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New Ground 66

September- October, 1999


  • 200 Demand an End to Nike Sweatshops by Bob Roman
  • Uneasy Rider by Bill Dixon
  • A Union Summer by Clifton Poole
  • Chicago's Living Wage Victory by Angela West Blank
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • www.chicagodsa.org
    Challenging Corporate Globalization
    Stop the WTO
    Healthcare Rising

    200 Demand an End to Nike Sweatshops

    by Bob Roman

    Like many labor and lefty organizations, when the Coalition for Labor Union Women (CLUW) have a national convention, they like to do more than just talk and party. So when they planned their 10th biennial convention in Chicago over the Labor Day weekend, a demonstration in support of the antisweatshop movement seemed a good idea, especially when held in conjunction with the convention's outreach session aimed at young women workers. Niketown on north Michigan Avenue was selected partly because of its proximity to the Hyatt Regency where the convention was being held and partly because it has been the lead target for the international antisweatshop movement.

    This was clearly too precious an opportunity to pass by. Chicago DSA helped facilitate contacts between local solidarity groups and the CLUW National Office. But we also helped organize local turnout for the demonstration.

    Yet conventions often run on their own internal time. While the demonstration was scheduled for Saturday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, CLUW did not arrive until nearly 7 pm, closing time at Niketown. Effectively, there were two demonstrations. The first was a typical Chicago Niketown demonstration, about half being DSA members. The second, after many of the first had left, was huge. As CLUW said, "We didn't come here to just swap recipes!"

    demonstration photos

    Uneasy Rider

    by Bill Dixon

    I got a letter from the government

    the other day. I opened and read it.

    It said they was suckers.

    Public Enemy, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

    No question about it, motorcycle gangs have a way of standing out, even orderly ones, especially on those rare occasions when they happen to arrive in Washington, DC. But this particular group of bikers hadn't come simply for the sake of spectacle. They rode into town with other things on their minds: like their jobs, families, and futures.

    On the morning of June 22, several hundred American steelworkers, many mounted on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, arrived outside the US Senate. Engines revved up by way of applause as activists and leaders from the United Steelworkers of America spoke in support a bill that would curb American imports of foreign steel, which have flooded the US market in recent months, thanks the fallout from the Asian economic crisis. The DC rally culminated the USWA's Ride for Steel campaign, which spread the union's message to cities across the country. Before long, Ride for Steel grew into a formidable success, drawing a dramatic level of public support for both fair trade and the 225,000 Americans at work in the embattled steel industry.

    That very same day the bill failed miserably. The Republican leadership organized against it and the Clinton Administration had threatened a veto. What little support there was came solely from steel producing states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Remarkably, the bill was shunned by both laborfriendly liberals and America-first conservatives, normally the twin pillars of protectionist politics.

    Cautiously but with unmistakable relief, leading voices from across the political spectrum hailed the defeat as an unfortunate necessity. After all, they said, globalization is upon us, largely through US leadership. How can we demand that other countries open up to US exports if we close our own markets when things go badly? Besides the fact that it goes against our cherished freetrade principles, we'd quickly face an official challenge from the World Trade Organization and maybe even unilateral retaliation from Japan. Protect steel, and we'll endanger billions of dollars of other US goods and services, particularly agriculture. So, sorry steelworkers, but no dice; protectionism is a thing of the past.

    The Senates cavalier dismissal of the American steel industry as a mere special interest coming out of the blue in search of a handout was as bizarre as it was outrageous. Although once a relatively backward industry pampered by government subsidies and shielded from foreign rivals, US steel producers have in recent years become something of a post-globalization success story. It took more than twenty years of reorganizing for the world market: a cruel and wasteful process, botched by foolish management, which cost more than two hundred thousand American jobs. But finally American steel once again emerged as a serious international competitor. Especially important have been the industry's technological advances. And along the way American steelworkers have at last returned to their rightful position as a highly skilled, well paid, secure workforce, their product obviously crucial to the success of other US industries as well as a powerful export in its own right. But then came the Asian crisis.

    When the Asian economies crashed and the aftershocks thundered through most of the world, two things happened. First, as capital fled in blind panic and industry slowed to a crawl, demand for steel overseas plummeted and with it steel prices. Second, as the crisis deepened, US and European leaders soon became very anxious at the prospect of the Asian contagion spreading north and west.

