by Bob Roman
The campaign to protect Social Security got off to an auspicious
start in Illinois with a demonstration outside the Charles Schwab
brokerage offices on South Wacker Drive. Schwab was targeted as
they are one of the players in the effort to privatize Social
Security. The AFL-CIO in particular has been putting public pressure
on the financial services industry and has had some success in
neutralizing specific firms. For example the investment firm of
Waddell & Reed recently announced it left the pro-privatization
Alliance for Worker Retirement Security (AWRS) after activists
prepared to demonstrate outside its Kansas office. Charles Schwab
belongs to the AWRS. More recently, the Financial Services Forum,
made up of CEOs of big finance companies, dropped out of Compass,
the group leading financial industry support for President Bush's
plan to privatize Social Security. Some 90 people participated
in this Valentine's Day noon-hour informational picket, including
a delegation from UNITE HERE. It was particularly gratifying that
a number of passersby stopped to join the line.
Immediately after the picket, an organizing meeting was held
at the AFSCME Council 31 office. In the month that has followed,
Illinois United to Preserve Social Security (IUPSS) has grown
to about a hundred organizations from around the state. IUPSS
is defending Social Security on several "fronts".
One is, of course, Congress. A number of Representatives have
held town hall meetings, and IUPSS supporters have pressured others
to do so. (You are invited to call your Representative to ask
about them holding a meeting on the issue.) Two in particular
have been helpful to the cause. Representative Lane Evans held
several meetings around his district, using them as an educational
tool, teaching why Social Security is not in "crisis".
Representative Jan Schakowsky also organized a similar meeting
on the Loyola University Water Tower Campus at the end of February.
This featured a very good PowerPoint presentation and appearances
by Senators Durbin and Obama. An overflow crowd of several hundred
attended. Representatives Lipinski and Rush have also held meetings.
IUPSS is encouraging people to call their Representatives in support
of maintaining Social Security, and a few downstate Republicans
have been getting a steady flow of three or four dozen calls a
Thursday, March 31 will be a "National Day of Action for
Retirement Security". Here in Chicago, the Chicago Federation
of Labor and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans are planning
a noon hour demonstration outside the offices of Charles Schwab
at 150 S. Wacker Drive in Chicago, again, because the brokerage
has refused to budge. Invited speakers (not yet confirmed) include
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama and U.S. Congresswoman
Jan Schakowsky and U.S. Congressman Rahm Emanuel.
An April 2nd demonstration outside the Batavia offices of Representative
Hastert is also in the works, and IUPSS hopes to bring several
hundred, qualifying it as a major uprising by west suburban standards.
Busses will be coming from several locations, including Chicago.
A resolution, HR128, has been introduced in the Illinois legislature,
opposing Social Security privatization. It can be modified for
other governmental bodies, and introducing it to the Chicago City
Council is a possibility.
The media is another "battle ground". Some of this
effort has taken the form of multiple rounds of press conferences
in the various "media markets" around the state. Illinois
Alliance for Retired Americans President Hal Gullett has been
a common denominator among them. While turnout has not been great
at all of them, each has resulted in at least some press.
But the major field of struggle is simply public opinion. Because
of our republican structure of government, public opinion is often
a secondary or even tertiary consideration in politics. But in
this instance, players on both sides of the question are judging
the viability of Bush's attack by changes in polling figures.
So far, we're winning.
The fight is far from decided. The Right is in the process
of raising $200 million to support their attack. Those defending
Social Security have already hired a political consulting firm
to manage the campaign. The intent is to have each Congressional
District have an organizer, and a small staff (including PR person)
for each state.
This is a fight we can win. And should we win, could it be
the beginning of the end of conservative rule in America? One
might hope so.
by Ramblin Rose Myer
I have lost a dear friend, but the world has last a true hero.
