by Bob Roman
More than 60 people gathered outside of Niketown on north Michigan
Avenue on April 18, protesting the sweatshop conditions under
which Nike products are made. The demonstration was part of an
international campaign of action against sweatshops and part of
a campaign against the Free Trade Area of the Americas then being
discussed in Santiago, Chile, by the heads of state in the western
hemisphere. Teach-ins on sweatshops and free trade at a number
of major university campuses were conducted in the days immediately
before and after the demonstration.
The participation of Congressman Luis Gutierrez and gubernatorial
candidate Glen Poshard guaranteed adequate media attention, even
provoking a whining response from a Nike spokesman about being
Other speakers included Father Tom Joyce of the Eighth Day
Center, Carlos Carrillo from the AFL-CIO Midwest Regional Office,
Katie Jordan of the Chicago Chapter of the Coalition of Labor
Union Women and Carwil James from the University of Chicago DSA
The demonstration and teach-ins in Chicago were part of an
International Days of Action coordinated by the Western Hemisphere
Workers' Conference Against NAFTA and by the Campaign for Labor
Rights. The confluence of actions against both sweatshops and
the Free Trade Area of the Americas was accidental. The Campaign
for Labor Rights had planned a Second International Nike Mobilization
for April 18, and the Western Hemisphere Workers' Conference Against
NAFTA, held last year in San Francisco, had planned a counter-summit
in Santiago to be accompanied by demonstrations and other actions
during April 15 through 18. Once discovered, the two agendas were
Thus while demonstrations were being held across the hemisphere
and while President Clinton schemed with the Presidents, Prime
Ministers and Foreign Ministers of North and South America, activists
were also meeting in a "Summit of the Peoples" in Santiago,
The actions in Chicago were organized by the Chicago Jobs with
Justice Cross Border Organizing Committee and is the latest in
a series of actions designed to support labor rights around the
world. Chicago DSA and the UofC DSA Youth Section are among the
several organizations participating in the CJwJ Cross Border Organizing
by Charity Crouse
Comrades from all over the country gathered at the Borough
of Manhattan Community College in New York City on Mar 20-22 at
the Socialist Scholars Conference. Over two thousand people attended
the three-day event, which featured 110 panel discussions and
over 400 speakers.
DSA-YS International Chair and Chicago DSA member Daraka Larimore
Hall got things started during the Friday evening opening panel
entitled "A World to Win: New Organizing for Social Change."
Panel speakers included Elaine Bernard of the Harvard Trade Union
Program and DSA member Bogdan Denitch.
DSA-Youth Section members Oscar Owens, Co-Chair of the Youth
Section and member of the conference steering committee, and Michael
Key of James Madison University in Virginia spoke on the future
of socialism in "The Next Generation of Socialists and the
Future of the Movement" early Saturday morning. Youth Section
Organizer Kevin Pranis spoke at two panels, one on the prison
industrial complex with former Chicago DSA member Raybblin Vargas,
and one of the last panels of the conference on the state of student
Other DSA members helped round out a substantial DSA presence.
National Political Committee member Chris Riddiough was a panelist
on the "Blair/Clinton: Toward a New Paradigm and New International?"
panel. Pamela Donovan was a panelist for the "Whither Feminism
II: In the Age of Austerity" panel. Joseph Schwartz and Bogdan
Denitch confronted author Leo Panitch concerning his book The
End of Parliamentary Socialism: From the New Left to New Labour.
Former National Director Alan Charney spoke on the future of socialism
as well as the future of independent politics in New York City.
Several supplemental activities coincided with the conference
and were incorporated into the presentations. "Films of Resistance:
Many Faces of Neoliberal Struggle" included a roster of thirteen
independent films covering topics such as the Iran-Contra affair
and coming out in the workplace. An open town meeting on the '98
Juneteenth Chicago Convention of the Black Radical Congress augmented
the already intensive and encompassing discussions.
Tables were set up in the lobby of the college to provide a
forum for hard-working socialist groups and publications, as well
as a whole slew of sectarian fourth internationalists who were
eager to denounce many of the panels and programs they were unwilling
to attend. For the most part, however, one can't help but be encouraged
by the sight of so many people willing to don the big "s"
word and talk openly about the struggles that we'll all be wrestling
with for many years to come. Sitting behind the national DSA table
gave one the opportunity to converse with socialists of varying
faiths, as well as acquaint one with DSA members from all over
the country. Chicago DSA member Ralph Suter shared a table with
the "Capital CD-ROM," where the Internationale
surely helped accentuate the aims of the Socialist
With over ten panels occurring simultaneously at designated
periods throughout the day it was difficult to focus attention
on just one pressing topic, but attendance at almost all the panels
was over capacity. For many of those who went, it was a sign that
we who struggle are not alone, and as Larimore-Hall mentioned
at the opening of the conference, "we have a lot of work
On the evening of Monday, April 21, the Progressive Challenge
came to Chicago. Starting off with a town hall style meeting that
brought together about 150 people in the UNITE hall at 333 S.
