Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Labor Beat fundraiser this Friday...

7 pm, FRIDAY, NOV. 6
Evanston Community Media Center
1285 Hartrey Ave.
Evanston, Illinois
$20 Suggested Donation
free parking on site
- Excerpts from recent Labor Beat shows
- Labor Beat producers introduce their work
- Food & refreshments will be available
- Discuss issues on labor media with other enthusiasts
- More

Labor Beat is a cable-tv series for and about the working class.
On in: Chicago; Evanston; Rockford; Urbana; Peoria; St. Louis & area; Princeton, NJ

"Labor Beat is a necessary institution. As newspapers and investigative reporting go under, Labor Beat somehow stays alive, low-budget, and on the scene. Everybody knows them, so when something is going to happen, they make sure Labor Beat will be there. They have been around long enough to have survived successive waves of technology, from cameras as heavy as cement blocks to little things that get images up on YouTube in minutes. They know the whole world of the labor movement, not just the headliners. They also make films you can actually watch, that look good and make sense. Money can't buy this quality of work -- but it can help. Someone get these guys a MacArthur!"
-Helena Worthen
Clinical Associate Professor
Labor Education Program University of Illinois*

"Without Labor Beat, most of the news of the struggles of the working class would not exist for the majority of people. Labor Beat's coverage of the struggles against tyranny in Chicago's public schools is a great example of the service they perform, but to visit their entire list of programs is breathtaking, and it's clear we need to expand their work by providing the money they need."
-George Schmidt
Editor, Substance News*

"Labor Beat is important for our movement. They tirelessly document and educate the world about workers struggles and victories. Lets keep them going for many years to come."
-Leah Fried
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, UE*

"Labor Beat is a vital resource for rank and file union members in Chicago. As a result of Labor Beats unflagging support for public schools that reflect the interests of their communities, the Board of Education is increasingly reluctant to close neighborhood schools. In addition, Labor Beat's coverage of my organization, the Caucus Of Rank and File Educators, helped us win a huge victory against our current corrupt union leadership and come a step closer to revitalizing and transforming the Chicago Teachers Union, the biggest local in town."
-Jackson Potter
Teacher, Union activist
Little Village Lawndale High School*

"Labor Beat is a good, hard working entity that believes in helping all unionized members by getting their message out, and I'm glad Labor Beat is around. Thank you Labor Beat for all the good work you did for our slate during our election. I look forward to us working together again soon."

-Leo "Duke" Clark
IBT Local 726*

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Regional Director
AFSCME Council 37*

"Labor Beat is a leader of labor journalism. Chicago and the labor movement would be diminished without a strong Labor Beat. We can't build a labor movement without knowing what other workers are doing. Labor Beat fills the gap in mainstream reporting. Support Labor Beat today!"
-Frank Emspak
Executive Producer
Workers Independent News*

*For identification purposes only

Download Fundraiser PDF, with map, at:
For more information on fundraiser: * 312-226-3330
Can't attend the event (SEE EVENT ADDRESS AT TOP OF EMAIL)?
Then please send a check to "Labor Beat" at:
Labor Beat
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In note, write: " Nov. 6 Fundraiser".
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Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chicago City Council once again turns its back on the working people of Chicago...

After the municipal elections back in 2007, in which the Chicago Federation of Labor invested an historic level of resources in getting pro-labor alderman elected, I think many of us really hoped to see a more worker friendly city council and one that was more independent from Mayor Daley. It seems from the experience of the past few years (Walmart, Big Box Living Wage Ordinance, clean power ordinance, parking meter privitization, etc. etc.), those hopes have been dashed. Here is just one more example of how tone deaf the council is to the concerns of working class Chicagoans...

From a UNITE-HERE Local 1 press release:

For Immediate Release Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For questions please contact Annemarie Strassel at (312) 617-0495

City Council defers vote on Hotel Strike Notification Law
Law would give customers notice about strikes or lockouts that could affect the quality of their stay before they book hotel rooms

Chicago, Ill.— Today the City Council voted to re-refer the hotel strike notification law to the Finance Committee. This law, commonly referred to as the “Right to Know” consumer protection law, would protect Chicago visitors by requiring area hotels to notify customers of a strike or lockout 15 days or longer before making reservations.

Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (22nd Ward) first introduced the ordinance in May. After the ordinance was passed out of the Finance Committee on September 7th, it was referred to the full City Council for a vote today. Ike Carothers (29th Ward) introduced a motion to re-refer the legislation back to committee, which the Council ultimately voted in favor of by a narrow margin of 23 to 22, amid some confusion by Council members.