On Thursday, January 6, 2005, Charles Hall died of pneumonia in
Loyola University Medical Center. Many friends, fellow workers
and social activists knew him aas his wife, Yolanda "Bobby"
Hall, described him: "a quiet, unassuming man with very firm
beliefs and principles." And those of us who were closest
to him knew as his son Chas was quoted: "He felt he was doing
what his conscience dictated he should do. He never thought of
it being noble or heroic."
When he moved from Indiana to Chicago in his early youth, his
political conscience greatly developed. At the age of 23 he joined
the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and went to fight fascism in Spain.
He was captured and served 13 months in a Spanish prison. He was
released in a prisoner exchange program and he returned to the
United States shortly before he enlisted after Pearl Harbor and
rose to the rank of Captain.
While he pursued his education, receiving his degree as a mechanical
engineer, he continued to be an activist in the labor and civil
rights movements and was an active participant in peace marches
in opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam and in opposition
to the current Iraqi invasion.
Chuck, as he was affectionately called, received many awards,
including one given for his contributions from the Working Women's
History Project and another from the Chicago History Fair. He
truly believed that "History Matters".
In his last years, while not in the best of health, he continued
to speak out at university and community events. His final activity
was meeting with a group of teenagers from Curie High School in
Chicago as they researched, wrote and enacted the history of the
Spanish Civil War.
Now that is some kind of hero and a worthy model for any age.
There will be a celebration of Chuck's life on Sunday, April
3, at 2 PM at the Oak Park Public Library, 843 Lake Street in
Editor's Note: This article appeared originally in Working
Women's Stories, the newsletter of the Working Womens History
Project. For more information, go to http://workingwomen.homestead.com.
The Health Care Justice Act passed and signed last year in
Illinois (see New Ground 97,
92 and 90)
mandated the creation of a task force whose task it is to draft
recommended legislation for health care reform in Illinois. The
legislation is to "insure that all residents have access
to quality health care at costs that are affordable." Between
now and November, the task force is to hold hearings in each Illinois
Congressional District and commission research to further inform
the work of the task force. If things go well, the Illinois General
Assembly is to act on the recommendations by the end of 2006.
As part of the effort to get legislation that ensures "everybody
in, nobody out", the Campaign for Better Health Care is organizing
in every Congressional District. There is already ongoing activity
in Districts 1, 2, 4, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 18. Meetings are scheduled
in 7, 16, and 19. A boilerplate resolution is available for local
units of government to use to demonstrate support for both the
process and outcome. A video documenting the efforts toward a
comprehensive health care plan in Illinois has been produced by
America's Agenda: Health Care for All.
The Governor and the majority and minority leaders of both
the House and the Senate are given appointments to the task force.
As of the end of February and somewhat behind schedule, nearly
all the appointments had been made. Three more appointments are
outstanding, but about half of the 26 current appointees have
worked with the Campaign for Better Health Care.
The work facing the task force is not going to be easy. Some
of it involves politics beyond the immediate responsibility of
the task force, particularly the ongoing cowardice of Blagojevich
and General Assembly Democrats in dealing with the issue of taxes.
But the Health Care Justice Act represents our best current opportunity
to make a major difference in the lives of the majority. To learn
how you might help, contact the Campaign
for Better Health Care: 312.913.9449 or 217.352.5600.
House Democrats Appointments: Dr. Arthur G. Jones
- CEO Lawndale Christian Health Center - Chicago; Dr. Anthony
Barbato - River Forest; Dr. Joseph Orthoefer - Rockford;
David Koehler - Peoria Labor-Management Council; Ken
Boyd - Chicago - President UFCW Local 1546; Wayne Lerner
- President & CEO Rehabilitation Institute of Illinois - Chicago.
House Republicans Appointments: Ken Robbins - President
of Illinois Hospital Association - Naperville; Joe Roberts
- Insurance representative / agent - Sandwich; Mike Murphy
- Lobbyists from UNICARE (Wellpoint Company) - Springfield; St.
