Home About CDSA New Ground Events Debs Dinner Links Join DSA Audio Email us

Your contribution is appreciated
but, because of our advocacy work,
not tax deductible.

New Ground 60

September - October, 1998


  • Starting a Campaign for Universal Health Care by Bob Roman
  • Rush for Mayor Begins by Charity Crouse
  • Recommendations for November Compiled by Bob Roman
  • A Living Wage: It's the Law! by Robert Roman
  • Sidebar: Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance
  • Sidebar: Cook County Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance
  • Han Young and Solidarity in the Age of NAFTA by Bill Dixon
  • The War Against Parents by Gene Birmingham
  • Letters
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • CDV Fall Offensive
    PMP Unshackled
    National Day of Action on Nike
    Focus on Hyundai
    Your Contributions at Work

    Starting a Campaign for Universal Health Care

    by Bob Roman

    At Noon on Thursday, July 30, some 700 people rallied on the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago to start what organizers hope will be a movement for a universal health care system. The rally itself was the beginning of a 24 hour "Healthapalooza!", which included a demonstration, informational tables and leafleting, music, theatre, comedy, videos. July 30th was chosen to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Medicare. The event was co-sponsored by an extensive list of health care providers, consumer organizations and political groups, including Chicago DSA.

    After the rally, about half the crowd marched to the plaza next to Chicago Commodities Exchange where a skit was performed objecting to the commodification of people and their health. It was fun, and to the point, but the decompressing traders and their gophers were more bemused than enlightened.

    Organizers estimate that over 1,000 people participated throughout the day long event, although those who attended at various odd hours may have thought it sparsely attended. The concluding rally at Noon on Friday drew only some three dozen participants.

    Press coverage was positive though mostly in secondary media. Most of the major TV outlets considered the opening of the "Old Navy" store on State Street to be bigger news. Still, the story was picked up by the Daily Herald, the Chicago Defender, and several community newspapers. The Illinois News Network, with 80 participating radio stations throughout the state, carried the story. Dr. Quentin Young was interviewed by WMAQ-AM radio. Cable network CLTV carried interviews and the highlights of the rally and the vigil.

    Born of Frustration

    The inspiration for the event came out of a deep sense of frustration among health care provider and consumer organizations. 33 years after the passage of Medicare, some 43 million Americans are without health insurance. This is nearly double the number just twenty years ago. Add to this the frustration of Managed Care, which typically gains its efficiency not by rationing care but by denying it. Then there is the radicalism of an entire stratum of declassed professionals: physicians, nurses and a whole range of allied health professionals, who have suffered the indignity of becoming mere employees.

    The situation is sufficiently bad that health care has not died as an issue, as one might have expected after the defeat of the various health care plans in Clinton's first term. The Health Care Consumers Bill of Rights has become a national issue, one that even Republican conservatives have adopted, in their own way. Legislatures across the nation have felt compelled to produce a steady trickle of legislation that tinkers with the system.

    The burden for planning the event was carried primarily by the Coalition for Better Health Care, Physicians for a National Health Plan and Access Living. The work was done quickly; planning for the event took only about a month.

    This short lead time is, possibly, part of the reason there was such a feeble labor presence in the list of some 60 co-sponsoring organizations: only SEIU Locals 1 and 73, UE District 11 and the Illinois Nurses Association. The Campaign for Better Health Care has a much larger labor representation on its own board! However, if labor were not particularly well represented, consumer and provider organizations from a wide variety of constituencies were present. In a particular sort of way, it was very much a rainbow event.

    Dx for the Future

    Because the issue of health care has not gone away but, instead, remains on the national political agenda, it seems as though there should be a chance for achieving a universal health care system. This event was intended to be the first step in building a movement toward that end.

    Some of the organizers of the event are particular that it be a "movement", as opposed to what they feel was the predominant approach during the last go-around, that of "selling a produce". A movement is more participatory, grass-roots and self-conscious. Imagine, if you will, a movement in demand of universal health care like the movement for civil rights that arose in this country during the 50s and 60s. It could also lead to other things. Or one could hope as much.

    But whether "selling a product" or "building a movement", the task will not be easy. Remember, the question of a universal health care system has been appearing on the political agenda, periodically, for most of this century. The central problem is not the overwhelming strength of capital in this country. Rather, the problem is in the very structure of our government.

    Decision making at the Federal level of government, indeed at most levels of government, is done on a libertarian model; it is not done by majority rule but instead some degree of consensus is demanded. This is what our vaunted system of "checks and balances" is all about. If there is a significant minority that is vehemently opposed, that minority has a reasonably good expectation of being able to veto.

    This also implies that there must be some degree of consensus among the proponents of a particular policy. This was not the case during the last major debate on this issue.

    Finally, it should be clear that proponents of a universal health care system, whether building a movement or selling a product, have some home work to do. Remember, during the campaigns for a universal health care system during the 70s, HMOs were going to be the engine of quality care. Today they are Dr. Frankenstein's monsters. Granted, the creatures now loose upon the land are rather different than the ones proposed at the time, but the genetic lineage is undeniable.

    But this event last July was a first step. As a first step, it was useful in building a working relationships. It was also a lot of fun, and we intend to do it again next year.