Hotel quality can be dramatically affected by a strike or lockout, which can threaten Chicago’s reputation as a top tier tourism and convention destination. According to the Chicago Convention and Tourism bureau, 132,000 jobs depend on the tourism industry. Now area hotel workers, visitors, and community supporters are calling on city leaders to take steps to ensure that visitors have the information they need to have the best experience possible.

“Today, aldermen missed an opportunity to defend hardworking people, their jobs, and the guests that come to our city,” says Kimmie Jordan, a housekeeper at the Cass Holiday Inn Hotel in downtown Chicago. “Our jobs depend on people coming to Chicago and having a positive experience, so they want to return again and again.”

A similar ordinance first came before City Council in 2005 but was narrowly defeated by a margin of 5 opposing votes.

The need for consumer protection is highlighted by the ongoing dispute at the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, the longest running strike in America. Over a thousand customers have complained about the hotel since the strike began, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the hotel such as undercooked food, dirty linens, broken elevators and torn carpets. The hotel has also failed seven building inspections in the last two years. Seven of the 15 Department of Health inspections of the Congress Hotel since 2005 have found evidence of insects or rodents, including dead roaches and rat and mice droppings.

Unite Here Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.

For more information on the strike, go to

Dr. Luther Castillo and his hospital raided by Honduran army...

It appears that the Honduran army's harassment of Dr. Luther Castillo and his hospital continues. Dr. Castillo was in Chicago in August to bring attention to the situation in Honduras. You can hear an interview with him and his fellow Honduran democracy activists on the August 9th 2009 episode of the Labor Express Radio...

You can also find out more about him at this previous entry on my blog...

After Dr. Castillo's visit, he was unable to return directly to Honduras because of concerns for his safety. He did return in early September, however, it is clear that the danger to him and his colleagues continues.

This report comes from La Voz de los Abajo...

This is to make known that on October 7th at 6am three army patrols broke down the doors and stormed the first Garifuna hospital in Honduras, located on the Atlantic Coast.

Alexy Lanza of La Voz de los de Abajo interviewed Dr. Luther Castillo, a young Garifuna doctor and community organizer who is the founder and director of the hospital that is bears the name "For the Health of Our People" (Luaga Hatuadi Waduheno in the Garifuna language)
The hospital and clinic is dedicated to providing the most important health services to the indigenous communities isolated on the Atlantic Coast. After graduating from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba in 2005, Dr. Castillo returned to the coast of Honduras and led the construction of the first "Garifuna hospital" which now serves 20,000 people in the area. The hospital opened in December 2007 and Dr. Castillo was named "Honduran Doctor of the Year for 2007 by the International Rotary Clubs of Tegucigalpa. Since the military coup on June 28, 2009, Dr. Castillo and the hospital have been subject to many threats of closure and other attacks by the military.

AL: Please tell me Dr. Luther what happened yesterday, on the morning of Wednesday October 7th?

Dr. Castillo: I am extremely worried about the situation at the hospital. As you well know, the repression, intimidation, extra-judicial executions, the fabrication of criminal charges - the grave violations of human rights against the resistance movement against the coup have been worsening. Yesterday three carloads of army troops arrived, broke down the doors to the hospital and searched everything.

AL: What time did this occur?

Dr. Castillo: It was about 6 in the morning which is the time of shift change for the doctors. The doctor who has stayed all night goes to rest and between 6-7 am the other shift arrives. The army took advantage of this to enter the hospital. The most alarming thing is that they used the pretext of a raid in search of drugs; they said that they had received information that there were narcotraficantes at the hospital.

AL: Narcotics traffic at the first hospital in service to the indigenous communities. What was that about?

Dr. Castillo: Intimidation. They want to wipe us out, they want to shut us up. We have been strongly denouncing the coup d’etat and we are a part of this people in resistance that refuse to accept a military coup. After the coup they took away our standing as a hospital and reclassified us as a medical center. We had achieved the classification of hospital due to the recognition we received for the high quality and commitment of our work. President Zelaya, through our work, advocated for us and that was how we were established as a hospital. So what is happening now is that they want to intimidate us and destoy us, but we won’t give them that pleasure.

AL: Why do you think they are doing this?