Rep. Elizabeth Coulson (R-17) Glenview; Dr. Craig Bakes
- ISMS - Chicago. Senate Democrats Appointments: Senator
Trotter - (D-17) Chicago; Senator Martinez - (D-20)
Chicago; Margaret Davis - Dir Healthcare Consortium of
Illinois - Chicago; Collen Kennedy - President St. Francis
Blue Island Hospital - Blue Island; Quentin Young - PNHP,
HMPRG, CBHC - Chicago; Robyn Gabel - Dir. Illinois Maternal
and Child Health Coalition - Chicago. Senate Republican Appointments:
Gregory S. Smith - Group Marketing Services, Inc. -
Lincoln; Catherine Bresler - Morton Grove; James M.
Moore - CEO OSF Healthcare System - Peoria; Pamela D. Mitroff
- Wheaton ; Kenneth Smithmier - Decatur Memorial Hospital
- Decatur. Governor Blagojevich's Appointments: Jim
Duffett - Campaign for Better Health Care - Urbana; Jan
Daker - United Congregations of Metro-East - Belleville; Tim
Carrigan - staff nurse at University of Illinois Medical Center
in Chicago (son of Michael Carrigan); Niva Lubin-Johnson
- Prairie Medical Society - Chicago.
by Tom Broderick,
"Inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the
ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent
with the ideals of the generation which established our government."
So spoke former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President during
the period known as the New Deal.
Today we are once again in an era of the sweet deal for some
and the raw deal for many. Wealth creates power, and the powerful,
with their sycophants, protect wealth. Inherited wealth produces
inherited power and we must hold it accountable to the greater
good of the community. The community I refer to is those who must
work for a living and those who can't find work that pays a living
The Emergency Revenue Act of 1916 included the first Federal
estate tax in the United States. It was passed by Congress as
our Government prepared to enter World War I. The idea was that
those who inherited wealth would pay a portion of their gain to
society. This would prove a burden that the moneyed would rather
It took time, but accumulation of wealth and power was at stake.
A change in the name proved the right touch. The "Death Tax"
was invented. The tax on the transfer of great wealth became unsavory.
We were taking advantage of those suffering a death in the family
by taxing them at a time of loss. This is a hoax. The Economic
Policy Institute estimates that approximately 2% of those who
die leave estates that are taxed. The Estate Tax is on increased
wealth, not death. We all die, we don't all leave estates.
Another fabrication: heirs are forced to sell family businesses
or farms to pay estate taxes. William Gale and Joel Slemrod, of
the Brookings Institution, tell us that 0.2% of estates include
small businesses or farms. Heirs of these estates, when they are
in excess of $2 million, can pay the taxes in installments over
14 years. This is not hardship. Any attempt to avoid paying taxes
on this financial gain is nose-thumbing greed.
When possible, you can be sure that those with wealth and power
will shift financial and corporal risk to the rest of us. Our
Congress passed, and President Bush signed a bill that phases
out the Estate Tax by 2010. In 2011, it will reappear unless the
well-to-do succeed in their effort to have it permanently repealed.
Let's reclaim the name of this tax: The Responsible Wealth Tax.
Then let's fully impose it.
Now to what I call the Extermination Tax. This is the financial
burden placed upon communities when State Prosecutors decide to
pursue execution in criminal cases. There are finite and increasingly
fewer dollars available to every taxing body. Community revenue
is hijacked when there is a decision to seek execution.
In 2000, the Illinois General Assembly created the Capital
Litigation Trust Fund to lower the risk of wrongful convictions.
Since the death penalty was re-established in Illinois, eighteen
condemned men have been exonerated of the crimes that put them
on the road to extermination. Twelve others have been executed.
With that record, and the fact that we are talking about putting
fellow humans to death, the Fund is quite a reasonable safeguard.
In theory, no one ends up facing execution without all possible
doubts of innocence convincingly squashed. Reality proves otherwise.