    Rush for Mayor Begins

    by Charity Crouse

    With months to go until a formal announcement, Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) has been preparing the groundwork for a full-scale grassroots campaign to take him to the fifth floor of City Hall by organizing the disenfranchised majority of Chicago's residents. The South Sider promises to provide a voice for poor and working people in city policies concerning housing, wages and economic opportunities. Since the end of August, Rush has been meeting with community residents and campaign volunteers in what has come to be called the Rush for Change Organizing Committee. Setting a minimum goal of 50,000 registered voters and $250,000 in campaign funds by November before he officially announces his candidacy for mayor, Rush has been working to form a coalition of African Americans, Latinos and progressives into what he calls the democratic vanguard of the possible to help him unseat Richard M. Daley in the Spring.

    Throughout the initial organizing drive, Rush has been relying heavily on sentiment left over from the massive voter registration drive activated and carried out by former mayor Harold Washington during his 1982-3 City Hall run. Many of the campaign volunteers were originally designated as deputy registrars while organizing for Washington and, along with volunteers carrying motor voter registration forms, have turned out for large-scale celebrations such as the Bud Billiken Parade on Aug. 8, where a contingent of volunteers marched behind the Rush for Change banner, and the Unity Festival on Aug. 29, both of which culminated in Washington Park next to the DuSable Museum of African American History.

    So far the Rush organizing drive has been spared the sensationalistic attention of Chicago's established media. Instead, Rush has been appearing under several auspices in alternative and community publications around the city, especially in areas where the campaign has been focused. The main thrust of the drive so far has been concentrated in the African American South Side and the multi-ethnic West Side, where Rush has received much local attention and support.

    Although localized precinct operations are underway in many areas and will be expanded upon in the fall season, much of the organizing has been group efforts. Volunteers meet at the Second Ward Aldermanic office, located at 449 E. 35th St., in the early morning for breakfast served by the Congressman, and a prayer. After these breakfasts, volunteers are transported to the site and disperse in teams to register voters on-site. Rush's drive has been augmented by several other organizing drives, particularly the one initiated by Operation Rainbow/Push.

    A new downtown office, located at 9 N. Wabash Ave. on the third floor, has been opened and campaign volunteers can be treated to an initial orientation on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. weekly. Sign-up is on-going for deputy registrar sessions, which are facilitated by the Board of Elections. The sessions last two hours.

    Recommendations for November

    Compiled by Bob Roman

    Electoral politics has not been Chicago DSA's strongest point these past few years though this has not always been the case. Still, the Executive Committee felt that we could not let the upcoming general elections in November pass without comment, partly because electoral politics should be a regular part of our agenda even if it isn't our main focus and partly because we had a special interest in one of the candidates.

    But organizations like DSA have their biggest influence in primary elections. And in this general election, most of the reasonably good candidates the Executive Committee knew about fell into two categories: very good people who are pretty much assured of being elected and other good people who have a snowball's chance in April of being elected (it could happen!) but whose campaigns have a nuisance value too precious to pass up.

    Under the circumstances we couldn't quite see making endorsements. Past practice, in any case, has made endorsements the responsibility of Membership meetings, not the Executive Committee. Instead, we decided to recommend the following candidates to you, Chicago DSA members and friends, for your consideration. Lefty election junkies of Chicagoland take note!

    Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of worthy candidates (see Letters ), but we felt these individuals deserve your attention.


    Dan Bailey, DuPage County Board, 4th District

    Dan Bailey is a locomotive engineer and local union president. The folks in WSDSA know him well and think highly of him. It would be wonderful if he were the one to break the Republican's monopoly on the DuPage County Board. To become involved in his campaign or for more information, call (630) 682-8590 or go to http://www.ameritech.net/users/baileyd/bailey.html. Contributions may be sent to Dan Bailey for County Board, 302 S. Prospect, Wheaton, IL 60187.


    Rita Gonzalez, Illinois State Senate, 23rd District

    Rita Gonzalez also comes recommended by WSDSA. Quite frankly, just about anyone willing to challenge Pate Philip is worth of support and admiration. To become involved in her campaign or for more information, call (630) 415-2583. Contributions may be sent to Citizens for Rita Gonzalez, PO Box 1094, Addison, IL 60101-1094.


    Julie Hamos, Illinois General Assembly, 18th District

    Julie Hamos has been a presence in mainstream and leftish politics in Chicago for a long time. She's now running for Jan Schakowsky's old seat in the General Assembly. To become involved in her campaign or for more information, call (847) 424 - 9898. Contributions may be sent to Friends of Julie Hamos, PO Box 5308, Evanston, IL 60204-5308.


    Marc Loveless, Illinois State Senate, 17th District

    Marc Loveless is running for the State Senate as a candidate of the Green Party. But he's also a member of Chicago DSA, and apart from any other virtues of his campaign, we want to encourage such initiative. Unfortunately, he didn't make it on to the ballot (petitions challenged). But Marc Loveless vows the campaign is not over. For more information, go to http://www.greens.org/chicago or call (773) 384 - 4209


    Danny Davis, U.S. House of Representatives, 7th District

    Danny Davis is a member of the Progressive Caucus, an old friend of DSA and a member of the New Party. If that's not enough, you can call (773) 638 - 1998 for more information. Contributions may be sent to Davis for Congress, 3333 W. Arthington, Ste 130, Chicago, IL 60624.