Dr. Castillo: Look, what we think is that they want to use this fabrication to hurt the reputation and all of the work that we have been doing in favor of the people. We are worried that they will come again and confiscate the medical equipment that we have been able to obtain through donations from different organizations and people from around the world. So we are denouncing this, to alert everyone who knows our work.

AL: Tell me, did they arrest anyone during the raid? What is the situation in the hospital now? Is it closed or open?

Dr. Castillo: Fortunately they did arrest anyone, but we are in constant fear that they might come back and takeover the hospital. It is not closed but continues open and we continue to do our work as doctors taking health to our people.

This was a short interview with Dr. Luther Castillo on October 9th. The diagnosis we can make from these events is that it makes very obvious the plan of the coup government to fabricate criminal charges against the leaders of the popular organizations that are an essential part of the resistance movement against the military coup in Honduras. This is a common practice that different repressive, dictatorial and right wing governments in Latin America have practiced. - To intimidate, to silence, to repress, to fabricate charges so that later they can wipe out the resistance movement that has popular support.

We call n the national and international community to join in denouncing any act of repression that arises from this incident. This has been an act of intimidation not only against the medical team of the hospital but against all of the communities that it serves.

We ask that letters be sent to Congressional representatives and Senators expressing not only our concern and outrage but also demanding an end to the violations of human rights by the golpistas and demanding the return to constitutionality of Honduras. We demand that those guilty of all these crimes against the Honduran people related to the coup d’etat be punished.

We Demand:
The immediate return of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales
The return to constitutionality
No to the illegal elections called by the de facto government.
Respect for the popular vote - Yes to the national constituent assembly.
Stop the violations of human rights.

Honduras belongs to all the people and no just to the oligarchy -- we will struggle to the end!
Because solidarity is the tenderness of the people. WE ARE ALL HONDURAS!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UE Fundraiser: See a an advance screening of "Capitalism: A Love Story"...

Come see an advance screening of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story...

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Kerasotes City North,
2600 N. Western Av,

Sponsored by UE, organizers of the Republic occupation.
Proceeds go towards UE's innovative education and organizing projects, such as Warehouse Workers for Justice.

Michael Moore's new movie has some great sections on the victory of the Republic Windows and Doors workers, members of UE Local 1110, here in Chicago last winter. Moore's film crew was the only one allowed inside the factory during the occupation. He has agreed to let UE have an advance showing of the film this Thursday night as a fundraiser so that we can help additional workers fight and win the way the Republic workers did.

We hope you can make it to the screening and that you forward this email to anyone who you think might be interested in attending.

United Electrical Workers

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hotel Workers take the streets...

Here are some updates on the struggle of 6,000 Chicago hotel workers for a fair contract with 30 hotels in the Chicago area, straight from their union, UNITE-HERE, Local 1...

Hundreds arrested in civil disobedience action
Fighting layoffs and cuts, hospitality workers take a stand,
saying big corporations like Chicago‐based Hyatt have gone too far

(Chicago, IL) – Nearly 200 hospitality workers and community supporters were arrested today as part of a non-violent civil disobedience action in downtown Chicago. The action, witnessed by over 600 workers and community supporters, took place in front of the Park Hyatt Hotel amid an escalating local labor dispute and a growing public backlash against Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels for the recent firing of 100 Hyatt housekeepers in Boston. Hotel workers in San Francisco also staged a major civil disobedience action in conjunction today.

After months of layoffs and chronic understaffing, hospitality workers in Chicago and across the country are criticizing their employers for contributing to the nation’s unemployment problem. While companies like Chicago‐based Hyatt have taken home record profits in the last decade, many people who work for them are living in poverty. Now hospitality companies are using the economy as an excuse to further squeeze workers and communities—eliminating jobs, trying to roll back benefits, and getting a smaller pool of workers to risk injury by working harder and faster. Today in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco—workers are fighting back.

Wearing their uniforms and placards reading “I am not afraid” as they got arrested, workers sent a message that they will not allow companies to abuse the fear and uncertainty of the economic downturn to push workers backward. Participants in the arrest also included community leaders like Chicago Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward) and Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Area workers point to Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels as an emblem of how corporations are taking advantage of working people in tough times. In Boston on August 31, Hyatt Hotels fired 100 long term housekeepers and replaced them with low wage workers from a subcontractor, after telling the workers they were training “vacation” replacements. Locally, Hyatt has also eliminated jobs, laying off workers while having others work overtime to avoid paying benefits. Hyatt Regency Chicago laid off 199 of its 1020 workers (19.5%) from November 2008 to March 2009, while 46% of its staff worked overtime between January and April 2009.