Here are some costs associated with the pursuit of execution
in Illinois. In 2003, we spent about $383,000 to condemn Anthony
Mertz to death. We spent $321,000 to put Cutis Thompson on death
row. This money comes from our tax base, and is only part of what
we spend in the effort to execute. The Fund only pays for special
expenses not generally available to local governments. State's
Attorney salaries are paid out of county tax dollars. These attorneys
can employ local, state and federal law enforcement in their cases,
covering the costs from local revenue.
There's more. The State Attorney General and State's Attorney's
Appellate Prosecutor often contribute in the effort to eliminate
a life. Their salaries and costs are paid by us. We pay for Public
Defenders. In most capital punishment cases, the defense is a
Public Defender. It is nearly unheard of that some Caucasian Of
Wealth faces the death penalty. Henry Kissinger and several among
the Bush thuggery do come to mind as candidates for war crimes,
past and present.
To protect against wrongful execution, there is a mandated
appeals process. The figure for these appeals is pegged at $600,000
higher than for non-capital murder cases. This is per case, so
the more we condemn the more we pay.
Post-trial costs for Anthony Mertz and Curtis Thompson are
estimated to exceed $3 million. Mr. Mertz and Mr. Thompson are
the only people that the State of Illinois sentenced to death
in 2003. In 2004, an additional four were sent to the Condemned
Unit at the Pontiac Correctional Facility in Pontiac, Illinois.
The death penalty costs us far more than a sentence of life in
prison without possibility of parole. The Illinois Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty estimates that the cost to try, convict
and sentence someone to life in prison is between one third and
one half the amount we spend in the drive to exact revenge through
snuffing out a life.
We're not done spending. Many of those who have been found
innocent of the crime(s) for which they were condemned have successfully
sued Illinois for recompense. In 2001, Cook County paid $36 million
to settle just four wrongful convictions. In January, a jury awarded
$6,581,100 to a former Chicago police officer who spent eight
years on death row. The jury found that the Federal Bureau of
Investigation had framed him.
To save dollars, we could cut the money we provide defendants.
Would any of the eighteen men, or their families and friends,
exonerated in Illinois since we started killing prisoners again
in 1976 consider this responsible. I can't. We spend a great deal
of money to inject toxins into a person, proclaiming justice.
This is the death tax and it goes beyond economics.
This country is deep in debt and we got here by throwing more
than $2 billion into a war of empire while providing absurd tax
relief to those in the money. Progressive taxation, including
the Estate Tax, was introduced as a just way to fund government,
and therefore, the greater community. Everyone benefited. Today
we are being bled by policies that benefit few and harm many.
We have de-funded public education, eliminated affordable housing,
and cut job training programs, unless you feel military service
adequately provides these. We have privatized necessary utilities,
denied the right of healthcare and good nutrition and slashed
money for the arts and culture.
Baron Frankenstein would be shocked by our rampage of destruction.
He tried to create life from death. We suffer from policies that
destroy life by eliminating programs and tax structures that benefit
the poor, those who work as well as those who don't: the retired
and the rejected/dejected. These same policies deform life by
robbing those who are working and trying to make a go of it, by
offering costly healthcare, insufficient education opportunities
and self funded retirement. Bad decisions are being made about
the use our tax revenue, with no accountability.
Witness the response of the press as mergers and acquisitions
take place. The press celebrates the bottom line, counting job
elimination and payroll reduction as plusses. What's the plus?
If you want to guarantee an expanded penal system that has no
claim on justice, this is the road. We deserve a society that
values the human being over financial gain.
The current Bush line on society is "ownership."
Trash talk. Bush and his Greed Gang are selling privatization
as an idea that will make us masters of our individual futures,
rather than victims of a philosophy myopically focussed on the
maximization of profit. The goal: enrich the well-heeled while
we kill the poor and savage the lives and dreams of workers. Target
de jour: Social Security. Stone Soup anyone?
Sources: United for
a Fair Economy (www.faireconomy.org); Economic
Policy Institute (www.epinet.org); Illinois
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (www.icadp.org).