    What to do? Conventional wisdom answers: gather hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency IMF bailout loans to jump-start fast growth in the afflicted countries, most particularly through exports, exports and more exports. Thus in the two years of aftermath to the Asian economic crisis, American steel faced a surge of cheap imports from several recovering countries, notably Korea, Brazil, Russia and Japan. All of these countries were simply following the demands of the US and European run IMF that they export their way out of recession.

    The effect of the import surge on the American steel industry would be devastating. More than ten thousand steelworkers were laid off, and three steel firms declared bankruptcy. Imports from Japan alone were thirty percent higher than the previous year, and similar increases were reported from several other steel producing countries as well. Steel imports increased somewhat in the European Union, but EU trade barriers kept the rise from posing much of a threat to European steel makers. With the developing markets still in slow recovery, that left only the US and Canada to absorb the surplus.

    Incredibly, these developments largely escaped notice in the Senate. Instead the issue ended up contorted into the rhetoric of fair competition and market discipline. Yes, we all regret the failure of American steel to beat out foreign prices, but then that's capitalism for you!

    Yet the market in fact had little to do the with the crisis. Strictly speaking, the surge in steel imports began only after the Asian markets had already collapsed and became exacerbated precisely because real prices were apparently cast aside in order to speed up recovery as per the terms of the IMF bailout. Recognizing this, the Steelworkers' bill demanded that quotas return imports only to their 1997 levels, before the crisis took effect.

    This is hardly protectionism. Indeed, the measure bore closer resemblance to the taxfunded bailouts of US investors stung by the Asian debacle, with a key difference being that the steelworkers had not courted disaster with recklessly speculative investments. Strangely enough, the steelworkers appeal found no support in the Senate.

    Vice President Gore, squeezed between the Administration's official free-trade position and tens of thousands of angry union members, a constituency that he knows will be crucial to his presidential aspirations, took a slightly more tactful position. Gore declared that the quotas would be... unnecessary. The latest numbers show that the import surge is abating, said Gore, and as for the ten thousand steelworkers who have been already laid off, the Administration proposes tax breaks for the firms hardest hit, along with a little federal aid for the communities which have suffered most. For any remaining gross imbalances between domestic and foreign steel, the Commerce Department will aggressively pursue negotiations with the offending countries and, if necessary, maybe impose some modest short-term tariffs. Actual quotas, however, remain out of the question. Free trade is and will remain the law of the land.

    Obviously, electioneering weighed heavily in Gore's choice of a softer tack. The cause of US steel has deep resonance with an American public anxious over globalization and its domestic consequences. In March, the House of Representatives actually allowed a version of the quota bill to sail through with a comfortable majority. Of course, the House bill's supporters included many Republicans who cynically promoted the measure only in hopes of driving another wedge between Gore and Labor. And indeed Gore may have a few amends to make with the Labor movement, which has not forgotten that it was Gore who served as the Administration's point man for passing NAFTA in 1993, by far the worst political defeat for Labor in more than a generation.

    So why does a Democratic hopeful risk losing key Labor support by ignoring the steelworkers? For that matter, how could both a Republican Senate and a Democratic Administration stay blind to the obvious national interest at stake in the security of a vital domestic industry? For how long does the political class imagine the American public will forgive official neglect of elementary economic priorities? Sure, everyone knows globalization involves political risk, but when did it become a bipartisan political death wish?

    Sooner or later, the ruling free trade orthodoxies must give way to the more sensible view put forward by the USWA and its supporters. When the cure for an international economic crisis cripples an otherwise leading industry in a major power, it cannot be said that things have returned to normal. Thanks to the Steelworkers' bold campaigning, thousands more people now realize what Washington has yet to imagine: that the world economy must be transformed by greater regulation and planning- and not only on behalf of capital.

    A Union Summer

    by Clifton Poole

    How It All Began

    According to the AFL-CIO, "We need to build a movement that empowers working people to address injustice in the workplace, community, and society at large." As a Young Democratic Socialist I couldn't agree more. So I continued to read the web page about Union Summer, the AFL-CIO's month-long summer internship in labor organizing. The web page further states that "Union Summer is a vehicle through which activists can exercise their commitment to social and economic justice through the labor movement."

    Of course the core of the AFL-CIO's intent is expressed in the last phrase, "through the labor movement". The primary goal of the program, as I came to understand it, is to expose socially conscious young people to the progressive labor movement as campus activism tends to revolve around identity politics or particular issues tangential to the labor movement such as environmentalism or peace.

