be used to expand opportunity and financial security for low and moderate income families, rebuild our crumbling physical infrastructure, and create good paying jobs."

    Last year, members of Chicago DSA (CDSA), Northeastern Illinois Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and Progressive Democrats of America, Chicago (PDA) began a petition drive to enact a similar tax in Illinois although we referred to it as a "speculation sales tax." At the same time, National Nurses United (NNU), a nurses union, was beginning to work on the "Robin Hood Tax," on the national level. It makes far more sense to do this nationally, so those of us working on the tax for Illinois have joined forces with NNU.

    In Illinois, we plan to promote Ellison's "Inclusive Prosperity Act" (aka Robin Hood Tax) as a small tax on financial speculators providing big benefits to main street America. This Bill will raise revenue from the industry that broke our economy to provide economic justice to the majority of Americans.

    When a deep water oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, workers were killed, economic crisis ensued and there was tremendous environmental damage done. Recovery is still not complete. There is an effort to make those responsible for the damage pay for the destruction they caused. I'm sure you're familiar with signs in some shops that say "You Broke It, You Bought It!" Well, the "too big to fail" financial folk broke it and we bought it for them. That's not how it should work.

    Yet as I write this, not one of the Illinois members of the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has signed on as a co-sponsor of Ellison's HR-1579. The three Illinois CPC members are Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Danny Davis and Rep. Luis Gutierrez.

    Last session, Rep. Davis was a co-sponsor of Ellison's Inclusive Prosperity Act. On the day before Rep. Ellison re-introduced the Bill for this session, three of us met with a staff member of Rep. Davis in his office on the west side of Chicago. We wanted to get Rep. Davis to sign on as an original co-sponsor. This was not to be.

    At the end of April, members of NNU, CDSA, ADA and PDA, all constituents of Rep. Davis, met with him to discuss the issue. We reminded him that he co-sponsored the Bill in the previous Congressional session. He answered that he wasn't planning to be a co-sponsor now because he doesn't want to appear anti-business. Chicago's financial center is in Rep. Davis' district.

    Many businesses got nothing out of the financial bailout and still suffer from the Great Recession. Without getting people back to work and getting money into the hands of working people, businesses and workers and their families will continue to pay for the bailout and greed of the financial industry.

    We spent a long and nearly fruitless 45 minute meeting providing various reasons to co-sponsor the Bill, but the best we could get in response was that Rep. Davis would get together with his staff and have further discussion.

    Will this discussion happen? Will it lead to Rep. Davis adding his name as a co-sponsor to Rep. Keith Ellison's Inclusive Prosperity Act? Rep. Ellison is Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The CPC issued an outstanding U.S. Budget proposal dubbed the "Back to Work" budget. This budget includes a financial transaction tax.

    Whoever your U.S. Representative is, I urge you to call them, even at their local office and urge them to co-sponsor HR 1579, Rep. Keith Ellison's Inclusive Prosperity Act. For those of you who are constituents of CPC members Rep. Schakowsky, Rep. Davis or Rep. Gutierrez, local telephone numbers follow:

    • Rep. Jan Schakowsky: 847 328 3409 or 773 506 7100.
    • Rep. Danny Davis: 773 533 7520.
    • Rep. Luis Gutierrez: 773 342 0774 or 708 652 5180.


     

    May Day in Chicago

    by Bob Roman

    The annual May Day marches and rallies in Chicago brought together almost 10,000 participants, though there were considerably fewer present at any one time. The big event was the immigrants' rights march that drew from a smaller Occupy Chicago rally in Union Park, a very small anarchist march from the near north side, and the Illinois Labor History Society's annual rally at the Free Speech monument in the Hay Market (DesPlaines & Randolph).

     

    All this was larger than some recent years, very much smaller than others (2006). But compared to marches in the early 2000s which drew 100s, it was a healthy demonstration. The secret sauce has been the immigrant rights movement plus labor. The left is a garnish yet it would have been bland without us.

    For more about the martyrs' monument in Forest Park, see this item in the Forest Park Review.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    "Today's Other America"

    The last Sunday of the month is when the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice shows a pertinent film of interest at the Oak Park Public Library. In April, this was Bill Donovan's 1999 documentary, Michael Harrington and Today's Other America. The showing was co-sponsored by the Greater Oak Park DSA . Some four dozen people attended, nearly a SRO audience for that venue, and most remained for the discussion afterwards. Chicago DSA treasurer Peg Strobel introduced the video. Greater Oak Park co-chair Bill Barclay and Michele Zurakowski, the executive director of a local food pantry, made brief presentations afterwards to begin the discussion.