    Luis Gutierrez, U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District

    Luis Gutierrez is a member of the Progressive Caucus, and a supporter of the Progressive Challenge. For more information, call (773) 486 - 4323. Contributions may be sent to Gutierrez for Congress, 1658 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647.


    Jessie Jackson, Jr, U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District

    Jessie Jackson, Jr, is a member of the Progressive Caucus and a supporter of the Progressive Challenge. Apart from some arguable positions (e.g. the third airport), he's been a fine representative. For more information, call (312) 915 - 4062. Contributions may be sent to Jessie Jackson for Congress, PO Box 49286, Chicago, IL 60649


    Bobby Rush, U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District

    Bobby Rush is not a member of the Progressive Caucus, though he should be. For more information, call (312) 225 - 3444. Contributions may be sent to Citizens for Rush, 3361 S. Martin Luther King Dr, Chicago, IL 60616.


    Jan Schakowsky, U.S. House of Representatives, 9th District

    Jan Schakowsky is running for Sid Yates old position. Like Danny Davis, she's an old friend of DSA and a real fighter. For more information, call (847) 424-1998 or go to http://www.janforcongress.org. Contributions may be sent to Schakowsky for Congress, 990 Grove, Ste 203, Evanston, IL 60201

    A Living Wage: It's the Law!

    by Robert Roman

    Everyone reasonably hip knew that something was going to happen on July 30. If nothing else, Thursday was to be the day the Chicago City Council finally pulled the plug on the proposed Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance. Despite the fact this would provide the New Party a most excellent issue with which to portray most of Chicago's aldermen as self-serving hacks ("Pay back time in 99!"), supporters of the Ordinance were grim.

    Still, Chicago ACORN and SEIU 880 turned out their company of shock troops for a noisy demonstration commenting on the obvious incongruity of the Council voting itself a pay raise while many of the people supplying the goods and services for the operation of city government worked for less than a living wage.

    Imagine their astonishment when the hither to recalcitrant City Council passed a Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance by 49-0!

    When Keith Kelleher, SEIU 880's head organizer and a leader in the Living Wage Campaign, received the call from the Ordinance's City Council supporters asking if the Campaign would accept the deal, he described his reaction:

    "I'm like Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners when he's speechless: 'hominna, hominna, hominna, hominna.'. But I recovered quickly enough to say Yes, take the deal!"

    Truly, there were rhumbas and grins across the city, in offices, in homes, in cars. One activist supporter of the Ordinance described how, for safety's sake, she had to pull off the expressway when she heard the news on her car phone.

    Even the aldermen were grinning. They had just raised their yearly salary to $85,000 (not bad for part time work) and given Mayor Daley a boost to $192,100.

    Not Ready for Prime Time Machiavelli

    Most accounts give credit for passage of the Ordinance to Alderman Ed Burke. Alderman Burke, some may remember, was a dangerous, creative and marvelously half-assed opponent of Mayor Washington during the "Council Wars" of Washington's first term.

    Typically Burke was the occasion when he unearthed the tidbit that Mayor Washington had failed to file the financial disclosure statement required of all Illinois politicians. The press geared up for a feeding frenzy, but Alderman Burke had not done his homework. Something close to half the state's politicians had similarly failed to file. Amid a chorus of embarrassed grins, the story evaporated while a silent river of paper flowed toward Springfield.

    Ironically, Alderman Burke was an early supporter of the Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance. When push came to shove, he had already abandoned ship (see New Ground #54, September - October, 1997). No one was surprised. Everyone was a little relieved.

    Not surprisingly, the Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance passed by the City Council is a very different animal from the original. The new Ordinance is also not a well crafted piece of work, as one might expect from someone who has not done all his homework.

    Victory, Fig Leaf, or Clay Pigeon?

    While aspects of The original Ordinance may have been open to question, it was a well thought out piece of work. For a complete analysis, see New Ground #49, November - December, 1996, but the outlines are simple enough. First, the Ordinance was not a minimum wage, but it did require employers of a certain size, receiving benefits from or having contracts with the City beyond a certain amount to pay a living wage of $7.60. This was to be adjusted yearly for inflation, whether the Council would or no. The Ordinance mandated the collection of data so its effects and compliance could be judged. While it set up a civic committee to monitor the workings of the Ordinance, the documents were to be public so outside groups could perform their own assessment. Finally, the benefits of the Ordinance were to be directed toward Chicago residents through the creation of community based hiring halls.

    Most of this is gone (see sidebar). The new Ordinance only applies to contracts that require the employment of 25 or more employees in a specified list of job categories in the performance of that contract. Not for profit corporations are excluded. There is next to no enforcement mechanism mandated, no way of monitoring compliance with the Ordinance, and while the Council is clearly expected to adjust the base wage for inflation, there is no requirement that it do so.