    Union Summer is exposing young people to organized labor at a time when it is experiencing great change, and it is another goal of the program to make its participants aware of this change, to shatter their stereotypes of organized labor and to offer them the opportunity to participate in and shape the process of change which is ongoing in the labor movement. This is the secondary purpose of Union Summer: to identify, recruit, and begin training future members of the labor movement. Most obviously organizers, but the point was made to me more than once that there are many jobs in the labor movement, of which organizer is only one.

    Of course Union Summer interns are an active part of the process of change in the labor movement as well, whether they realize it initially or not. In the process of screening applicants for the internship, a concerted effort is made to bring in women, people of color, and people from diverse economic backgrounds. There were six women at my site and five men. The group ranged in age from 18 to 24 and was more than half Latino. It included a college graduate and recent graduates from high schools in South Central L.A.

    Interns are hosted by self-selecting union locals that are working on aggressive new organizing campaigns or mobilizing community-based campaigns around working-class agenda issues such as the living wage. Greater emphasis on new organizing, reconnecting organized labor to community-based issues and organizations, and mobilizing more grassroots political activity among rank-and-file members are, I learned, among the hallmarks of the new labor movement that is being created under John Sweeney. These changes are in response to the crisis of shrinking union membership and the ongoing Conservative assault on the right of workers to organize. They specifically address the right of working-class communities to decent jobs and a standard of living befitting human dignity.

    Another, perhaps unanticipated, effect of Union Summer has been the role that alumni have played in bringing labor activism to campuses. The Nation has noted that it was a group of Union Summer interns who had worked for UNITE then returned to their campuses that started the anti-sweatshop movement, which is the most active Left social movement on college campuses today.

    Organizers Make House Calls

    My site's campaign for the first three weeks was with SEIU Local 399, organizing a California-based chain of hospitals called Catholic Healthcare West (CHW). Strategically, the CHW campaign is a corporate campaign, in which the Catholic Church and the Catholic mission of the hospitals were major focus points to pressure the hospitals. The campaign is two years old, and while the company has agreed to an National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrated election, they have not agreed to a proposed set of ground rules for a fair election put forth by the union. Intimidation and harassment have been rampant throughout the campaign (there are over 50 separate charges of Unfair Labor Practices pending in connection to the campaign) and Local 399 and many CHW workers feel that the environment in the hospitals, as it is, will not allow a fair election unless enforceable ground rules to curb illegal abuses by management are in place.

    Catholic Healthcare West is a non-profit, Catholic hospital system, and part of its stated mission is a commitment to care for the poor. However, as the chain has come under increasingly corporate-style management and expanded its holdings from eight to forty-eight hospitals in less than ten years, the resources it has dedicated to the provision of charity care (defined as free or discounted services provided to uninsured or underinsured patients) has declined. As a non-profit entity, CHW gets millions of dollars worth of tax breaks, yet it further burdens the public sector by transferring patients who are unable to pay to already overcrowded county hospitals rather than providing them with charity care. Despite its mission statement, CHW's level of spending on charity care is lower than the average among for-profit hospitals.

    The first task of the interns and the staff who worked with us was to interview patients of the hospitals. We documented this trend, finding patients willing to give personal testimonies regarding denial of charity care and related issues by going into county hospital waiting rooms, neighborhood clinics, and DPSS offices and interviewing people.

    Besides being an issue of great importance to low-income communities in Los Angeles, a city with a rapidly growing population of uninsured persons (32% of Los Angeles County is uninsured and 50,000 more Californians a month become uninsured), charity care is also a sensitive issue for CHW because it is near the heart of a debate within the Catholic church about the nature of Catholic hospitals. The same corporate approach to managing the hospitals by focusing on the bottom line that is exacerbating the crisis of the uninsured in Southern California by eroding charity care funding at CHW facilities also affects the quality of care in the hospitals in other ways which could be directly addressed by unionization, such as short staffing, and inadequate or inefficiently distributed supplies for nurses. The management's focus on the bottom line and pursuit of an aggressive growth strategy also seems to be fueling its opposition to the union.

    In addition to conducting the patient surveys, interns also rode along with organizers on house visits to workers from the hospitals. We visited workers who had previously been identified as either undecided (after two years) or anti-union. At the time, the company had recently agreed to a tentative election date but had not agreed to the fair ground rules for the election proposed by the union. We were visiting the workers to try to get them to sign a petition to management demanding that they agree to the ground rules proposal. The company claimed that the NLRB election process would be fair and did not require additional "special" rules. The union had already stated that it would not petition for an election without such ground rules.