    Part of the turnout may have been the result of an op-ed on poverty, promoting the documentary, by Tom Broderick and Peg Strobel and published in the preceding Wednesday Journal.

    Michael Harrington and Today's Other America was the last film. The Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice documentary series is recessed for the summer and will resume in September.

    "Talkin' Socialism"

    Episode 27 of Chicago DSA's monthly podcast should be posted on our web site by the time you read this. This latest episode features Bob Breving and Emily Rosenberg discussing labor education. In particular, they talk about the DePaul Labor Education Program that has some unique and some nearly unique features, including a program for high schools.

    The previous episode was "Organizing Amid the Wreckage of the Wagner Act", featuring Leah Fried of the United Electrical Workers and Stephen Yokich of Cornfield and Feldman. They discuss so-called "right-to-work" laws: the consequences for organizing and maintaining unions, how the spread of these laws is a part of a broader attack on unions, and how U.S. labor law compare with other countries. The program includes excerpts from the question and answer session afterwards.

    All "Talkin' Socialism" episodes are available at www.chicagodsa.org/audarch6.html . You can also subscribe to the series through iTunes, for free.

    The programs are recorded prior to our monthly meeting. All DSA members are welcome to sit in. Check chicagodsa.org for details or call 773.384.0327.

    Membership Convention

    Chicago DSA's annual membership convention will be on Saturday, June 8, 11:30 AM at the Chicago DSA office. The meeting begins with the recording of the latest episode of Talkin' Socialism. We're planning on having two members of UNITE HERE Local 1 who will make a presentation on the Hyatt campaign, including the effort to elect a worker representative to Hyatt's board of directors.

    Business begins at 12:30 PM. We will be electing officers, co-chairs and a secretary, adopting a budget, and dealing with other business. Ron Baiman will not be running for re-election as male co-chair. For more information, call 773.384.0327.

    National Conventions

    The DSA National Convention will be held October 25 through 27 this year, rather than in November, and it will be hosted by the California East Bay chapter. It's too early to know how many delegates Chicago DSA will be apportioned, but we may be electing them in August rather than September. It's not too early to be thinking of becoming a delegate. If you would really like to go but have doubts about finances, the CDSA June membership convention would be a good time to bring up the issue of delegate subsidies.

    The Young Democratic Socialists' summer retreat will be held in Washington, DC, on August 8 through August 11. For more information, go to www.ydsusa.org.

    Pritzger Protest

    UNITE HERE Local 1 organized a very large protest outside the National Restaurant Association's meeting at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place on Monday, May 20. The main issue, the only one mentioned in most news reports, was a protest against Penny Pritzker's nomination as Commerce Secretary. The union has a bone to pick with Pritzker, as her Hyatt hotel chain has been unwilling to meet the union's terms for a contract, and it has been aggressive in outsourcing work to temp employees. There is, in fact, a declared boycott of the hotel chain. That was the other reason for having a protest. In having their meeting (a large to-do) at the Hyatt, the National Restaurant Association left itself open to protest, and it doesn't hurt that the industry has a notoriously poor labor record.

    The picket line of several hundred was overwhelmingly UNITE HERE, but GOPDSA's Tom Broderick organized a contingent of a couple dozen to join the line. Most were not DSA members, though there were several DSA t-shirts, caps, and buttons on display.

    Senator Sanders has promised to raise labor issues during the confirmation process. You can sign a petition to oppose her confirmation HERE.

    April Jobs Report

    In response to the April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago Political Economy Group wrote:

    On April 24th two groups of young people met up on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, and it wasn't for the shopping. One group was striking retail and fast food workers who had walked off the job to protest low wages and demand a $15 minimum wage for downtown workers. The other group was students protesting Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's school closings. Many of the striking workers were only a few years older than the students. Inequitable education policies like those of the Chicago Public Schools fall most heavily on low-income communities. The experience of dictates from above disrupting neighborhoods-closing schools, firing school staff, reducing education to performance on high stakes testing­with no voice from those affected doesn't produce schools encourage low-income students to assert themselves and demand a better life for themselves and their families. Last Wednesday the youth of Chicago taught us what we should already know, the economy is not working for most people in the U.S.

    MORE.

