by Carl Shier and Bob Roman
The 35th Annual Eugene V. Debs - Norman Thomas - Michael Harrington
Dinner was held on Friday, May 7th at the McCormick Hotel. Nearly
350 people gathered to honor the lifetime achievements of Julian
Bond and Chicago's own Mollie L. West.
The speakers, Dr. Linda Murray and awardees Mollie L. West
and Julian Bond, hit chords the audience appreciated. Dr. Murray
cautioned about what might be presented as a national health plan
and the need for a real radical change in the medical delivery
system in our country: the need for public health to be given
the consideration it needs, the need to realize that the Canadian
single payer plan was the way to go. Dr. Murray stated that although
she would like to make some changes in the Canadian approach,
there is no comparison between the U.S. way and the Canadian way.
The insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry have to
be met head-on.
In a hard hitting, inspiring speech, Julian Bond noted the
difference today in the political climate caused by the defeat
of George Bush. Even though we disagree with many of the decisions
of President Clinton, we have to say that already there is a more
pro- choice, pro-union, pro-civil rights and civil liberties climate.
Julian Bond went into a detailed description of what the trillion
dollars of defense expenditures would do for the country. It was
a fascinating account and many in the audience wanted a copy of
Bob Fitrakis, Co-Chair of the Central Ohio DSA Local and the
once and future Democratic congressional candidate from Columbus,
Ohio, was a star in a great evening. If you missed the dinner,
you missed a performance that equals any of the Master of Ceremonies
in the Dinner's history.
Bob Fitrakis began by honoring the passing of Cesar Chavez,
Irving Howe and Zoltan Ferency. He quoted from Cesar Chavez's
1984 speech to the Commonwealth Club: "Regardless of what
the future holds for farm workers, our accomplishments cannot
be undone." Bob Fitrakis told the audience that Cesar
Chavez had been honored by the sponsors of the anti-scab bill
by naming it the "Cesar Chavez Workplace Fairness Bill".
He read two statements on the death of IrvingHowe. One was from
the DSA National Political Committee. The other was from Amalgamated
Clothing and Textile Workers Union officers Jack Sheikman, Arthur
Loevy and Bruce Raynor. Fitrakis then told the audience of his
involvement in the political campaigns of Zoltan Ferency.
Several members of the audience were introduced. Among them
were Molefe Tsele, an educational activist in the South African
struggle for freedom. Also introduced were Cook County Clerk David
Orr, State Representative Jan Schakowsky and Judge Miriam Balanoff.
by Paul Lenart
Socialists in the western suburbs must continuously work at
extending contacts beyond ourselves to other progressive groups,
if we are to avoid fossilizing. May provided us with several opportunities
to do just that.
One of our members found the display case in the Naperville
Library advertising the National Day of Prayer for May 6. The
display was a crude attempt to link the day of prayer (for better
or worse, a recognized, Congressionally proclaimed day of observance)
with the particular religious views (family values, salvation
through the blood of J.C., etc.) of the Christian Right ex-
pressed by a group called Concerned Women for America. We took
the initiative to write a letter to the library board protesting
this inappropriate appearance of endorsement by public officials
of an exclusionary religious viewpoint. We had no trouble getting
signatures from a local rabbi, a Unitarian minister, two UCC pastors,
a Catholic monk, and a prominent Muslim journalist (it's amazing
who you can meet out in the backward, reactionary suburbs). It
was published by a local paper with tens of thousands of readers.
The contacts with local clergy, the local ACLU, and the press
will help us in the future.
May 6 itself was notable for another event. Wheaton saw 200
opponents of rape and violence against women march through the
streets in a well-publicized TAKE BACK THE NIGHT speakout and
demonstration. WSDSA was represented with a literature table and
a large socialist banner. Contacts were extended with the local
NOW and YWCA which sponsored the event and a number of pieces
on socialism and feminism by DSA and the Socialist International
got moderately good circulation.
WSDSA helped to publicize an info-fair of locally-based progressive
groups and eco-friendly small businesses at the College of DuPage
called PROJECT PLANET EARTH on May 22. We again had a literature
table which many people stopped at and sampled, especially our
NAFTA literature. A dozen individuals signed up for further information,
while our connections with the suburban environmental and peace
and justice community was bolstered by our promotion of an interorganizational
phone-tree. We hope eventually to have a common calendar of events
for Peace Through Justice, the West Suburban Peace Action Network,
Environmental Action Coalition, the Womyn's Coalition, and ourselves,
so we don't have unnecessary schedule conflicts.
One of the best ways we can build stronger links with the wider
Left out here, however, is to have the input of ALL west suburban
socialists, many of whom have membership in other organizations
as well. We hope more of you will meet us at the Chicago membership
meeting on June 26 or at the next WSDSA meeting on July 11 at
5 PM at Don Schneider's home in Wheaton (call 708-690-0991 for
by John Albanese
The striker replacement bill, recently renamed in the House
as the Cesar Chavez Workplace Fairness Bill (HR.5 and S.55), received
approval by a Senate committee to be sent to the chamber for a
vote. The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee voted along
strict party lines, with no Democrats voting against and no Republicans
voting for the measure. The New York Times reported that
the tally was 10 to 7. No date has been set for the vote.by the
full Senate; on June 15, the House of Representatives passed the
Once again, Senate Republicans have threatened to bust the
measure with a filibuster. It is critical that progressives contact
their senators to urge support for S.55 in the Senate.
Please call Senators Braun and Simon at the Capitol switchboard:
ILGWU Midwest Regional Director Stanley Gross was named International
Vice President at the union's General Executive Board meeting
in Washington, DC on May 20. Mr. Gross' predecessor as Vice President
from the Midwest Region was Lou Montenegro who retired in 1990.
Vice President Gross is currently a V.P. of the Illinois AFL-CIO,
and Chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee's Chicago chapter.
The head of the state's largest public employees union has
resigned. Citing heart trouble, Steve Culen announced his retirement
as executive director of the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees Council 31. He has been replaced by his
longtime assistant, Henry Bayer.