    Fair Elections or None

    The union's fair election conditions were as follows: that CHW fire the anti-union consultants it had hired (these are special legal consultants who are paid about $200 per hour to produce anti-union literature, and train management on how to dissuade employees from voting for the union); that they allow union organizers access to employees in common areas of the hospital during break times; that they agree to cease illegal intimidation tactics including following employees and requiring one on one meetings with management to discuss the union, and agree to a process by which such abuses could be remedied in a timely manner before the election if they continued; that they agree to negotiate a contract within 90 days after the election if the union won.

    The issue of timely process for unfair labor practices is of particular concern to the union because appeals to the NLRB take 18 months to 2 years to be heard and decided. Thus management has free reign to harass employees during elections and faces no consequences or restrictions until the election is long over and the damage is done. However, while unions often lose, or win by very narrow margins (which leaves them in a weaker bargaining position in contract negotiations), under standard NLRB process, when elections take place with mechanisms for enforcing fair conditions, unions win overwhelmingly. (See November - December, 1995, New Ground, Page 1: "The Quick Vote") Such was the case at CHW facilities in San Francisco, where management agreed to a similar SEIU proposal for fair election ground rules.

    Another tactic unions have adopted for avoiding the problems associated with NLRB elections is to get the company to agree to a community supervised election, which is administered by clergy or other respected third parties from the community, and which can also have more effective enforcement of fair election standards. SEIU Local 1877, which is trying to organize security and special services workers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) right now, has adopted this tactic.

    Doing the house visits we spent a lot of time driving around to places where the workers either were not home, refused to come to the door or slammed the door in our faces. We did talk to a few people though, and even got a couple of signatures. I also had the chance to talk to the organizers and discovered that many of them are socialists too (although we never talked to the workers about socialism during the house visits).

    Our work for the union also included phonebanking to mobilize members for a rally at one of the CHW hospitals, and attending the Jubilee Justice Conference, a Catholic conference on social justice, to talk to people there about the issue of workers organizing in Catholic hospitals. SEIU, and many lay people and priests in the Catholic Church believe that Catholic social teachings on the subject of worker organizing are clear: workers have the right to organize, and the church and its institutions should respect and encourage the exercising of that right.

    The last week I walked terminals and talked to workers at LAX with a very dynamic international SEIU organizer who was working with Local 1877 on their campaign to organize security and other airport workers employed by Argenbright Security. Although I only spent a short time working on that campaign, I felt that I learned a lot about how to talk to workers about their issues in the workplace and about unions.

    A Union Summer Education

    The Union Summer program also involved educational components. We had speakers on topics such as the stages of an organizing campaign, and the role of unions in politics, attended a stewards training session and a stewards meeting, participated in a collective bargaining simulation, and spent a day at the LA County Federation of Labor, where the President, the Organizing Director, and the Mobilization Director all spoke to us about current trends and strategies in their respective areas of responsibility.

    The mobilization director was particularly interesting. Before getting hired at the LA County Federation, she worked on the Justice for Janitors campaign in Washington, DC, and was instrumental in the strategy of shutting down the bridges into the city, which eventually won the union's demands. She gave us a training on non-violent civil disobedience and direct action tactics. The new labor movement being created under the leadership of John Sweeney is, as a whole, reexamining and utilizing such tactics more often than has been common in the recent history of organized labor.

    Finally, we learned a lot about the history of the United Farm Workers because much of the leadership of the SEIU and the County Fed in L.A. is made up of people who came in to the labor movement as farm workers when they were organized by Caesar Chavez. Eliseo Medina, the Western Regional Vice President of the SEIU, and Miguel Contreras, the President of the County Fed both told us inspirational accounts of their early experiences with the UFW.

    We also had the opportunity to hear Dolores Huerta speak at the rally at St. Francis and to have lunch with her afterwards where we heard the story of how she and Caesar were first organized themselves.

    The last weekend of the internship, we drove up to La Paz, the headquarters of the UFW where Caesar Chavez is buried. There we saw the various memorials, to Caesar and to the martyrs of the union that died on the picket line. We heard the leadership of the UFW talk about what their strategies and battles are today.


    Overall, Union Summer was a great experience. It was both challenging and very rewarding to work with such a diverse group of interns under such intense circumstances (eleven people in three two-bedroom apartments, working six days a week, often ten hours a day). I learned a lot about how unions work and the challenges they face: from the law, to employer resistance, to the general ignorance of the public about unions, and the recent history of complacency and corruption within the unions themselves.