    Chicago Workers' Collaborative Sues

    This week, Chicago Workers' Collaborative members filed a class action law suit against a national temporary staffing company, Staffing Network, alleging that Staffing Network used van drivers known as "Raiteros" to illegally charge workers for transportation and check cashing in addition to stealing workers' wages and then retaliating against workers for standing up for their rights. Our members' action comes in the wake of a series of investigative reports entitled Taken for a Ride, issued by ProPublica and Marketplace. The reports exposed how major corporations use staffing agencies and the agencies' extensive system of Raiteros to illegally recruit, deploy and steal the wages of workers residing in La Villita (Little Village), the largest Latino community in the midwest. Chicago Workers' Collaborative staff and worker members spent several weeks with the ProPubica reporter, Michael Grabell, and Marketplace reporter, Jeff Tyler, organizing dozens of interviews with temp staffing workers exploited by name-brand companies that make Beanie Babies, Walmart pizzas, Smirnoff and other name-brand products.  

    MORE.

    We Are Worth More

    At Talking Union, Jack Metzgar writes:

    Last month a few hundred retail and fast-food workers, from places like Sears, Dunkin' Donuts, and McDonald's, walked off their jobs for a rally in downtown Chicago. Carrying signs saying "Fight for 15" (or "Lucha Por 15") and "We Are Worth More," these workers make $9 or $10 an hour, at best, and they figure they're worth at least $15.

    A one-shift walk-out and protest by a few hundred out of the thousands of such workers in the Chicago Loop and along Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile cannot have the economic impact of a traditional strike -- one that shuts down an entire workplace or industry for an extended period of time and, therefore, can bend an employer's will. And these workers' chances of getting $15 an hour any time soon are worse than slim. This "job action," bolstered by community supporters organized by Action Now and with help from Service Employees International Union organizers, is more in the nature of a public protest than a "real strike." You could even call it "a public relations stunt," but you'd be wrong to dismiss it as inconsequential.

    MORE.


    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.


    New Ground #148.1

    05.31.2013

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Students Fighting Austerity
    Talkin' Socialism

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel Strike Ends

    2. Ars Politica

    "No"

    3. Democratic Socialism

    No Left Turn? by Bob Roman

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Students Fighting Austerity
    The Young Democratic Socialists held their Winter conference in Brooklyn, NY, on February 15 through 17 this year. Jackie Sewell's account of the conference was printed in Democratic Left, but videos of selected portions of the event are now posted the web:

  • What Happened to Occupy? -- Francis Fox Piven, Joe Schwartz, Sarah Leonard, Maria Svart. CLICK HERE.
  • Labor Strikes Back -- Skip Roberts, Sarah Jaffe, Liza Featherstone, Maria Svart. CLICK HERE.
  • A New Age for Radical Justice -- Nadia Mohamed, Patricia Gonzalez-Ramierez, Greg Basta, Ian Lee. CLICK HERE.
  • Can't Go Green Without Going Red -- Christian Parenti, Matt Porter, Patricia Gonzalez-Ramirez, Greg Basta, Ian Lee. CLICK HERE.
  • The Economics of the 99% -- Steve Max. CLICK HERE.
  • Drowning in Debt -- Joanne Barkan, Mike Konczal, Serge Bakalian, Beth Cozzolino. CLICK HERE.
  • The YDS Summer Conference will be held August 8 through 11 in Washington, DC. More information about it can be found HERE.

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 27
    -- Labor Education
    Recorded 05.11.2013: Emily Rosenberg and Bob Breving discuss labor education. In particular, they talk about the DePaul Labor Education Program that has some unique and some nearly unique features, including a program for high schools.
    CLICK HERE.



    Politics

    Congress Hotel Strike Ends
    Chicago DSA is proud of the role we played in supporting the striking workers, but the world's longest strike is over. The union has made an unconditional offer to return to work on behalf of the strikers, but, as the Local 1 press release said, "it is unclear whether any strikers will choose to." The Congress Hotel's attorney is quoted in the Chicago Tribune as say the hotel and union officials are planning to meet to facilitate the next step. The Local 1 press release can be found HERE.


    Ars Politica

    "No"
    Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this razor-sharp satire is an amazing story based on fact. In 1988, brutal Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet decides to buff up his international image by holding a token plebiscite, with each side presenting its case in nightly TV broadcasts. Enter René (García Bernal), a hotshot ad man who couldn't care less about politics but senses an opportunity to butter up his estranged leftist wife. The anti-Pinochet forces prefer an earnest campaign dwelling on gloom and torture; René grasps that democracy has to be sold like cola or candy or any other commodity, with upbeat images and jaunty jingles. Director Larraín (TONY MANERO, POST MORTEM) ingeniously shoots the film in murky period-appropriate VHS, merging the personal story with archival footage and the actual commercials used in the campaign. No is playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center, May 31 through June 6. MORE INFORMATION.