    Is this but a fig leaf for the City Council's pay raise? Not necessarily: the Ordinance often says less than it means to, sometimes to our advantage. Just one example: "not for profit" is defined with reference to Illinois corporate law and to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, specifically Section 501(c)(3). However, this is but one section of the Code that applies to "not for profit" entities and not all '"not for profit" corporations that operate in Illinois are incorporated in Illinois.

    Some of the lack of enforcement and monitoring could be remedied by the regulations implementing the Ordinance. The Purchasing Department is mandated to "promulgate" such regulations. The Jobs and Living Wage Campaign and the Chicago Federation of Labor plan to meet with the Purchasing Department to discuss this very issue.

    So the effect of the Ordinance will depend on its interpretation and its implementation. The City estimates some 600 people will be covered; the Living Wage Campaign estimates 3,000 to 5,000 will be covered.

    And this is important, not just for the workers that may or may not be covered but for its political implications. While unionized workers consistently get more than their non-unionized counterparts, that doesn't always mean they get much, particularly in many of the job categories specified in the Ordinance. A Living Wage pay increase on top of a hard fought collective bargaining agreement is a free lunch for union staff and bound to move the New Party from the realm of interesting abstraction to something that actually registers on Chicago labor's political radar.

    Is this a victory? The fight is still in progress.

    And it could end up a clay pigeon. The chamber of commerce types who opposed the original Ordinance did so as if it were a minimum wage bill. With the original Ordinance, they at least had the excuse of a novel interpretation that a city business license could be construed as a "benefit" thus requiring the Living Wage. Such a far fetched idea is no longer tenable, but their arguments remain the same. Clearly, the very idea of a living wage raises the class warfare instincts of the business class.

    Given the shoddy construction of the Ordinance, one could easily imagine a challenge to some specific portion of it. Unlike the original Ordinance, there is no severability clause: those clever little legal circuit breakers that say if one part of a law is found unconstitutional, the rest of it is still okay. If one part of this Ordinance is defective, the whole thing goes down. Will there be a challenge? One can't imagine the business class objecting to a fig leaf.

    Living Wage Fever

    Cook County President John Stroger, Jr., may be one of the more underestimated politicians in Chicago. When the Living Wage Campaign first began in Chicago, then County Commissioner Danny Davis introduced a Living Wage Ordinance in the Cook County Board. In negotiations with the Living Wage Campaign, President Stroger indicated he was not interested in the measure and the Ordinance was going no further than the Finance Committee to which it had been referred. Within weeks of the passage of the Chicago's ordinance, all this had changed. A new county Ordinance was introduced and referred to the Finance Committee on September 1st. Clearly, this is a man with a sensitive sense of the bandwagon.

    Co-sponsored by John Stroger, John P. Daley (another son of Daley the Elder) and Roberto Maldonado, the county Ordinance is closely patterned after the city Ordinance, but better written, modified for specific county considerations, and in some ways much more limited. Indeed, preliminary estimates from the County Purchasing Agent indicated that the Ordinance would cost the county an additional $600,000 and cover a few hundred employees.

    For one thing, the Ordinance apparently excludes workers covered by collective bargaining contracts (see Section 2 (B)). While the County Board's Finance Committee considered the matter, Republican members could not credit the idea of a union contract that paid less than $7.60 an hour. Still, the language in that section was peculiar enough so that it was amended slightly to read "recognized union" rather than "responsible". The meaning of "in no way influenced or controlled by the County of Cook" remains a mystery, but the ghost of Sam Gompers smiled and lit a cigar.

    Another problem in comparison with the Chicago Ordinance is that the county Ordinance makes no provision for adjusting the living wage.

    The Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign attempted to remedy these and other deficiencies, including the fact that, while the original Ordinance had been imprisoned in committee, inflation had raised the estimate of a Living Wage to $7.91 an hour. The Campaign drew upon the experience of Living Wage Ordinances elsewhere in the country to suggest language that would address these concerns.

    The Finance Committee meeting to consider the Ordinance was held Monday, September 14. It was a relaxed, working meeting, with the Commissioners variously dressed more for demands of the rest of the day than that meeting.

    Commissioner Maldonado attempted to address the limited scope of the Ordinance by introducing, in the Finance Committee, an amendment that would have made eligible all businesses that employ 25 or more full time employees rather than those awarded a contract requiring the employment of 25 or more full time employees.

    The amendment ran into a solid wall of opposition from President Stroger. "Come on, Roberto," he complained. "We want to get this thing passed." A representative from the Attorney General's Office chimed to opine that Maldonado's proposed language was more restrictive. Maldonado withdrew the amendment.

    But that wasn't the end of the story. Commissioner Jerry "The Iceman" Butler observed that if he were an employer unwilling to pay a living wage, he'd never be found with more than 24 full time employees. There was a moment of "Well... duh!" consternation among the Committee members, then Butler moved to strike all reference to 25 employees. Surprisingly, the amendment was approved.

    Without a written text, I'm not sure whether Butler's amendment applies to both Section 1 (A) 1 and Section 1 (A) 3 or just to Section 1 (A) 3. Either would be an improvement, but the former would be an improvement indeed.