As New Ground goes to press, the House and the Senate
Budget Committees were in the process of marking up their budget
resolutions. By the time you read this, it is possible that one
or both houses will have passed resolutions. Both proposed budgets
reflect priorities starkly out of touch with the lives of ordinary
Americans. Overall, the proposed budgets would deeply cut critical
public investments at the same time as they give more tax breaks
to the wealthy and swell federal deficits.
The House committee-passed budget would cut domestic discretionary
spending by $216,000,000,000 over the next five years, and the
Senate committee-passed budget would cut domestic discretionary
spending by $207,000,000,000 over the same period. This would
amount to average cuts in public services such as education, community
development, veterans' benefits, and environmental protection
of 13 to 14 percent in 2010. The House resolution does not include
multi-year caps on discretionary spending, but the Senate resolution
does include 3-year caps.
Both the House and Senate budget resolutions would deeply cut
entitlement programs: by $67,000,000,000 and $38,000,000,000,
respectively. Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit
and other low-income programs would likely face the deepest cuts.
Moreover, both budgets include reconciliation instructions for
a portion of these cuts. These reconciliation instructions would
facilitate passage of the cuts by preventing them from being filibustered
in the Senate, thus allowing them to pass with only 51 votes.
The Senate budget also includes a new budget rule that could
harm entitlement programs beyond the cuts called for in the resolution.
This rule would require any legislation that increased entitlement
spending by more than $5,000,000,000 over any 10-year period between
2015 and 2055 to overcome a 60-vote point of order in the Senate.
This new budget process rule would not in any way restrict enactment
of new tax cuts that increase the deficit. This is a prescription
for permanent irresponsible, unresponsive government. California
has similar "super majority" rules written into aspects
of its budgeting process; consider the state of their finances
While using the massive federal deficits largely caused by
the reckless tax cuts of the last four years to justify the above-mentioned
deep cuts in public investments, the Bush Administration and its
allies are continuing to push for even more unpaid-for tax cuts.
Indeed, both the House and Senate budget resolutions call for
more tax cuts: $106,000,000,000 and $71,000,000,000, respectively.
Moreover, the budgets include separate reconciliation instructions
for a portion of these tax cuts ($45,000,000,000 in the House
resolution and $70,000,000,000 in the Senate resolution), which
would protect these tax cuts from filibuster and non-germane amendments
and would allow them to pass the Senate with a simple 51-vote
majority. This would not be the first time that reconciliation,
a process designed for deficit reduction, would be exploited to
pass unpaid-for tax cuts.
The cornerstone of these tax cuts is the extension of the 2003
dividends and capital gains tax cuts, which are set to expire
in 2008. At a cost of $23,000,000,000 between 2006 and 2010, nearly
one-half of these tax cuts would go to millionaires and nearly
three-quarters would go to the top 3.1 percent of households making
more than $200,000 annually. Both resolutions also include a one-year
Alternative Minimum Tax fix but exclude the virtually guaranteed
costs of a similar fix in subsequent years.
While Blagojevich cowers at the word "taxes", finances
have hit the fan all across the state, especially in public education
and public transit. This has inspired Senators James T. Meeks,
Miguel del Valle, and Kwame Raoul and Representatives David E.
Miller, John A. Fritchey, and William Davis to introduce SB/HB
750. This bill is primarily intended to provide property tax relief
and to provide adequate funding for education on a sustainable
basis. It would increase the state income tax rate to 5% and the
corporate income tax rate to 8% while providing deductions so
that the bottom 60% of individual income tax payers would pay
no additional income tax and sometimes less. It would expand the
sales tax to cover some services not presently covered, and close
some corporate tax loopholes. All this would generate an estimated
$7,200,000,000. Of that gross, $2,400,000,000 would be used for
property tax relief. Another $1,500,000,000 would be used to eliminate
the State's ongoing budget deficit that the Governor has been
filling by juggling books. However, the bill's primary focus is
education. SB/HB 750 would increase the state's "Foundation
level" per pupil support from $4964 to $6092 and is some
additional money available for higher education. It also reforms
the way education expenses are appropriated so that the State's
habitual under funding of mandated services would cease.