    Democratic Socialism

    No Left Turn?
    by Bob Roman
    In a minor masterpiece of whining over at CounterPunch, Jeffrey St. Clair asks:

    Is there a Left in America today?

    There is, of course, a Left ideology, a Left of the mind, a Left of theory and critique. But is there a Left movement?

    Does the Left exist as an oppositional political, cultural or economic force? Is anyone intimidated or restrained by the Left? Is there a counterforce to the grinding machinery neoliberal capitalism and its political managers?

    St. Clair counts the ways and comes to the silence of the lambs:

    One looks in vain across this vast landscape of despair for even the dimmest flickers of real rebellion and popular mutiny, as if surveying a nation of somnambulists.

    We remain strangely impassive in the face of our own extinction.

    Bhaskar Sunkara pursues a similar theme in Lean Socialist at In These Times:

    He wasn't a household name, but for the last half of the 20th century Michael Harrington was the most prominent socialist in the United States. International leaders like Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme said that if Harrington were European, he'd be a head of state-rather than simply a regular on late-night C-Span. William F. Buckley was more dismissive, noting, "Being called America's foremost socialist is like being the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas."

    Sunkara goes on to call for "a Left willing to engage with liberalism, but," he cautions:

    the trends in this respect are not promising. A peculiar brand of anarchism, prevalent during the Occupy movement, has attracted many young activists to its ranks. Their master plan for world change: Refuse to take power. Avoid politics. Occupy squats and "liberate space." Celebrate liberalism's collapse and hope something better will arise out of the rubble.

    This charge might ring a bell for some. Harrington discussed the very same conflict in a speech back in 1971. See "On Socialism" at the Chicago DSA web site. It's an old conversation.

    But if it didn't work out back then, it must have been Harrington's fault, says Sunkara.

    A new New Deal alliance would bode well for the liberal-Left, but playing a role in rejuvenating American liberalism will only be a means to an end. That's where Michael Harrington and his co-conspirators, many of whom were leaders of the labor movement, erred. Their folly wasn't a hostility to engagement with liberals, like that of today's anarchist youth, but that their political strategy by design played second fiddle to, and eventually became indistinguishable from, that of their liberal counterparts. Given the chance during the high-water mark of American liberalism, they were unable to build their own institutions and struggle for dominance within the broader progressive coalition.

    In "The Problem Is Capitalism," at In These Times, Joe Schwartz and Maria Svart take exception to this overly easy diagnosis:

    First, we must remind liberals of history. Before social democracy retreated, socialists foresaw the dangers of insufficiently radical reforms. In the 1970s and 1980s, European socialist theorists such as Nicos Poulantzas and Andre Gorz joined Harrington in warning that if the Left failed to socialize control over investment, the corporate drive for profit would lead capital to abandon the "social contract" compromise of the welfare state.

    Sunkara was being polite. After all, it is not as if his In These Times article accused the left of political onanism, as he did at Jacobin in "Fellow Travelers." To solve the absence of a left, he says therein,

    will take an organizational revolution, not just a cultural one. We're weird because we're not accountable to any mass constituency, not because we didn't watch enough cable growing up.

    Okay, maybe that too.

    But it's impossible to deny that institutionally the socialist left is in disarray, fragmented into a million different groupings, many of them with essentially the same politics. It's an environment that breeds the narcissism of small differences. In a powerless movement, the stakes aren't high enough to make people work together and the structures aren't in place to facilitate substantive debate.

    He goes on to call for a

    convergence of American socialists committed to non-sectarian organizing under the auspices of an overarching democratic structure. This in itself may not seem like a significant undertaking -- we're only talking about a few groups and a few thousand people -- but we shouldn't let those humble beginnings obscure the potential that a fresh start for the organized left holds.

    As a "first step," Jacobin (and DSA) is among the organizers of a June 5th panel discussion and reception in New York City, entitled "The Future of the Left: A Conversation on Socialist Unity."

    All this strikes me as rather similar to Andy Stern's attempt to rationalize the labor movement. Maybe that was a good idea and Andy Stern was the problem. But here we are.

