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#153

March -- April, 2014

Contents

  • Union Bargains While Administration Stalls by Judith Kegan Gardiner
  • Drop the Charges
  • Hatred of Democracy: A Review by Dan Hamilton
  • Vote the TPP by Tom Broderick
  • A Note from Pete Seeger
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • GOPDSA Reception
    Posters
    Bowlathon!
    Debs Dinner

  • Upcoming Events of Interest
  • New Ground 153.1 -- 04.01.2014

    0. DSA News

    Immigration Reform: What's Next?
    Socialist Reading Group
    Greater Oak Park DSA Reception
    The War on Poverty: Fifty Years After
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Hold Representative Robin Kelly Accountable!
    Trans Pacific Partnership
    President Sanders?

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Platypus

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 153.2 -- 04.15.2014

    0. DSA News

    War on Poverty?
    DSA in the News
    Job Opening

    1. Politics

    Rallying for the Robin Hood Tax
    Life & Taxes: The Political Economy of Taxes
    An Occupier's Trial
    The March Jobs Repor
    t

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Faculty Walkout at University of Illinois Chicago:
    Union Bargains While Administration Stalls

    by Judith Kegan Gardiner
    Frustrated by administration stalling on the negotiations for a first union contract, UIC tenure track and non-tenure track faculty joined together February 18 and 19, 20014, for a walk out. Instead of teaching regular classes, unionized faculty joined rallies and picket lines in front of classroom buildings. The union received strong support from students, local and national organizations, and other workers on campus. Energy was high. According to AFT organizer Dawn Tefft, more than one thousand UIC United Faculty (UICUF) members, students, and other supporters participated over the two-day walk out.

    Signs carried by faculty outside classroom and administration buildings indicated key causes of faculty dissatisfaction. "What would Jane Addams do?" asked a sign in front of the famous Chicago activist's historic Hull-House Museum on Halsted Street. "Close your laptop and join the picket line," others urged. Some signs said simply, "Contract Now" and "Teaching Conditions = Learning Conditions." One long-term lecturer held a sign saying, "I teach, therefore I am [exploited]."

    The UIC UF union was recognized by the Illinois Labor Relations Board in June, 2012, and union representatives rapidly drafted a set of contract demands. Key issues include multi-year contracts and raises for non-tenure track faculty, many of whom with Ph.D. degrees currently earn $30,000 a year for full-time teaching or less, which is less than public school teachers earn and about on a par with many fast food workers. However, these "adjuncts" or "contingent faculty" are treated as temporary workers without job security who can be fired by administrative will, even when they've been teaching at UIC for years. Although tenured faculty are more secure, they have received no raises in the past few years and in fact were subject to a "furlough" or pay cut imposed from the top. According to statistics circulated by the American Association of University Professors, the University of Illinois system is far from broke: It is accumulating huge cash reserves from raised tuition, even though aid via the state legislature continues to decline.

    Distinguished Chicago activist Dick Simpson, Professor of Political Science at UIC, declared that "I'm striking so that future teachers will be protected and have their rights. We are the ones who create this university and deserve a voice." Lennard Davis, Professor of English and of Disability Studies, criticized the UIC administration's long "charade of collective bargaining," conducted by administration lawyers but without the participation of decision-making authorities.

    Many faculty feel that the governing body of the University of Illinois system, the Board of Trustees appointed by the governor, has adopted a corporate model of management, resulting in higher tuition costs to students, larger numbers of high-paid administrators, but fewer stable faculty. In contrast, the University of Oregon, whose union was formed at the same time as UIC's, has now achieved an equitable contract endorsed by its faculty.

    Claiming that tenured and contingent faculty have nothing in common, the UIC administration sued UICUF to insure that there be two bargaining units. However, UIC United Faculty have continued to cooperate in joint bargaining sessions rather than permitting themselves to be divided. Non-tenure track faculty share concerns about faculty voice, participation in governance, and responsibility to students. They agree that contingent faculty who must travel to multiple jobs to make ends meet cannot devote themselves as fully as they would wish to attending student conferences and supervising student labs and writing.

    UIC United Faculty President Joe Persky, a Professor of Economics, claims that "The heart of UIC is its faculty and its students, but the Illinois Board of Trustees short change them both. They take more of our students' tuition money, and even with hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, they refuse to pay professors what they're worth.... The administration's priorities don't match our mission, and after trying to negotiate a fair contract for eighteen months, they left us no choice but to strike, which only strengthened our unity and resolve. It's time for the University to get as serious as we are, and settle this contract now." If a reasonable settlement is not reached soon, the union fears it will have to engage in a longer, more open-ended strike at the end of the spring term.