SB/HB 750 has inspired considerable grassroots support. SEIU
in particular has made it a legislative priority.
Illinois' fiscal condition is so bad that the Republicans have
actually come up with a counter offer, SB 1484, introduced by
Senator Rick Winkel, Jr. The bill is a stripped down version of
SB/HB 750, sans tax relief for lower income taxpayers and without
reforms in how education funds are appropriated, among other things.
This has not stopped the libertarian right from foaming at
the mouth at the prospect of either bill. To these ideologues,
there is no funding crisis in public education that increased
"accountability" and "efficiency" wouldn't
solve. They make such a noise, like a pack of nasty little dogs,
that one can almost forgive Blagojevich his shyness.
Editor's note: the material regarding the Federal Budget
is from the Fair Taxes
for All Coalition, of which Chicago DSA is a member. For more
information, go to http://www.fairtaxes4all.org. Information about
SB/HB 750 is available from the Illinois
General Assembly, http://www.ilga.gov, and from the Center
for Tax and Budget Accountability, http://www.ctbaonline.org.
by Jorge Mújica
Mexicans abroad advanced one step further in their long struggle
to be able to cast their votes from outside their country. (See
New Ground 95, 90,
85 and 84.)
After months of delay, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, equivalent
of the US House of Representatives, voted in favor of regulating
The right to vote from abroad was approved in 1988, but the
mechanism to cast such votes was never implemented, nullifying
in reality the rights written in the books.
But the February 22nd vote in favor by 391 Deputies (only 5
voted against and 22 abstained) does not represent a victory.
The bill still has to be approved in the Senate, and such approval
does not seem easy. The first reaction of several Senators affiliated
with Vicente Fox's National Action Party, stated that the approval,
while urgent, should not be rushed. Diego Fernandez de Cevallos,
PAN leader in the Senate, stated that "we can not run the
risk of losing what we have being able to advance in México
in terms of transparency and security in the process of voting."
His colleague, Senate Vice President César Jáuregui
went even further: "This issue should not become a conflict.
Maybe it will be better to implement the vote from abroad in 2009."
Evidently Jáuregui does not even know the content of the
bill approved by the Diputados, which only allows for Mexicans
abroad to vote in presidential elections, which will not happen
in 2009 but in 2012.
Even the leader of the leftist PRD in the Senate, Jesús
Ortega, said, "the issue should be examined under a magnifying
glass, specially those aspects related to public financing."
PRI Senator Silvia Hernández expressed her doubts about
financing the "infrastructure of implementing the vote from
abroad. I still don't see any good source for the money to pay
for the expense." According to the IFE, voting from abroad
could cost anything from 700 million to 3 billion dollars.
If approved by the Senate, up to 11 million Mexicans in the
United States would have the right to cast their vote. That does
not necessarily means they will be able to do it. The bill establishes
the opening of "voting centers" for as many as 15,000
Mexican citizens, internally divided in polling places, one for
each 750 voters. It leaves the decision of where to open these
centers to the Federal Electoral Institute, IFE, giving only a
vague idea regarding "cities where there are more than 15,000
According to some activists, such centers could be opened in
30 to 35 cities across the United States, leaving millions of
Mexicans citizens far away from the actual place to cast their
vote. "While it would be possible to open voting centers
in Chicago and Indianapolis," they say, "up to half
a million Mexicans living between the two cities or alongside
the Mississippi would have to travel for up to eight hours to
get to a voting center."
Another issue is the lack of voting cards for Mexicans abroad.
The long history of electoral frauds in Mexico led to the creation
of a "super secure" voting card with 11 safety features,
including holograms and magnetic bands that make them difficult
to forge, but also difficult to obtain. In México, after
a citizen requests the card, there is a 60-day waiting period
until the card is issued. Only some 3 million Mexicans in the
United States have such credential.