Ashland in Chicago, the meeting was structured to present testimony
from representative of various local organizations to local Congressional
members of the Progressive Caucus.
DSA was particularly well represented by the testimony of the
Youth Section's International Secretary, Daraka Larimore-Hall.
Daraka Larimore-Hall gave an impassioned, coherent presentation
that linked the various aspects of DSA's agenda with the project
at hand. He also pointed out that the attitude on campus is not
so much conservative or apathetic as practical. Ideology is not
enough if it is not accompanied by useful politics.
Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis
attended the meeting, though only Representative Jackson was there
for the entire program.
This initial outreach / organizing meeting of the Progressive
Challenge in Chicago was organized and hosted by Chicago Jobs
with Justice Committee for New Priorities as one of their monthly
The Progressive Challenge is an effort to link the Congressional
Progressive Caucus with the larger left grass roots network of
single issue, constituent, labor and ideological organizations.
The Institute for Policy Studies is very much the keystone organization
of this project, which has brought together some 40 organizations
including DSA, Americans for Democratic Action, United Electrical
Workers, NETWORK, National Jobs for All Coalition to name a few.
No one of these groups is a major player inside the Beltway, but
together they have captured the attention of the Progressive Caucus
and contributed to its growth.
The Progressive Challenge began with a conference on Capitol
Hill in January of 1997. The conference was followed by a year
of public briefings, working groups and brain-storming which resulted
in the Fairness Agenda (see side-bar).
The Fairness Agenda was unveiled at a Progressive Caucus State
of the Union on January 27 of this year.
What brings the Fairness Agenda one step beyond political rhetoric
is that each of the eight points have been accompanied by one
or more pieces of legislation introduced by members of the Progressive
But the Progressive Challenge is still very much a creature
of the Beltway. If it is to be significantly useful to the participating
groups and to the Progressive Caucus, if it is to make a difference
in politics and in life, it must expand beyond this central if
narrow venue. This is the central purpose of this meeting in Chicago
in addition to other meeting planned or being planned in Atlanta,
the Bay Area, Detroit, New York, New England, New Orleans. Meetings
have already been held in Sand Diego, Maine and Boston. The DSA
Youth Section is exploring the possibilities of a Youth Progressive
Challenge with the Center for Campus Organizing, U.S. Student
Association and Student Environmental Action Coalition.
In a very real way, the Progressive Challenge and the Fairness
Agenda is the first fruit of the 1997 DSA National Convention.
The focus of conversation and debate at the Convention was building
a broader left. The Convention Resolution on Building a Broader
Left called for a discussion among the democratic left on means
for strengthening the progressive community, and it explicitly
endorsed the Progressive Challenge as a venue for such a discussion,
stating: "The Progressive Challenge represents a key center
for this discussion in the context of its economic justice and
While the Progressive Challenge has made a brave and hopeful
beginning in Chicago and elsewhere outside the Beltway, it may
be too early in the season for it to prosper immediately. In Chicago,
at least, the Progressive Challenge lacks an institutional base
and resources. It resembles the early days of Jobs with Justice
in Chicago, before the local union movement made the commitment
to provide the resources for office and staff. This is not so
much a comment on the project's prospects as a comment on just
how far its organizers have to go.
I. Enact a Fairness Budget for America
America's abundant resources must be
used to build a decent society. We propose cutting military spending
and corporate giveaways and reinstating progressive taxation,
while redirecting revenues to invest in human resources, such
as schools and health care, and in infrastructure, such as mass
II Ensure Jobs, Living Wages, Benefits
and Worker Rights for All
Our nation depends on a vigorous and
innovative workforce that is assured basic rights. We propose
government job creation, especially in areas of high unemployment;
laws requiring profitable companies to compensate workers and
communities affected by job cuts; elimination of tax breaks for
companies that provide excessive executive compensation; and stronger
protections against labor rights violations and all forms of discrimination.
III Ensure Equality for All
Despite recent progress, there is still
widespread discrimination in this country based on race, gender,
disabilities, age and sexual orientation. Wage gaps by sex and
by race and de facto segregation still exist. Two means
of addressing these problems include sufficient funding for agencies
that administer anti-discrimination laws and reinforcing affirmative
action while exploring the integration of class-based criteria
into such programs.
IV Promoting a Just and Sustainable
Free trade agreements and World Bank
/ IMF structural adjustment programs have increased inequalities
at home and abroad. We propose an international dialogue to develop
alternative trade and development initiatives that encompass the
protection of worker and women's rights, environmental standards,
and food security, and tackle the issues of immigration and the
need to reduce inequalities.