    Editor's Note: Strike photos and the latest about the February walkout can be found at uicunitedfaculty.org. For a look at the issues facing labor in academia, see Episode 22 of "Talkin' Socialism", an interview with Joe Persky and Holly Graff.


    Drop the Charges!

    A Statement by DSA's National Political Committee
    The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the prosecution of DSA member Cecily McMillan for a class D felony allegedly committed during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on March 17, 2012, in Zuccotti Park, New York, NY. DSA calls for all charges to be dropped against Ms. McMillan.

    Seized by police during a mass arrest of peaceful protestors, McMillan was beaten severely by the police on her ribs and arms until she went into seizure. She was subsequently denied medical treatment by the police for a lengthy period of time.

    According to her attorney, before the beating, an individual grabbed her right breast from behind and McMillan instinctively threw an elbow in response. McMillan's assailant turned out to be a male plainclothes police officer. In addition, the defense has recently learned that the arresting officer has previously been involved in incidents involving the possible excessive use of force, as well as other possible illegal behavior.

    Despite the facts in the case that demonstrate that the police initiated the altercation, Cecily McMillan is facing charges that could yield up to a seven year prison term. Due to the unjustified nature of the police assault on McMillan and her subsequent brutal beating, DSA joins independent observers in demanding that the charges be dropped immediately.

    At the same time, DSA would point out that McMillan is just one of more than 700 protesters arrested in the course of New York Occupy Wall Street's mass mobilization. These mass arrests during a peaceful protest resulted from a policing policy of "arrest now, ask questions, and find charges later," a pattern of unjust policing noted in a scrupulously detailed report issued by the NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School faculties.

    According to this report, the NYPD routinely used excessive force against Occupy protestors, with the police employing batons, pepper spray, scooters, and horses against the peaceful demonstrators. This behavior has led to the vast majority of these 700 charges being dismissed by the courts.

    DSA notes that Cecily McMillan has been an active member for several years of both DSA and its youth section, the Young Democratic Socialists, having served as the volunteer northeast regional coordinator for YDS in 2011-12. But McMillan's case is just one blatant example of a broader pattern of state violation of the basic right of all to peacefully assemble and protest.

    DSA urges its members and friends to participate in demonstrations of support for McMillan and to contribute to the costs of her defense. We urge everyone to sign the petition requesting that the District Attorney drop the charges against McMillan.

    Concerned individuals can click here to find more information about the upcoming protest on her arraignment date of March 19.

    To follow any new developments please join the Facebook [event] page "Cecily's Judgement Day." [Also see justiceforcecily.com.]

    In addition, we urge members to click here to contribute funds for her defense. Please join with us and stand in solidarity with Cecily.


    Hatred of Democracy: A Review

    by Dan Hamilton
    Jacques Rancière's book Hatred of Democracy, despite being quite polemical and vitriolic in tone, provides something important for leftists, particularly those in the United States. In a society where democracy is most commonly understood as a counterpart to capitalism, regaining a meaning of what democracy truly can be is as imperative as ever. If those who control the prevailing notion of democracy succeed in defining it in its neoliberal form, how do we on the democratic left formulate what we are hoping to achieve?

    The narrative needs to be regained about the nature of democracy. If we only see a strict binary between the private sphere and the government, it is no wonder that the democratic process will become impoverished. As Rancière points out, democracy is not necessarily about enlarging the influence of government but about enlarging the public sphere: "Enlarging the public sphere does not entailasking for State encroachments on society." He also writes, calling out those who have co-opted the name of democracy for neoliberal ends, "Under the name democracy what is being implicated and denounced is politics itself."

    Although Rancière is writing from a French perspective, his critique hits particularly hard here in the US. It ought to be argued that if we want a healthier version of democracy that moves beyond simply serving either private or governmental interests, the public sphere needs to be expanded. When conservatives in the US argue for the privatization of healthcare, schools, and social security, they aren't simply arguing for the private sector to provide these services. What is actually happening, and what is far more grim, is that they are saying not only should these services not be provided through the government, but they shouldn't even be up for public discussion. How can a democracy, which hinges on the input and deliberation of the people, properly function if these most basic of topics are not allowed into the discussion?

    The role Rancière's critique can play in regaining a real meaning of democracy is an important one, but even what Rancière is doing within the confines of this little book is interesting. In calling out the neoliberals for undermining democracy, Rancière uses an effective linguistic trick. He understands that democracy is a mantle claimed by most anyone in Western society -- whether on the Right or Left. In arguing that the Right is not actually promoting democracy, Rancière does not criticize them as haters of socialism, he calls them "haters of democracy," which will go much further in undermining their position rather than using terminology they are predisposed to reject from the start.