While the bill allows for the issuance of credentials, it has
taken the 47 Mexican consulates in the United States four years
to issue less than three million Matrículas, the
popular Mexican ID for those living abroad. It is not likely that
the IFE would be able to issue millions of voting credentials
in less than a year.
Campaigning abroad is another sticky issue. The bill only allows
for campaign materials to be broadcast in "Mexican owned
companies with affiliated stations in the United States".
This eliminates Univision and Telemundo, the two Spanish language
TV chains, as well as most radio stations and even most of the
Spanish language newspapers.
In places like Los Angeles it is possible to listen to several
Mexican radio stations, but cities like Chicago would be completely
out of reach for any party seeking the votes of Mexicans.
All in all, even providing that the Senate approves the voting
mechanism for Mexicans abroad to participate in the 2006 presidential
elections, it is likely that only a couple million would be able
to cast their vote. That was exactly the difference between the
winner Vicente Fox in the 2000 election against the traditional
PRI candidate Francisco Labastida. Since the migrant's vote is
not likely to be a block in favor of any particular party, it
is also evident that their power will be diluted. In the end,
migrants would not be able to influence Mexican politics as they
After the current war on Iraq began, anti-war activists in
the labor movement gathered here in Chicago to form U.S. Labor
Against the War (USLAW). They've been pretty militant about making
sure participants in their organization are indeed union members
and organizations, not just some sectarian ideologues with pretensions.
And they've done a great deal of work in organizing and making
visible anti-war sentiment in the labor movement.
Their latest project is a petition to the AFL-CIO to take a
formal stand against the war. This will be something of an accomplishment
if it succeeds. It is an effort worth making, however, even if
it does not succeed.
DSA members and friends who are members of unions should consider
raising the issue with their union local. A model resolution is
available at http://uslaboragainstwar.org/article.php?id=7343.
If that is impractical or if it fails, union members can still
sign on as individuals. To do so, go to http://uslaboragainstwar.org/petition.php?pid=8.
For more information about USLAW and a list of its affiliates,
go to http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org.
Across the country, local, district, and national unions, labor
councils, state labor federations and numerous other labor organizations
representing millions of working people have adopted resolutions
condemning the war in Iraq, and calling for an end to the occupation
and return of all troops to their homes and families. Among these
are national unions like SEIU, AFSCME, CWA, APWU, NPMHU/LIUNA,
and UE; allied organizations like the Coalition of Labor Union
Women, Pride at Work and the Labor Council for Latin American
Advancement; State Labor Federations in California, Maryland/DC,
Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin; and fifteen or more labor councils
across the country.
110 of these organizations have banded together to form U.S.
Labor Against the War (USLAW), a national organization committed
to ending the war, returning the troops, restoring funding to
social programs and government services, and changing the direction
of U.S. foreign policy.
Union members and their family members are being killed, wounded,
disabled and psychologically traumatized in a war that has already
killed almost 1500 U.S. military personnel, wounded more than
10,500 others, a war in which more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians
have died. This war is siphoning resources from our communities,
starving or eliminating essential public services and social programs,
eroding our democratic rights, and making our country even less
It is time for labor to speak out! At this time of discussion
about renewing our labor movement, how can we not discuss the
most urgent issue facing American and its working families? We
ask you to put the issue of the war on the agenda of the up-coming
Executive Council meeting. And we urge the national leadership
of the AFL-CIO to oppose this reckless, illegal and immoral war.
More specifically, we ask for action on the following proposals
by the Executive Council and the quadrennial convention of the
· The AFL-CIO should demand an immediate end to the
US occupation of Iraq and return of U.S. troops to their homes
and families, and the reordering of national priorities toward
peace and meeting the human needs of our people; and
· Through its community service programs, the AFL-CIO
and its state and local affiliates should assist union members
and their families who are called upon to serve in the armed forces
and returning veterans by identifying and providing information
about resources and services available to meet their needs, by
advocating for their interests, and by protecting their jobs,
seniority and benefits and those of unorganized workers in similar
Sisters and brothers, this war is draining away precious resources
essential to meet human needs of working and poor people. It is
undermining our security by alienating the U.S. from the community
of nations and by provoking the spread of terrorism. It is weakening
rather than reinforcing the rule of international law. It has
led to an erosion of our most basic rights and liberties. And
it is doing terrible direct harm to many thousands of military
We, the American labor movement, should take a stand and speak
out on the biggest issue facing working people and the country
as a whole. We urge you to join us!