    Most importantly though, I learned what organizing really is and why it is so vitally important to unions and to any popularly based organization or social movement. Organizing is the face to face, person by person process of convincing people to believe that they can change something and make their life and their community better through collective action. Then working with them to execute that action in such a way that it both accomplishes some concrete improvement and builds the skills, faith and confidence of the people you involve to do it again, and organize more people. Organizing is more listening than talking. You have to start from where the individual is and build to what you are saying from what they are saying in a way that will make sense to them and be relevant to them.

    It's difficult, and it's not for everyone, but I believe that continually organizing is the only way that unions, or any other group that tries to build social movements, can survive.


    Special thanks to the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and others for their generous support which made my participation in Union Summer possible.

    Toward a Community Worthy of Our Democratic Aspirations:

    Chicago's Living Wage Victory

    By Angela West Blank

    A basic tenet of democracy is every person's right to earn a decent wage, a living wage. Another is the right to share in the creation and control of a sustainable economy. But democracy doesn't work in isolation. And just as a U.S.-driven and dominated laissez-faire policy has failed to produce a just economy, no invisible hand has appeared on the horizon to wave equality forward. True democracy requires a viable strategy, a people-centered process of building community from the bottom up.

    This brand of democracy based upon the idea that ordinary people can organize to accomplish extraordinary things is the philosophy embraced by the New Party. With the New Party's recent Living Wage Campaign in Chicago, these beliefs were put into action.

    Democracy from the Roots

    On July 29, 1998, an ordinance requiring firms receiving city contracts or subsidies to pay their employees $7.60 per hour, enough to bring a family of four above the poverty level, was approved by Chicago's City Council. In September of that same year, the Cook County Board passed a similar ordinance binding at the county level. (See September - October, 1998, New Ground #60, Page 7, "A Living Wage: It's the Law!")

    As with most progressive campaigns addressing the needs of working-class employees and their families, victory did not come easily. It took two years of protest, political shrewdness and the coordinated persistence of the Chicago New Party, ACORN, the SEIU State Council, SEIU Local 880, Teamsters Local 705, UFCW Local 881, IBEW Local 134, AFSCME, UNITE and many others, including Chicago DSA.

    Not only did this collaboration successfully defeat a grossly inadequate minimum wage salary of $4.25 per hour, the lowest real adjusted level in 40 years, but it also prevented "privatization" or labor contracted out by city and county government from being used as a smokescreen to lower the standard of living for working-class public employees, many of whom work in a growing U.S.-based service sector.

    The Living Wage Ordinance, first introduced in May of 1996, was originally rejected by City Council, but received a jumpstart from a proposed aldermanic pay hike from $75,000 to $88,6000 and expense allowance increase scheduled to go into effect in 1999. The aldermanic pay vote, which included a pay raise for the mayor, city clerk and city treasurer, was to take place on the one-year anniversary of the Council's refusal to approve the initial legislation.

    Of the pay raise, Ted Thomas, former New Party Chair, ACORN President and recently elected 15th Ward Alderman, told reporters in the July 29, 1998, issue of the Chicago Defender, "Raising your pay without passing a living wage is a slap in the face to low-income Chicagoans. We're not here to say that aldermen shouldn't get a raise, but we don't raise our own pay without raising the minimum wage for thousands of families in our cities. Chicago needs a living wage."

    Thomas also vowed that the Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign coalition of local unions, religious, community and political organizations would target council members who approved the pay increase but opposed the Living Wage Ordinance. Alternative, New Party-backed candidates would also be fielded against anti-living wage incumbents.

    Driving the opposition to the ordinance was Mayor Daley, whose own salary was slated to increase from $115,000 to $170,000 under the aldermanic pay raise legislation. According to Daley and high-profile ally Chicago Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper, a living wage bill in Chicago was bad for business and could drive companies across the border to states without a similar ordinance.

    In response, the New Party and its organized contingent of Living Wage Ordinance advocates outmaneuvered the opposition. On Tuesday, July 28, the eve of the City Council vote on the pay increase, members of the Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign staged a City Hall news conference to propose tying the pay raise to a guarantee that employees of businesses with city contracts earn an $7.60 per hour living wage.