    Another of the important arguments made in Hatred of Democracy is that we have seen in recent years a destruction of the divide between public and private, leaving us only with "the social." What has fuelled this is the increasingly consumerist nature of our democracy. It has created a situation where citizens, to be participants in democracy, no longer have to actively engage in politics, but rather can be agents of democracy simply be being a consumer -- shopping at certain stores and not at others. Of course, this is indicative of the destruction of our democracy, further shrinking the public sphere and eliminating public discourse.

    Despite this book essentially being a screed against everything that angers Rancière, once the initial fervor passes after the first chapter, the reader is rewarded with some thoughtful analysis of the nature of democracy, different theories of its form, and forces in the modern world that are working against it. Its biggest strength is the ability to shed light on the true possibilities that exist for the democratic ideal, while neither capitulating to neoliberal democratic forms nor abandoning the project entirely.

    Editor's Note: Hatred of Democracy, originally published in France in 2005, was recently reissued in 2014 as part of the Verso Radical Thinkers Series. More information on this book and information on purchasing it, can be found at Verso Books.


    Vote on the TPP

    by Tom Broderick
    The Greater Oak Park chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has the opportunity of getting a referendum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the November ballot in Oak Park. We collected enough signatures on a petition condemning the secrecy and undemocratic nature of the TPP.

    The next necessary step is to attend the Village Township meeting and get enough votes at the meeting to support ballot status. The Village Township meeting is Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 PM. The location is tentative, but very likely the same as last year, which is the Township Senior Center at 130 S. Oak Park Avenue. If that location changes, we will let you know.

    To pass, a simple majority of votes must be cast for each referendum. No more than three referenda can be on the ballot, so the referenda that get the greatest number of votes earn ballot status. Voters must be registered to vote in Oak Park.

    Please mark your calendars and join us at the Oak Park Township Senior Center on Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 PM at 130 S. Oak Park Avenue and vote for democracy in trade.


    Pete Seeger

    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    GOPDSA Reception

    Friday, April 4, 7:30 PM to 9 PM, the Greater Oak Park DSA will be having a reception for three members of DSA's National Political Committee who will be in town for the Labor Notes conference and other events:

    • Paul Garver, from Boston, a long-time labor activist recently retired from the International Union of Foodworkers.
    • Jared Abbott is a member of the Political Science Department at Temple University in Philadelphia, a writer and a player of hockey.
    • Stuart Elliott, from Wichita, is a moderator / editor at DSA's Talking Union and APWU Local 735's Legislative Director.

    The reception will be at the home of Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel, 150 N. Lombard, Oak Park, between the Austin and Ridgeland stops on the CTA Green Line. For more information, call 708.386.1371.

    Posters

    For those with an interest in left political ephemera, U.S. and European, or for someone looking to decorate a room, we've got a selection of posters you might like. Some of them may be "collectible". For most of them, we're only asking $15. To see what's still available, CLICK HERE.

    Bowlathon!

    The Chicago Abortion Fund is having a "bowlathon" on Saturday, March 29, 2 PM to 5:30 PM, at Timber Lanes, 1851 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago. Each participant is being asked to raise at least $100. The Fund provides financial assistance for women unable to afford an abortion. For more information about the event, CLICK HERE.

    Debs Dinner

    Save the date! The 56th annual Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner will be Friday evening, May 16, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. "The War on Poverty: Fifty Years On" will feature Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers' Collaborative. More details very soon!


    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 #153.1

    04.01.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Immigration Reform: What's Next?
    Socialist Reading Group
    Greater Oak Park DSA Reception
    The War on Poverty: Fifty Years After
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Hold Representative Robin Kelly Accountable!
    Trans Pacific Partnership
    President Sanders?

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Platypus

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Immigration Reform: What's Next?
    Episode 37 of Talkin' Socialism, recorded March 8, 2014. With comprehensive immigration reform dead in the water (and with SB 744 of dubious value in any case), where do we go from here? Marcella Hernandez of the Immigrant Youth Justice League provides a perspective from the immigrant youth movement. Carl Rosen, President of United Electrical Workers Western Region, discusses the issue from the stand point of labor. MP3 (31.3 MB). (34:13) For previous episodes, CLICK HERE.

    Socialist Reading Group
    Meets Saturday, April 12, 2 PM in the Conference Room at 3411 W. Diversey, Chicago. This month the group tackles education:

    For more information, contact Dan Hamilton at 847.431.4569.