“What the Hyatt did to those housekeepers in Boston is unthinkable,” says Claudette Evans, who works in the housekeeping department at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. “I’m getting arrested for those ladies, for myself, and my mother who’s also been a housekeeper at the Hyatt for 14 years, because our future, our health and our jobs depend on it.”

Earlier in the day, a delegation of 40 women working in Chicago hotels appealed to Hyatt owner Penny Pritzker, who was giving a talk at the Sheraton Chicago, to bring back the “Hyatt 100” housekeepers in Boston.

Nationwide, the hospitality industry has maintained its fundamental profitability by squeezing workers. History shows that these companies may refuse to bring people back to work, even as the economy rebounds. Nationwide, hotels cut staff by 17% when tourism was down after 9/11—and never brought jobs back when profits soared in the years to follow.

The action comes amid union contract negotiations, affecting more than 10,000 hotel, food service, and casino workers in the region and the national campaign to bring back the fired Hyatt 100 in Boston.

Fired Boston housekeeper appeals to Penny Pritzker
Housekeeper delegation calls on Hyatt Director to rehire terminated workers

(Chicago, IL) . Angela Norena, a fired housekeeper from the Hyatt Harborside Hotel in Boston, appealed to Hyatt Hotels director Penny Pritzker this morning at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers to reverse Hyatt’s termination of approximately one hundred housekeepers at three Boston-area hotels. Norena was joined by union housekeepers in a delegation of twenty women from a number of Chicago hotels in calling on Pritzker to rehire the Boston group. Pritzker refused to listen to Norena’s concerns.

On August 31, Hyatt fired 100 long term housekeepers in three Boston-area hotels and replaced them with low wage workers from a subcontractor after telling the workers they were training “vacation” replacements. The housekeepers, most of whom were women who made approximately $15 per hour with benefits, were replaced with workers making
close to minimum wage and with no benefits.

Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels Corporation made $1.3 billion in profits from 2004 to 2008 and, as of August, is sitting on $1.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Hyatt is 85% owned by Chicago’s Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker is on Hyatt’s board of directors and is a first cousin of Hyatt chairman Thomas Pritzker. Penny Pritzker was at the Sheraton this morning to address
the 19th annual conference of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry.

The former Boston housekeeper was disappointed by Penny Pritzker’s reaction, but will continue to fight for her and her coworkers’ jobs back. “She is on Hyatt’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Pritzker family” said Angela Norena, who worked as a housekeeper at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel for 15 years. “If anyone can make Hyatt do the right thing, it’s
Penny Pritzker.”

Hyatt has garnered national attention because of its actions in Boston. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has committed to direct all state employees not to use Hyatt when traveling or for other purposes if Hyatt does not reinstate the fired housekeepers.

Later this afternoon, nearly 200 hospitality workers and community supporters will be arrested as part of a non-violent civil disobedience action in downtown Chicago in front of the Park Hyatt Hotel. Area workers point to Hyatt Hotels as an emblem of how corporations are taking advantage of working people in tough times. Workers and community allies in San Francisco are also participating in a civil disobedience action today aimed at Hyatt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hundereds detained in sports stadium in Honduras?...

NPR reported this morning rumours that in its crack down on protesters outside the Brazilian embassy, hundreds have been detained in a sports stadium in the area (disturbing echos from Latin Americas past). Here is a recent urgent action call from the Alliance for Global Justice...

Please write immediately to the UN missions members of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, from Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and others, IMMEDIATELY. The contact information for all the listed missions is below the sample letter. Demand that the United Nations immediately impose an economic blockaid on Honduras, a demand of the National Front of Resistance to the Coup against Honduras. The United Nations initiated a session today. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya yesterday arrived in Honduras, and is in the Brazilian Embassy. The defacto government is attacking protesters who have gathered around the Brazilian Embassy to protect the constitutionally elected President Manuel Zelaya. Dangerous quantities of tear gas are being used around the Brazilian embassy at a level that puts in danger the lives of the Brazilian diplomatic corps, President Zelaya, and neighbors of the Embassy.

According to radio reports in Honduras, protesters are being rounded up and held in stadiums. Live ammunition has been used against protesters along with extreme beatings. Masked men accompany police and military. Deaths of protesters are rumored. The offices of leading Honduran human rights organization COFADEH was attacked with tear gas. A curfew is in effect and scheduled to begin at 4 pm, and extreme repression during the curfew is expected. Over the past 88 days the Resistance Front has maintained constant protests of thousands of protester daily.