V Support Demilitarization, Human
Rights and a New Internationalism
We propose: cutting military expenditures;
negotiating to eliminate all nuclear weapons; shifting R&D
priorities toward pressing domestic needs; stopping NATO expansion;
banning landmines; ending subsidies for arms exporters and arms
transfers for dictators; banning covert operations; shifting from
unilateral military aid and U.S. controlled peacekeeping missions
abroad to multilateral responses; and promoting real human rights
abroad, which includes political, economic, social and cultural
VI Guarantee Sustainable Communities
and Environmental Justice
We propose: distribution of more no-strings
federal funds, especially to poor communities; revisions in trade
agreements to allow communities to enact strong environmental
and labor laws; and retargetting federal insurance, subsides and
loans for community development. On environmental justice, we
propose: promoting the right to a clean environment and replacing
subsidies for polluters with subsidies for ecologically sound
products and services. We also support a shift to more sustainable
agriculture that supports rural communities and a safe food supply.
VII Provide Adequate Social Investment
We propose: preserving Social Security
and protecting it from privatization, remaking economic security
structures to address the needs of the poor, offering universal
access to affordable quality healthcare, protecting and expanding
Medicare eligibility to people of all ages and income, creating
a bill of rights to protect health care consumers, increasing
funds for low-income housing assistance, and providing adequate
funding for quality public education.
VIII Limit Private Money in Politics
Public outrage is increasing over the
abuse of campaign finance loopholes, systematic influence-peddling,
and political favors granted to special interests. Candidates
who reject contributions from private sources, accept spending
limits, and run shorter campaigns should have the options of receiving
clean, disinterested money for their elections. Such a voluntary
system would provide an alternative to private fundraising, create
a financially level playing field and tighten loopholes.
by Carl Shier
On Friday, March 13th, Chicago's democratic left lost one of
its champions, Saul Mendelson.
Saul Mendelson was a co-founder of the Debs Dinner in 1958.
He was its treasurer for the first ten years and worked diligently
to make it a success for 39 years. Saul received the Thomas -
Debs Award in 1988.
Saul Mendelson was also a real believer in union movement.
He fought for the right of teachers to bargain collectively and
he was a member and leader of the American Federation of Teachers.
He was active in reform politics in Chicago, especially the
campaigns for Harold Washington. He even ran for State Senator
in 1970. He was the foreign policy specialist for the Americans
for Democratic Action (ADA). Saul was the essence of the long
Memorial services were held on March 29 and on April 2 by the
Harold Washington College Chapter of the Cook County Teachers
At the memorial service held at the 1st Unitarian Church on
South Woodlawn, speaker after speaker recounted Saul's contributions.
The service was ably MC'd by a retired colleague, Bob Clark. I
spoke first and was followed by Saul's friend Deborah Meier, a
MacArthur Genius Grant recipient who is now starting a new school
in Boston. Amy Isaacs, National Director of the ADA, spoke of
what Saul had meant on foreign affairs to the ADA. Other speakers
included Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle,
State Senator Barak Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara
Flynn Currie and a good friend from New York, Myra Russell. The
concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley,
who is now Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami
The Saul Mendelson Memorial at Harold Washington College had
colleagues speaking of what Saul had meant to the professors because
of his union leadership as Chair of the Chapter. The event was
organized by the present Chapter Chair, Mike Ruggeri.
For Jennie, his companion for 50 years and the mother of his
children, and for all his friends, the two memorials were very
You joined the Socialist movement at
the age of 18. You chaired the Socialist Club at the University
of Chicago. You taught and inspired students at DuSable High School.
You fought in the civil rights struggles with the NAACP, with
CORE, and with the Negro American Labor Council. You have held
fast to your belief in democratic socialism.
You fought for collective bargaining
for public employees and were the vice-president of the Chicago
Teachers Union High School Division when the first collective
bargaining contract was achieved. You became a professor at Loop
College (now Harold Washington College) and were its union chair
from 1969 to 1986 in the Cook County College Local. Five of the
times your union was forced on strike, you were your chapter's
strike committee chair.
You have been active in reform politics
for years, as chair of the state IVI-IPO, and presently as chair
of the South Side IVI-IPO. You have served on the national board
of the Americans for Democratic Action since 1966. You participated
as an area coordinator in all stages of the 1983 and 1987 mayoral
victories of Harold Washington and in Charles Hayes' Congressional
campaigns. This year's Democratic Party Convention will be your
third, and you go to Atlanta as a Second Congressional District
delegate for Jesse Jackson.
You were one of the founders of this
Dinner when it was known as the Debs Dinner and you served as
its treasurer for ten years. On this seventh day of May, 1988,
the Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Award is given to you for living
an active, dedicated life in the pursuit of the ideas and ideals
of these two great socialists.