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New Ground 30

July - August, 1993


  • Julian Bond and Mollie L. West Honored at 35th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner by Carl Shier and Bob Roman
  • West Suburban DSA Builds Links by Paul Lenart
  • Congress to Vote on Cesar Chavez Workplace Fairness Bill by John Albanese
  • Stanley Gross Named to ILGWU VP Post
  • Steve Culen Resigns

  • Julian Bond and Mollie L. West Honored at 35th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner

    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 the speech.

    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.

    West Suburban DSA Builds Links

    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 directions).

    Congress to Vote on Cesar Chavez Workplace Fairness Bill

    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 bill.

    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: (202) 224-3121.

    Stanley Gross Named to ILGWU VP Post

    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.

    Steve Culen Resigns

    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.

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