Esteemed Ambassador: I write to request that in your capacity as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council you propose a resolution to obligate members of the United Nations to impose a trade bock aid against Honduras. In this way the non recognition of the de facto regime that came to power through a military coup on June 28, 2009 will be made effective. Today the coup regime is undertaking a direct attack on the Embassy of Brazil, where the constitucional President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya is located. They are using dangerous levels of tear gas, and have fired live ammunition; acts that put at risk the lives and wellbeing of hundreds of members of Brazils diplomatic corpse and thousands of people in the street and homes around the embassy. This repression is the latest in 88 days of repression by the coup government. For this reason it is urgent that an economic blockaid be imposed and that the possibility of a peace keeping mission be discussed.


United Nations Missions in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations CanadaE-mail: or prmny@international.gc.caTelephone: 212-848-1100 Fax: (1) 212-848-1195, -1192, -1128

United States 212-415-4053

United KingdomUK@UN.intTelephone: (1) (212) 745 9200Fax:1 (212) 745 9316

Francefrance@franceonu.orgTelephone : 1 (212) 702 4900 Fax : 1 (212) 421 6889


IndiaIndia@un.intTel: 212-490-9660 Fax: 212-490-9656

NetherlandsTel: (212) 519-9500 Fax: (212)

New ZealandTel: (212) 826 1960Fax: (212) 758 0827Email

NorwayPhone: 212-421-0280 Fax: 212-688-0554E-mail:

Swedensweden@un.intTelephone: (212) 583-2500Fax: 212 583 2549

This Alert was prepared by the Campaign for Labor Rights.
We can be reached by phone at 202-544-9355 or 520-243-0381. You can also email for more information.
Visit our website at:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PRI's The World repeats coup leaders propaganda...

PRI's The World, a generally good international news program on public radio, reported on the stand off between Zelaya and the coup leaders taking place in Honduras. Unfortunately what was OK coverage, was ruined at the end of the piece when the reporter repeated the coup leader's propaganda that Zelaya was trying to find a way to run again for president in November and that is why he was removed from the country. This myth is repeated as fact in the U.S. media with almost every story on the situation in Honduras. It is the one thing that has lead some "progressives" to question the efforts to bring Zelaya back into the presidency. We really need to respond to this misinformation when ever we hear it.

You can go here to post a comment on the piece...

I have already but for some reason my post is still "awaiting moderation."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zelaya in Honduras!!!...

This is from Vicki Cervantes of La Voz de los de Abajo...

!Todos Somos Honduras - We are all Honduras!
Tuesday - Martes September 22 Septiembre
Plaza Federal Plaza - Jackson and Dearborn St.
Celebrate this step in ending the coup and demand the "Golpistas Out Now!"
No More Repression!
Celebramos este paso hacia el fin del golpe de estado y dicimos "!Fuera Golpistas Ahora!"
!No Mas Represion!

Some of you have already seen the early announcements. According to Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa and TeleSur, Mel Zelaya arrived in Tegucigalpa late yesterday and spent the night in the Brazilian Embassy. Today he announced his presence and has been interviewed (TeleSur has the telephone interview with him up on its website). The streets near the embassy are filling up with people and people are arriving in Tegucigalpa from outside the city in large numbers. The reaction from the coup government and military is unclear, the risk to Zelaya and the risk of repression against the people is high.
We need to keep up our solidarity and our pressure on the U.S. government as well.
We will send out more info as fast we can.
La Voz de los de Abajo - Chicago
Contact: Alexy Lanza (312) 656-8655

Here are some links to news reports...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So much to say, so much to do, so little time…

Once again I must apologize for my lack of entries recently – especially with so much going on locally, nationally and internationally. Working for a living sucks!!! Especially when your job requires you to work the hours of two full time jobs.


AFL-CIO Convention Wraps Up in Pittsburg: New Leadership, New Direction?

The 26th Convention of the AFL-CIO officially comes to a close tomorrow. And it has been an eventful convention on a number of fronts. But the question remains – is organized labor in the United States ready to transform itself into a more democratic, militant, broad based social movement, or will the concessionary, cooperationist, business unionism of the past half century continue to prevail in the House of Labor.