    The Ordinance was taken up by the full Board at its regular meeting the next day, Tuesday, September 15. The day started with an ebullient press conference where all the principle players were well represented. The participants crowded into the Board chambers, ready to serve as a cheering section. Instead, the County Board plowed through a full two hour agenda before it came to the Living Wage.

    Almost no one was left to witness the passage of the Ordinance. Finance Committee Chair John Daley moved the passage of items y through z on the agenda. The ayes had it with no dissent. As the decimated audience sat in stunned boredom, Stroger looked up and remarked casually, "That was yours, ACORN."

    And so it was.


    Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance

    Note: two "whereas" paragraphs refering to Chicago's home rule powers precede the Ordinance.


    Section 1. That Chapter 2-92 of the Municipal Code is hereby amended by inserting a new section 2-92-610 as follows:


    2-92-610 Contracts requiring a Base Wage.


    A. Definitions. For the purpose of this section only, the following terms shall have the following meanings:


    1. "Contract" means any written agreement whereby the City is committed to expend or does expend funds in connection with any contract or subcontract which requires in the performance thereof the employment of twenty-five or more full time in-City: security guards, parking attendants, day laborers, home and health care workers, cashiers, elevator operators, custodial workers and clerical workers except the term "contract" shall not include contracts with not-for-profit organizations.


    2. "Contracting Agency" means the City of Chicago or any agency thereof.


    3. "Eligible Contractors" means any person awarded by the City of Chicago or agency thereof for which requires in the performance thereof the employment of twenty-five or more full time non-city security guards, the employment of non-city employed parking attendants, the employment of non-city employed day laborers, the employment of non-city employed home and health care workers, the employment of non-city employed elevator operators, the employment of non-city employed clerical workers.


    4. "Not-for-profit organization" means a corporation having tax exempt status under Section 501(c)3 of the United States Internal Revenue Code and recognized under Illinois State not-for-profit law.


    5. "Base wage" means no less than $7.60 per hour may be upwardly adjusted each year upon order of the City Council.


    B. Every contract of every-eligible contract [sic] shall contain a provision or provisions stipulating the wages required to be paid to the employees listed under Paragraph A(1), and each such contract shall further contain provisions obligating the contractor or subcontractor of such contractor to pay its employees on work thereunder not less than the Base Wage.


    C. The purchasing agent may promulgate administrative rules and regulations to implement this Section 2-92-610.


    D. Whenever the purchasing agent has reason to believe that any such employee has been paid less than the Base rate of Wages, or upon a verified complaint in writing from an employee worker affected by the provisions of this Section, the Purchasing Agent shall conduct an investigation to determine the facts relating thereto.


    E. Any contract that violates the provisions contained in this Section shall be subjected to Section 2-92-320 of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago.


    Section 2. Chapter 2-92-320 is hereby amended by inserting the language underscored and deleting the language bracketed as follows:


    D. No person or business entity shall be awarded a contract or subcontract if that person or business entity;


    (d) has violated Section 2-92-610.


    Ineligibility under this Section shall continue for three years following such conviction or admission[.] or violation of Section 2-92-610.


    Section 3. This ordinance shall apply to contracts advertised or if not advertised awarded on or after January 1, 1999.


    Section 4. This ordinance shall be effective upon passage and publication.


    Cook County Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance

    Five "whereas" paragraphs amounting to a nice mini-manifesto are omitted. This text represents the Ordinance prior to amendment in the Finance Committee.


    Section 1

    That a base wage for services performed or produced shall be paid to individuals employed under contracts between the County of Cook and eligible contractors.


    (A) Definitions For the purpose of this ordinance only, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

    1. "Contract" means any written agreement requiring Board approval whereby the County is committed to expend or does expend funds in connection with any contract or subcontract which requires in the performance thereof the employment of twenty-five or more employees, except the term "contract" shall not include contracts with not-for-profit organizations, community development block grants, President's Office of Employment Training, Sheriff's Work Alternative Program, or Department of Correction inmates.

    2. "Contracting Agency" means the County of Cook.

    3. "Eligible Contractors" means any person or business entity awarded a contract by the County of Cook which requires in the performance thereof the employment of twenty-five or more full time employees.

    4. "Not for Profit Organization" means a corporation having tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code and recognized under Illinois State Not-for-Profit law.

    5. "Base Wage" means no less than $7.60 per hours.


    (B) Every eligible contract shall contain a provision or provisions stipulating the wages required to be paid to the employees listed under paragraph A (1), and each such contract shall further contain provisions obligating the Contractor or Subcontractor of such Contractor to pay its employees for work thereunder not less than the Base Wage.


    (C) The Purchasing Agent shall require as part of the bidding and sole source procedure that any covered Contractor provide the County of Cook certification of its compliance with this ordinance.


    (D) Any contract that violates the provisions contained in this ordinance shall be subject to cancellation by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

    Any Contractor disqualified from eligibility by the Cook County Board of Commissioners shall be ineligible for two years following violation of this ordinance.


    Section 2.

    (A) This ordinance shall apply to Contracts advertised for bid or if not advertised for bid, approved for sole source on or after December 1, 1998.