    Greater Oak Park DSA Reception
    Friday, April 4, 7:30 to 9 PM at Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel, 150 N. Lombard in Oak Park. Three members of DSA's National Political Committee will be in town for the Labor Notes conference and other events:

    • Paul Garver, from Boston, a long-time labor activist recently retired from the International Union of Foodworkers.
    • Jared Abbott is a member of the Political Science Department at Temple University in Philadelphia, writer, and player of hockey.
    • Stuart Elliott, from Wichita, is a moderator / editor at DSA's Talking Union and APWU Local 735's Legislative Director.

    All DSA members are welcome. For more information, call 708-386-1371.

    The War on Poverty: Fifty Years After
    This year's Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner will be on Friday evening, May 16, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, located right across the street from the Merchandise Mart. The program features Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative. Our honorees are Robin Potter, a lawyer whose firm has played a key role in supporting the Chicago Teachers Union's struggle with the city and in opposing school closings, and Larry Spivack, President of the Illinois Labor History Society and Regional Director for AFSCME Council 31.

    For more information, CLICK HERE.

    For a printable flyer (PDF), CLICK HERE.

    DSA in the News
    The Temple University YDS chapter was mentioned in passing in an article in Temple News concerning the controversey around the dismissal of African American studies professor Anthony Monteiro.

    Hernando Today in Tampa, Florida, has been serving as a soap-box for fringy right-wing opinion for... who knows how long. So here's the latest. The change in "control of the internet" (domain naming) is a socialist conspiracy, and DSA proves it.



    Politics

    Hold Representative Robin Kelly Accountable!
    Come to Representative Kelly's district office at 600 Holiday Plaza Dr, Suite 505, Matteson [change in venue, updated 04.03.2014] on Friday, April 4, at 11 AM. U.S. Representative Robin Kelly promised to support a Robin Hood Tax. That was when she was running for election and wanted our support. Now she's running away from the Robin Hood Tax and her staff is grinding out junk arguments against the tax that have been disproven many times. Saying one thing to get elected and another once you get there is not acceptable, Representative Kelly. Come to a rally and informational picket to remind the Representative of that: Robin Kelly, it's time to honor your commitments. MORE INFORMATION.

    Trans Pacific Partnership
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is NOT a trade deal. It is a wish list for trans-national corporations. Shaped by corporate lobbyists and trade representatives from countries around the Pacific rim, it has been negotiated behind closed doors. The TPP threatens to invalidate laws concerning health, food and environmental safety as well as working conditions if deemed detrimental to current and future corporate profit.

    In Oak Park, registered voters can vote to place a referendum on our November ballot that calls for Oak Park to oppose the TPP. Come to the Village Township meeting at the

    Township Senior Center on
    Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 PM
    located at 130 S. Oak Park Ave. in Oak Park
    and vote to place this on our November ballot.

    For more information on this issue, CLICK HERE. For more information on the meeting and the referendum, EMAIL.

    President Sanders?
    So how does "President Bernie Sanders" sound to you? DSA is helping test the waters with a petition that urges Senator Sanders to run. CLICK HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Platypus
    The 6th annual Platypus International Convention will be in Chicago this coming weekend, Friday, April 4 through Sunday, April 6, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yes, that's odd. It's odder that we should be mentioning it. And what's oddest of all is that several DSA members will be making presentations at the event on Saturday: Bill Barclay, William Pelz, and Joe Schwartz are on the program. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Joe Schwartz will also be making a presentation on "Is There a Future for Socialism" at the University of Chicago on Thursday evening, April 3, 7:30 PM. This is cosponsored by some Univeristy of Chicago departments and the local Platypus society. For more information. CLICK 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 #153.2

    04.15.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    War on Poverty?
    DSA in the News
    Job Opening

    1. Politics

    Rallying for the Robin Hood Tax
    Life & Taxes: The Political Economy of Taxes
    An Occupier's Trial
    The March Jobs Repor
    t

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    War on Poverty?
    This year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's "War on Poverty that he declared at his State of the Union speech in 1964. We could do this as if it were a novel by Alexander Dumas, The War on Poverty: Fifty Years After. But after decades of retreat and surrender, it's time for a new war on poverty, one that is not an act of charity granted by a guilty nation but a demand for justice from those on the short end of the dollar, the mean end of respect, and the dead end of alternatives.