    The news conference came on the heels of, and benefited from, the momentum of a summer ballot initiative campaign. The campaign was led by the Chicago New Party and included volunteers from Cynthia Soto's and Willie Delgado's organizations. The ballot initiative garnered in excess of 12,000 signatures in five targeted city wards. Over 200 people were organized to participate in the effort.

    In the end, the strong grassroots effort of committed activists and organizations won the day. On July 29th, the City Council approved the proposed amended legislation, passing both the Chicago Living Wage Ordinance and the aldermanic pay increase. When the subsequent county ordinance was passed in September, Cook County became the largest jurisdiction to pass a living wage ordinance. Meanwhile, in cities such as Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Boston, the New Party continues to win victories for working-class families through its Living Wage Campaign.

    The Future

    Currently, in Chicago, the New Party is looking toward implementing a strategic plan to elect progressive grassroots candidates to office, candidates that will support and maintain the living wage legislation. This battle, like the struggle for a living wage in Chicago, won't be easy but is definitely worth fighting.

    The New Party's Ted Thomas sums it up well, saying, "Anytime a grassroots candidate goes up against the machine it's a hard road. But that's what needs to be done if we're going to have a city government that actually cares about issues like affordable housing, public transportation and education."

    It's what is needed to achieve a government that's truly by the people and for the people, a government that's worthy of our democratic aspirations.

    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman


    Chicago DSA is back on the web with our own domain name, no less. John DeWaal is the webmaster, and we owe him no little appreciation for his creative efforts and his initiative in getting this project off the ground. The web task force consists of John DeWaal, Ben Doherty, Will Kelley, Bob Roman and Donn Schneider.

    Come and visit! The site still has some rough edges, and we'd appreciate your comments, ideas and observations. We also need your help. We're looking for links. Send us your favorite Chicago and Illinois political sites from your personal bookmarks, along with a brief description of what they are. If you have your own, personal web site, make a link to the Chicago DSA site and send us your address so that we may link back to yours. Together, we build a site that will provide visitors with a complete political education.


    Challenging Corporate Globalization

    The Preamble Center, a Washington, DC, research and organizing center, is planning a national conference to coordinate strategies against the World Trade Organization. The conference will be held in Chicago at the Midland Hotel in downtown Chicago from Friday November 12 through Sunday, November 14.

    The conference hopes to create an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual support for strategy discussions. The intent is to not only fulfill a need for effective coordinations of strategies, but to develop a process of evolution from individual campaigns to a strong social and political movement. The conference will also premier a new video produced by the Preamble Center, "Global Village or Global Pillage?". Participants will be given a copy of the video.

    There is a conference fee of $75. For more information, call the Preamble Center at (202)265-3263, email wep@preamble.org or go to www.preamble.org.


    Stop the WTO

    The World Trade Organization will be meeting in Seattle this fall, from November 30 through December 1. Demonstrations and educational events are being planned for all three days. Some people are going there for the whole time, but others are going just for the demonstration on November 30. This could be huge.

    The Illinois Fair Trade Campaign has been asked by the Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign to join them in chartering a plane to Seattle. Their plan is to fly from Milwaukee to Seattle on the 30th to participate in the demonstration and return the same evening. If they can get 100 or more people to participate, they can get the fare down to about $400. If you'd like to go, email Tom Gradel at GradelPeterson@compuserve.com or call Tom at (773)561-1040.

    For more information about the WTO and the Seattle protests, call People for Fair Trade at (877)STOPWTO, or go to www.tradewatch.org, www.peopleforfairtrad.org or www.seattlewto.org. While no specific plans have been made yet, watch for events here in Chicago, too.


    Healthcare Rising

    Like a slowly building fever, the demand for a national health care system is slowly coming back on the national agenda. The Gray Panthers and UHCAN! are each holding their national conferences in Washington, DC, on the weekend of October 22-24. Together with the National Council of Churches and a host of other allies, they're planning a demonstration for a universal health care system on October 22. They're pledging that the 2000 elections will demand of candidates just such a system: "U2K"! For more information, go to www.graypathers.org or www.uhcan.org.

    Subsequently there will be demonstrations held in cities across the country. In Chicago, the plan is to have a downtown march and rally at the Federal plaza, Dearborn and Adams, at Noon on Tuesday, November 9.

    For the more policy oriented, the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group is holding a conference on "Medicare and State Health Reform" on Friday, October 1 at the Chicago Illini Union on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. There is a fee for this conference and preregistration is encouraged. For more information, go to www.HMPRG.org or call (312)922-8057.

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