    (B) Whenever a collective bargaining agreement is in effect between Eligible Contractors and employees who are represented by a responsible labor organization which is in no way influenced or controlled by the County of Cook, such agreement and its provisions shall be considered as conditions prevalent in that locality and therefore exempt from this ordinance.

    (C) This ordinance shall not apply to any contract with the County of Cook entered into prior to the effective date of the ordinance.

    (D) All resolutions or ordinances or parts thereof in conflict with the provisions of this ordinance to the extent of such conflict are hereby repealed effective upon passage of this ordinance.

    Han Young and Solidarity in the Age of NAFTA

    by Bill Dixon

    When workers began a wildcat strike against the Han Young auto plant in Tijuana, Mexico in June of 1997, their demands were simple: basic safety improvements for the plant's hazardous and sometimes deadly conditions. They wanted adequate ventilation and better gear and equipment to stop toxic fume poisoning and other injuries on the floor.

    Today the struggle at Han Young is just as serious but far more complex. Its outcome will carry enormous implications for the future of the labor movement under NAFTA.

    Stonewalling the Union

    After two days the workers won their wildcat strike. Han Young, which produces exclusively for the Korean-based Hyundai Motors, relented and agreed to discuss new safety rules with a worker-elected committee. But the peace didn't last long. Within weeks many strike activists at the plant found themselves fired, and many more became targets for harassment and intimidation.

    If payback for the strike was one reason for management's backlash, another was doubtless the worker's attempt to gain representation from an independent union, the Union for Workers in the Metal, Steel, Iron, and Allied Industries (STIMAHCS).

    Formerly the plant had been represented by the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Farmers (CROC), a company friendly outfit tightly linked to Mexico's old system of one party machine-style rule, as organized through the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). According to Han Young workers, CROC collected "dues" directly from management and never so much as held shop meetings, let alone intervene on behalf of its membership.

    The "October 6" Union

    Soon after the June strike, Han Young workers began to demand an election between STIMAHCS and CROC. On October 6, after four months of obstruction from Han Young management and government labor officials, an election was finally held. STIMAHCS won the vote 55 to 32, despite the fact that workers had to vote open ballot under the watchful eyes of management.

    No matter, however: the PRI controlled Tijuana office of the Mexican labor board simply refused to certify the results, citing management allegations that some workers weren't allowed to vote. STIMAHCS supporters deny this, and point out that even Han Young supervisors were permitted to cast ballots, irregular enough by any standard of labor law and in fact illegal in Mexico.

    The Conflict Expands

    Since then the workers at Han Young have been campaigning for recognition of the "October 6" union. With help from the U.S.-based Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers along activist labor groups like Jobs with Justice and a host of Central American solidarity organizations, the Han Young cause has won a healthy share of public attention in Canada and the U.S. as well as Mexico.

    The campaign has proceeded on a number of very different fronts. In November of 1997 four fired plant activists began a hunger strike which lasted nearly four weeks. They eventually chained themselves to the doors of the Tijuana labor board. Hyundai dealerships throughout North America were the targets of regular public protests. Meanwhile, a complaint was filed with the National Administration Office in the US, the review board established under NAFTA in each country to hear complaints about other NAFTA countries failing to enforce their own laws with regard to trade issues.

    The NAO complaint helped to quickly bring the Han Young issue straight into last November's fateful battle over fast-track authority, where it became a powerful symbol for "fair trade" Democrats who rallied and turned the tide against both President Clinton and the Republican leadership. In some part thanks to the once tiny, obscure struggle at Han Young, fast-track was defeated and NAFTA itself was at risk of being even further discredited.

    So pressure grew, and after workers struck the plant again in early December both the Tijuana labor board and Han Young management agreed to make a deal. A second election held December 4 once again went in favor of STIMAHCS and Han Young agreed to rehire six of the fired activists, recognize the new union, and bargain a contract. Then once again, mere days after the second election, management changed its mind. STIMAHCS representatives were barred from the plant and contract talks were called off.

    However, representatives from another PRI-affiliated union were allowed at the plant, with open management support. But when neither management nor the new company union moved to improve safety after a series of near fatal accidents, workers struck the plant yet again for a day in January of 1998, in hopes of forcing a government inspection.

    After six months, it seemed as though the union was back to square one. Fortunately, direct action from the Mexican federal government forced Han Young to sign a temporary agreement with the union according recognition.

    That agreement ran out May 22 and since then Han Young workers have been on strike. Management has continued to fire union supporters, replacing them with a steady stream of new workers shipped in from Veracruz. Violence against union activists has also intensified, as has police harassment.

    On May 29 a third union election was held, again upholding the independent union, despite what workers charge to have been widespread ballot fraud by management. Recently, evidence has emerged that Han Young's owners are planning to move the plant and re-open it under a different name in order to break the strike, which is also illegal in Mexico.

    The consequences of the Han Young strike will have both real-world and symbolic importance for workers across all of NAFTA's borders. Tijuana is in Mexico's maquiladora belt, which since 1965 has attracted foreign investment through low wages, high productivity, and scarce regulations. What success the "October 6" union has enjoyed so far has spurred on organizing drives in other maquiladora factories, which promises to drive up wages throughout the region as well as strengthen the independent currents emerging within the Mexican labor movement.