    On Friday evening, May 16, Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, will examine a new war not on poverty but injustice for which the leading edge is a new and renewed labor movement. We will honor, also, Larry Spivack (Illinois Labor History Society and AFSCME Council 31) and Robin Potter (Robin Potter & Associates). Come join us! For a printable (PDF) flyer, CLICK HERE or for more information CLICK HERE.

    DSA in the News
    Greater Oak Park DSA made the case for a Living Wage Ordinance in the Wednesday Journal. The Detroit News mentioned DSA in passing in a gossipy article on local political maneuvering. And Temple University's Temple News observed that the Young Democratic Socialists were one of the chief organizations organizing support for African American Studies Professor Anthony Monteiro.

    Job Opening
    Student/Youth organizer. MORE INFORMATION.



    Politics

    Rallying for the Robin Hood Tax
    At Talking Union, Bill Barclay writes:

    ...on April 4th there was a national mobilization around the Robin Hood Tax (RHT), the proposal for a very small tax on financial transactions in stocks, currencies, debt and derivatives, futures and options based on these financial claims. The RHT has two goals: raising a large amount of money to reconstruct the U.S. political economy in a way that serves most of the population and at, the same time, restricting or even eliminating some of the most destructive aspects of finance and financial activities by throwing a small amount of sand into the gears of always increasing and always going faster treading volumes.

    Led by National Nurses United (NNU), there were actions on the RHT in almost 25 cities around the country. In Chicago, DSA joined with NNU, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), National People's Action (NPA) and others to put pressure on Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) to support The Inclusive Prosperity Act whose primary sponsor is Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Act contains a well thought our RHT proposal that would raise $300 to 350 billion per year. Kelly had promised to support the RHT when she was running for the seat formerly held by Jesse Jackson but, after a very short time in office, has been backing away from her commitments that helped mobilize volunteers in her campaign. She and her staff are now claiming that they "have talked to economists" and have "concerns" about the RHT.

    MORE.

    Life & Taxes: The Political Economy of Taxes
    Talkin' Socialism, Episode 38, recorded April 12, 2014. No matter what we say we value or desire, what we tax, who we tax, and how we spend those taxes provide a measure true beyond any rhetoric. Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair and member of the Chicago Political Economy Group, gives an overview of U.S. taxes and the balance of power between the classes. Peg Strobel does the interview.

    Download: MP3 (26.3 MB) or OGG VORBIS (33.7 MB) (28:43)

    May Day Rally and March
    The Illinois Labor History Society will be holding its annual May Day rally at Haymarket Square at 3 PM on May 1. The French General Confederation of Labor will add a plaque to the Free Speech memorial. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    The rally will be followed by a march from the Haymarket to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices at 101 W. Congress Parkway to deliver the message: 2 million deportations is too many. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    An Occupier's Trial
    At Dissent Magazine, Maurice Isserman writes:

    Cecily McMillan has had trouble concentrating on the master's thesis she is supposed to be writing this spring under my direction at the New School in New York City, a study of the political beliefs and career of the late, great socialist, pacifist, and civil rights campaigner Bayard Rustin. It's not that Cecily has writer's block and has been avoiding the library (if only it were that). Rather, she is spending far too much of her time in the defendant's seat in a courtroom in New York City Criminal Court in Lower Manhattan. There she is facing charges of felony assault on a police officer in Zuccotti Park, birthplace of Occupy Wall Street, on March 17, 2012. On that day a demonstration took place in the park to mark the six-month anniversary of the original occupation. When the police moved in to clear the park, making scores of arrests, Cecily was caught in the melee. Her trial, billed as the last Occupy trial, began this past week, on Monday, April 7, and has drawn national and international media attention. On Friday, the newly seated jury heard opening arguments from the prosecution and from Cecily's lawyers. The case is expected to last another two weeks. If convicted, she could be sentenced to seven years in prison.

    MORE.

    At The Toast, Kathryn Funkhouser writes:

    This is not about McMillan's elbow. This is about changing the conversation.

    MORE.

    The March Jobs Report
    The Chicago Political Economy Group observes:

    The civilian labor force -- the percentage of working age adults who are employed or looking for work -- remains at a standstill. For March 2014, the figure is 63.2 percent, while in March 2013 it was 63.3 percent. The employment-population ratio of 58.9 percent is up slightly over March 2013's 58.5 percent.

    The long-term unemployed -- those out of work more than six months -- number 3.7 million. They represent 35.8 percent of the United States' 10.5 million unemployed people who are looking for work. The average amount of time out-of-work Americans spend between jobs is now 35.6 weeks. Since extended jobless benefits were cut by the federal government four months ago, 2.3 million people have been without this support, along with their 1.2 million dependent children.

    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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