Please Join Us in Honoring:
Our Featured Speaker
Tickets must be reserved no later than Tuesday,
May 3. Make sure you and your organization appear in the program
book! Please call us (773.384.0327) or email
for further details, or download or view a PDF version of the
_____ Dinner Tickets @ $50 each: __________
_____ Reserved Tables(1) @ $600 each: __________
_____ page Program Book display message(3): __________
_____ Program Book text greeting(2)(3) @ $25: __________
_____ I can't attend; here is a contribution of: __________
Total Amount Enclosed: $__________
(1) Reserved tables seat 10.
(2) Maximum of 15 words per greeting.
(3) We need to receive the copy for the
program book no later than April 26th (our printer insists). Please
contact us for prices
and sizes or download/view a PDF version of this
Street Address: ___________________________________________
Phone: ___________________________ Email: _________________
Make check or money order payable to:
Contributions are not tax deductible.
compiled by Bob Roman
The Chicago Social Forum is one of a number of regional and
local social forums being organized throughout the world. At the
forum, organizations, groups and individuals are able to build
alliances and coalitions that strengthen their ability to make
more positive changes in their communities.
Politicians and business interests are pushing Chicago to become
a "Global City." The Chicago Social Forum aims toward
building a different kind of globalization, one that is rooted
in solidarity, equity, and environmental protection and human
rights. Of particular importance to this process is the linking
of local struggles with global concerns.
On January 31, 2004 the Chicago Social Forum held an inaugural
event that attracted over 500 participants for a day of workshops,
forums, debates, performance, sharing, art-making, and discussion
united by the theme "Another Chicago is Possible!" The
Chicago Social Forum 2005 promises to be even more exciting and
This year's Chicago Social Forum will be held Saturday, April
30, at Jones High School, 660 S. State in Chicago. For more information,
call Stephanie Dernek at 312.641.5151 during business hours or
go to http://www.chicagosocialforum.org.
The March 11 - 13 YDS conference was a hit. Students from as
far away as Arkansas, Oregon, Maine, and New Mexico came to New
York City to attend "When Bush Comes to Shove: Youth Organizing
Against Right-Wing and Corporate Power". Feedback from participants
has been overwhelmingly positive. YDS will be posting a conference
report and photos shortly: http://www.ydsusa.org.
Building off the momentum of the conference, YDS is scheduling
visits to campuses and communities across the country. If you
want a YDS organizer to come speak at your school, help start
or strengthen a chapter, or work with you to put together a teach-in
or training, please contact YDS Field Coordinator, Malav
Kanuga. YDS has also compiled a series of resources that were
used in association with "When Bush Comes to Shove"
conference workshop sessions that we can make available for you
to use when tabling on campus, conducting internal education or
handing out at your sponsored events.
Mark your calendars for the summer "YDS National Conference
and Activist Retreat": August 10-12! A unique opportunity
for YDS members and activists to get away from it all, to remember
why we do what we do and to learn how to do it better. More
details soon, but make sure to carve out time for this important
Chicago municiple union workers have been working without a
contract, some as long as 2 years. The Chicago Federation of Labor
has been presenting the case to the public and to the City Council.
It commissioned a poll on citizen's perception of the quality
of the work performed. And it organized a series of 5 regional
hearings to which the local Aldermen were invited. The last was
on March 16 in Rogers Park. The Aldermen got an earful, were sympathetic,
but unwilling to encourage the workers to think the recent police
contract would serve as a pattern. Go to http://www.workingforchicago.org/
for more information.