    Who knows? Maybe someday that trend could slow the course of U.S. and Canadian capital flight to Mexico. But until then the Han Young strike embodies every horrible truth public opinion north of Mexico has long suspected about NAFTA, as well as every charge leveled by the labor movement against expanding free-trade without securing better protections for workers.

    The War Against Parents

    by Gene Birmingham


    Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West, The War Against Parents, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York, 1998


    The prologue's first words summarize this book: "Our is a special partnership. A black man and a white woman come together to confront our nation's war against parents and our consequent inability to cherish our children." (Page xi). The black man is Cornel West, an honorary chair of DSA. The white woman is Sylvia Ann Hewlett, native of Wales, and founder and president of the National Parenting Association in the U.S.

    I have taught parenting based on the insights of psychologist, Alfred Adler, himself a socialist; but this book is my first encounter with political, economic and cultural issues which impact parents beyond their ability to deal with them. The war against parents is waged by a government which cuts back parental support continually; by a job culture with an uncertain future and low wages; and a pop culture which presents and reinforces degrading images of parents and children. "How to" approaches to parenting miss these points. Each of these waves of attack is presented in a separate chapter.

    Hewlett and West open with brief biographical information from their childhoods which provide a contrast in being parented as they experienced it and present conditions. Separate chapters give emphasis to the absence and weakness of fathers, a fact giving rise to such male groups as Promise Keepers and the Nation of Islam's rallies for men.

    The authors present a Parents Bill of Rights as a platform for a Parenting Movement. AARP is offered as a model for the movement, illustrating that a mass movement by parents can be as effective as one for retirees has been. The GI Bill is another model, illustrating how governmental support for World War II veterans was an investment in the nation's wellbeing. Similar support can benefit parents and the nation again. History has shown that progressive policies come only from mass movements. Parents will have to get organized.

    Until now parents have been blamed for almost every social problem we face. If parents are that vital, why do we continue to believe that parenting is confined to the nuclear family? Why not equip them as a society to perform the tasks which ultimately benefit or harm society by the way they are carried out?

    It is important to note that a Parents Movement could attract people apart from ideological differences. Parenting crosses all lines of division in our land. Given the opportunity, parents are likely to opt for proposals that help, rather than settle for being told to pull themselves up by bootstraps they do not have. In the battle for the minds of parents, socialist proposals could be offered as practical rather than ideological ideas because of an atmosphere that realizes help is needed. Socialists can be inspired as well as instructed by this hope-filled book.


    Dear Editor:

    I would like to urge DSA members and other progressives to support the candidacy of William "Willie" Delgato, Democratic Nominee for State Representative, 3rd District. Willie, who is New Party member and supporter, won a close race with critical New Party help in the 35th Ward. He is a progressive independent candidate whom I think we should all support.


    In Solidarity,

    Ron Baiman


    Editor's Note: I confess! I asked Ron to email this letter to the editor when he expressed dismay at Willie Delgato's absence from the Executive Committee's "recommended" candidates. I agree it was a significant omission. In the Executive Committee's defense, I'd add that the main reason we felt compelled to say anything at all was because, at the time, it looked like DSA member Marc Loveless might make it on the ballot. The list was never meant to be comprehensive. There are a number of other very good candidates that were not mentioned. For my part, I would nominate State Senator Barak Obama (13th District) and County Clerk David Orr. Outside of Chicago DSA's area is Congressman Lane Evans, who is actually facing a tough reelection fight. But this is just my opinion; I'm sure our readers can think of others as deserving, or disagree.

    Other News

    by Robert Roman

    CDV Fall Offensive

    The Center for Democratic Values starts round two in its Arguing with the Right series with the second Left vs. Right Debate: "Affirmative Action in Higher Education". This event will be cosponsored by the National Communication Association (NCA) and will take place at their annual convention at the New York Hilton & Towers, Sunday, November 22 at 8 pm.

    Arguing for the Left will be Congressman Danny Davis (Illinois, 7th District) and Professor Barbara Berman (former President of the AAUP and author of In Defense of Affirmative Action). Arguing for the Right will be Dinesh D'Souza (Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and author of The End of Racism) and Abigail Thernstrom (Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute and co-author of America in Black and White).

    The debate is open to the public and it will be taped for wide distribution. CDV will seek to have it aired on C-SPAN.

    CDV other projects in progress. One is a film biography of Detroit DSA member Saul Wellman. Academy Award winner Judy Montell is directing the film; DSA's former National Director, Alan Charney, is working as the Executive Producer. A release date has not yet been set.

    Also in progress is a book by Chicago DSA member David Schweickart entitled Beyond Capitalism. Other titles are currently being planned.

    For more information call CDV at (313) 577-0828 or go to http://www.igc.org/cdv/

    PMP Unshackled

    As a national project, DSA Youth Section's Prison Moratorium Project has been simmering the back burner for some time now. Constrained by the usual limitations of volunteerism and limited finances, its main venue of activity has been New York.

    However, a clever plan to burst the bonds of financial penury and to reach out to the disaffected hip hop subculture has been in the works and now is nearing fruition. The Project is going into the music business.