    Socialism as a political movement with any kind of mass constituency has been dead in America since at least the 1970s and maybe longer. Moreover, whether one should speak of a single movement or of several movements is entirely arguable. Is this really worth the effort, or should we be thinking about how socialism got its start in this country -- like so much else, through immigrants. And that would imply something mostly new.

    Having said that, even so, where this goes can only be a guess. It could be a new awakening. It may be you can't get there from here. It could be the final bleats of the lambs.


    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.


    New Ground #148.2

    06.15.2013

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    New YDS Organizer
    Socialist International, Progressive Alliance, DSA and the European Left

    1. Politics

    It's the Taxes, Stupid

    2. Ars Politica

    Hothouse Rebooted

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers and Mondragon
    Socialist Unity, the Movie

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 28
    -- Someone Like Me
    Recorded 06.08.2013: Meet Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood. She has been running to be added to the Hyatt board with the support of the UNITE HERE union through a campaign called "Someone Like Me." Crisscrossing the country since 2012, Youngblood has been speaking to workers and community leaders about the need for strong worker board representation to help correct years of abuses at Hyatt. This will, she argues, make it a better hotel for the people who work there, the families who stay there, and the shareholders who have seen the formidable chain decline in revenue and value recently. Interviewed by Tom Broderick.
    CLICK HERE.

    New YDS Organizer

    My name is Neal Meyer and I got my start in politics and organizing doing labor solidarity work in college with Harvard's Student Labor Action Movement. We worked on two major campaigns while I was a member: an anti-layoffs campaign right after the recession and a "Sustainable Foods, Sustainable Jobs" campaign to support the dining hall workers' contract negotiations. I also studied American labor history, and I wrote my thesis on why it mattered that the CIO organizing campaigns of the 1930s relied so heavily on organizers who came out of the socialist movement.

    MORE.

    The YDS Summer Conference will be held August 8 through 11 in Washington, DC. More information about it can be found HERE.

    Socialist International, Progressive Alliance, DSA and the European Left
    Stephan Peter is a co-chair of DSA's International Commission, an erstwhile member of the German SDP, presently employed by Die Linke. At the DSA International Commission web site, he writes:

    Around 2011 I went to the headquarters of the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) in Amsterdam to meet with a staffer from the party's International Department. I was surprised to learn that they were collaborators in formulating a systematic critique on the Socialist International (SI) -- a critique apparently initiated by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and then published in the 02/2011 edition of 'Intern,' a bulletin for SPD activists and representatives.

    A year earlier I served as member of a small Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) delegation to the SI Congress in Paris. There was a large guest delegation from the Chinese CP present. They were permitted to address the room. We -- a full voting member and sole U.S. representative to the SI -- were not. A small German SPD delegation was there, too. But not all of them stayed for the entire conference. A friend from the International Department of the Mexican PRD complained to me how this travel all over the world was getting difficult to fund. It came as little surprise when SI leaders announced that more than half the 150-party membership was behind with their dues.

    MORE.



    Politics

    It's the Taxes, Stupid
    The lack of them, to be specific, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability:

    Given that General Fund Deficits have been incurred over such an extended period of time, many have naturally concluded that overspending on services must be a major contributing factor. The data, however, clearly indicate that Illinois' persistent General Fund deficits are primarily caused by its tax policy, not its service spending.

    MORE. (PDF)

    The Center also released an analysis of Illinois' FY 2014 budget, as passed by the Illinois General Assembly and pending the Governor's signature or veto(s). CLICK HERE. (PDF)


    Ars Politica

    Hothouse Rebooted
    Some of you may remember Hothouse, a near-south side arts and politics space. It never entirely went away, transforming into Portoluz, an organization that sponsored films, panels, music, and more without a particular venue. This may be about to change. "We have the Hothouse back," they say. They have a relaunch benefit party in the works: MORE INFORMATION.



    Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers and Mondragon
    Some time ago, the United Steelworkers and Mondragon announced a partnership to develop cooperative enterprises in the United States. More recently, they released not a business plan but a template for business plans. The Democracy Collaborative's Steve Dubb interviewed Rob Witherell, who works for the United Steelworkers as the lead liaison to the Mondragon Cooperative, and provides some more detail on the progress to date. CLICK HERE.

    Socialist Unity, the Movie
    In the New Ground 148.1, "No Left Turn?", Bob Roman talked about a meeting in New York to discuss prospects for some manner of unity on the left. You can watch the presentations 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.


    New Ground #148.3

    07.01.2013

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Defend and Expand Democracy
    DSA in the News
    YDS Summer Conference
    Democratic Left
    You Belong Here

    1. Politics

    May BLS Jobs Report
    Fortress Unionsim?
    By Thy Rivers Gently Glowing, Illinois, Illinois

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers, Mondragon, CUNY, and Union Coops
    Going Postal, North Dakota, and Other Financial Alternatives

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Defend and Expand Democracy

    Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that threatens four decades of gains in the protection of voting rights and rights to representation of citizens of color. Hundreds of thousands of civil rights activists put their lives on the line to win the expansion of the suffrage. We must not allow five Republican justices to overturn the right to vote, a civil right which underpins the defense of all other rights.

    MORE.

    DSA in the News
    The Young Democratic Socialists were held up as a positive example in a Ravenna, Kent & Portage County, Ohio, Record-Courier op-ed. Kansas City, Missouri, community radio station KKFI's Sprouts program had a half hour summary of New York's 2013 Left Forum that included a summary of the Left Forum's history, including DSA. We also get mentioned in blogs every day. These are almost exclusively right-wing blogs. Almost but not quite: The North Star reposted an Activist post by David Duhalde that replies to some International Socialist Organization (ISO) sniping. Also worth reading at The North Star is this item on ISO. (DSA mentioned once in the comments.) There is also this interview with Harlan Baker on Maine Larry Crane. Baker is a DSA member who worked for the Chicago Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee back in the 1970s.

    YDS Summer Conference
    The YDS Summer Conference will be held August 8 through 11 in Washington, DC. More information about it can be found HERE.

    Democratic Left
    The summer, 2013, issue of Democratic Left is now available for download. This issue focuses on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It also has an account of the Chicago Political Economy Group.
    CLICK HERE. (PDF)

    You Belong Here
    Isn't it time you paid your dues? Do it on line.
    CLICK HERE.



    Politics

    May BLS Jobs Report
    From the Chicago Political Economy Group:

    The labor market remained sluggish in May. Unemployment rose from 7.5% to 7.6%, while nonfarm payroll increased 175,000. Much of the job growth was concentrated in retail, food services and drinking places and temporary help. Manufacturing fell slightly.

    The growth in employment is at about the same rate as has characterized the economy over the last year. This rate is simply not enough to make headway against the huge damage done by the financial panic and recession that started in late 2007. The key measure of labor market health, the employment to population ratio remains stuck at 58.6%. That ratio has been at this level since 2010. On the eve of the recession the employment to population ratio was over 63%. In the 2001 recession this measure never fell below 62%. The economy remains in deep trouble. We are treading water. Growth is barely covering population increases. The human cost of the recession continues. The simple logic of the numbers is that we have made no progress.

    MORE.

    Fortress Unionism?
    With the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, organized labor has had one foot on a banana peel and the other more existentially positioned. At Democracy, Rich Yeselson outlines the history, the problem, and, for private sector unions, proposes a possible approach to solving the dilemma: sporulate. CLICK HERE.

    By Thy Rivers Gently Glowing, Illinois, Illinois

    Controversial radioactive waste legislation was introduced into the U.S. Senate today that could result in Illinois becoming a de facto national high-level radioactive waste dumpsite until at least 2048.

    MORE.


    Democratic Socialism

    Steelworkers, Mondragon, CUNY, and Union Coops

    The City University of New York School of Law's Community Economic Development (CED) Clinic has launched a new partnership with the Mondragon Cooperatives, the largest worker-owned cooperative in the world.

    Under the new partnership, the CED Clinic, in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Regional Housing Legal Services, will help launch the Pittsburgh Clean & Green Laundry, an eco-friendly laundry based on Mondragon's cooperative model. Pittsburgh Clean & Green aims to re-employ 100 primarily minority laundry workers, who were laid off when their Sodexho Corporation laundry closed. They will work in a new state-of-the-art facility in Pittsburgh's Central District.

    MORE.

    Going Postal, North Dakota, and Other Financial Alternatives
    At Dollars & Sense, Abby Scher reports:

    Hundreds of people seeking a roadmap for remaking the banking system gathered north of San Francisco in early June at Public Banking 2013: Funding the New Economy, a conference held at Dominican University, whose Green MBA program was a cosponsor. It was the second annual gathering sponsored by the Public Banking Institute (PBI) -- the California-based nonprofit that is popularizing the idea of a North Dakota-style public bank.

    MORE.


    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.


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