    The Project is starting out with a CD "single" with a vinyl (yes, that's vinyl) companion release this fall. Both the CD and the record contain 4 tracks: the title track by Hurricane G, the B-side by L da Headtucha and Scientifik (produced by Edo G), a spoken-word piece by Lyric, and a bonus track by Akbar. Three of the four tracks were produced specifically for the CD and deal with the prison issue. The Project was fortunate to secure the donated services of a professional designer, who has put thousands of dollars worth of work into the production of commercial quality art and layout for the single itself and for advertisements.

    The CD has already generated a low level buzz in trade publications and in publications that cater to the hip hop market.

    If the single release is successful, the Project hopes to bootstrap up to producing a full length CD.

    For more information, call Kevin Pranis at (212) 727-8610 or email kpranis@dsausa.org.

    National Day of Action on Nike

    Last July, representatives from several national organizations that do cross border solidarity work met with representatives from workers' rights organizations from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Canada. The meeting was to plan a campaign to win a living wage for apparel and shoe workers around the world.

    The first corporate focus will be Nike, for several reasons. First, Nike shoe workers in many countries are already protesting their miserable wages. Then, too, Nike is already a focus of a major international campaign which has affected its reputation and its sales and the campaign has solid links with shoe workers in Indonesia, Vietnam and (to a lesser extent) China.

    October 17 will be a national day of action pressure Nike on the issues of living wages and collective bargaining. In Chicago, there will be a rally on Saturday, October 17 at Noon at Niketown, 669 N. Michigan Av in Chicago. For more information call Chicago Jobs with Justice (312) 226-6340.

    Focus on Hyundai

    The workers at the Han Young plant in Mexico have been on strike for some time now (see page 5). It's a union recognition dispute, mostly, and it might seem just another industrial dust-up but the dispute has international significance.

    First of all, recognition of the union at the Han Young plant would be the first beach-head of militant, independent unionism in Mexico's maquiladora zone. This could change the dynamics of labor relations in the border region.

    But more immediately, it provides a test, or demonstration if you will, of the NAFTA side agreements on labor and other social issues. Both the Han Young management and the Mexican state have been in clear violation of Mexican labor law. Mexican labor law is really quite progressive, compared to laws here in the States. It doesn't matter if they are ignored when inconvenient to management.

    Han Young's only customer is Hyundai Precision America, Hyundai's North American subsidiary. The initial target in the campaign in support of Han Young workers was the Mexican state; Hyundai had agreed to pressure Han Young management to recognize the union and bargain in good faith. The agreement was for naught. Han Young management has continued its campaign against the union, something it could not have done without the consent, at least, of Hyundai. The focus of Han Young support work has shifted back to Hyundai.

    San Diego DSA has been particularly active in organizing support for the Han Young workers. Chicago DSA recently contributed $200 to SDDSA's fundraising drive in support of the strike. This past September 19, CDSA contacted its labor support list to help at an informational picket line outside a near southside Hyundai dealer. The picket line was organized by Chicago Jobs with Justice Cross Border Organizing Committee.

    If you would like to be on Chicago DSA's labor support list, call the CDSA office: (773) 384 - 0327, or email robertmroman@delphi.com.

    The DSA Youth Section is organizing a national day of action in support of the Han Young workers on October 30th. This is intended as a supplement to the September 19 national day of action organized by the Campaign for Labor Rights. If you would like to help with the action, call the CDSA office: (773) 384-0327, or email jkaxthel@midway.uchicago.edu. For additional information about the Han Young strike and the Campaign for Labor Rights, go to http://www.summersault.com/~agj/clr

    Your Contributions at Work

    Chicago DSA's contribution to the July 30th demonstration for universal health care was an 1,800 piece postcard mailing to downtown Chicago, most of the north and south lakefront, the near west side, DSA members and others who receive New Ground. We followed up the mailing with phone calls to a good percentage of the membership list.

    At the same time, the AFL-CIO Executive Board was meeting in Chicago, which was, perhaps, another reason the demonstration was light on union sponsorship.

    In connection with the Board meeting, the AFL-CIO Department of Field Mobilization was holding one of its "Union City" conferences. Such an event would be incomplete without a mobilization, and there was a target conveniently nearby the meeting: CLTV, the Tribune Co.'s cable tv operation, which is being organized by AFTRA.

    The AFL-CIO's Midwest office asked if we'd like to help promote the August 1st rally in support of AFTRA. Our efforts are necessarily modest, but we did send a postcard mailing to our labor support list, and mentioned the demostration to those we called in connection with the health care demonstration.

    To those of you who may have come late, our apologies. The postcard listed the rally at the Sheraton from 5:30 to 6:30, followed by a march to the Tribune Tower. The rally only lasted until 6 and was followed by a march to the Tribune Tower and a picket line that lasted until 6:30.

    It's hard to say how the Tribune Tower felt about the rabble at its gates; the ghost of the Colonel hangs heavy there. But the tourists and shoppers on Michigan Avenue displayed a full range of reactions. And the management of the Sheraton was distinctly unnerved by a conga line of several hundred militant, chanting, sign-waiving unionists parading through their lobby.

     Add yourself to the Chicago DSA mailing list (snail mail and email).

    Back to top.