Richard Trumka, the new head of the federation certainly comes out of a union with a militant, fighting history – the United Mine Workers of America. Will the U.S. trade union movement of the next decade look more like the Pitston strike of 1989 (or better yet the CIO of John L. Lewis)? But of course John Sweeney came out of SEIU, when SEIU still represented the progressive, leading edge of the labor movement. Yet as early on as the betrayal of the Staley Workers in Decatur Illinois, it was clear that the transformation many hoped Sweeney would bring, just wasn’t going to happen.

There are some positive signs coming out of the convention. The most touted so far is the passage of a resolution supporting a single payer health care system. This is a tremendous historic victory since for the past few decades labor has been divided on this question. Some unions like NNOC (National Nurses Organizing Committee) have been stead fast supporters of single payer. But the majority of unions have supported reforms short of single payer, more in-line with the Obama approach. However, the convention also passed resolutions supporting the what I call mickey mouse proposals (others call mish-mash proposals) coming out of the Democrats in Congress and the White House. So where does the AFL-CIO really stand? And more importantly what will they organize for and put their resources behind? For NNOC’s press release on this go here...

Another perhaps positive sign is something I heard from Mischa Gaus at Labor Notes earlier tonight. At the beginning of the Convention last weekend, main stream media reports indicated that the AFL-CIO seemed to be accepting the fact that EFCA will only move forward if it’s heart, card check (or majority sign-up) is removed. According to Mischa, such a position was never taken at the convention and to the contrary, there were frequent pronouncements that the federation would stand its ground in regard to EFCA. Will see.

Tune into next Monday’s episode of Labor Express Radio for more on the 2009 AFL-CIO convention.

Its Time to Get Serious in the Fight for a National Health Care Program:

Let’s face folks – we have been out organized on this one. This is just another example of how well the right has learned the lessons of the 60’s – the power of mass movements – and turned that power against us. And of course they have the money to fund it in a way we can’t match. But personally I don’t understand why the pro-health care reform forces have proven so weak. I know that like most of the liberal left, many in the health care reform movement (especially the unions) fell for the old, “let’s give him some time” mantra in regards to Obama. But come on now. By early August at the latest it should have been clear to all what a failing strategy that was. I mean seriously, the pro-health care reform forces should easily be able to organize a massive demonstration in D.C. that would make the 75,000 right wing nut cases that attended the 9-12 Fox news generated media spectacle look like a small family re-union (and an inbreed family at that).

It really is time to take this thing to the streets. It is just not going to happen without serious mass pressure. The problem now is that it will be hard for the movement to unify around a common demand at this point. Those of us who know the only solution to the health care crisis is a single payer, non-profit, universal health care program (Medicare for All) are not going to give in into the “pragmatists” who feel the only hope at this point is to support the Democrats joke of a health care reform proposal. The contradiction here was evident at the AFL-CIO convention where both resolutions supporting single payer and supporting the Democrats proposals passed. What does that mean? What will labor push for now?

Let me give a word of advice to the “pragmatists”, you are lousy negotiators!!! Man, you guys have never haggled at good old fashioned Maxwell Street style flea market have you? YOU DON’T START WITH THE COMPROMISE OPTION! You always ask for the absolutely impossible to start with. As my friend Jorge Mujica from the immigrant’s rights movement puts it, you ask not just for heaven, but for the “penthouse of heaven.” It never ceases to amaze me how the liberal life has zero negotiating ability. They always start at the compromise position. Even if our so called reps in D.C. can’t bargain for sh_t, there is no reason for us to be so lame. If you going to march in the streets, if your going to phone barrage Congress, if you plan to organize your own “townhalls” DEMAND SINGLE PAYER, even if you think its impossible. Of course us single payer supporters know it is really the only option, everything else is worse than a band-aid on a gushing wound.

So lets start the groundswell. Go here NOW to send a letter to Congress demanding real health care reform…

And check out this great new documentary on the real death panels, the HMO industry…

How can we get these stories out there more? We got to demand the main stream press address the real human costs of the for profit health care system.


The SK strikers remain strong. You can support them by attending an action at Sears HQ this Friday…

Tell SEARS: STOP Doing Business with Companies that Illegally Take Away Workers’ Health Insurance!

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 18th, 2009
12 NOON – 1 PM

WHERE: Sears store
2 N. State St. (State and Madison), downtown Chicago

The Teamsters Local 743 members who make SK and Craftsman tools, sold by Sears, have been on strike since August 25th.

We are sending a message to Sears that it is not okay to do business with companies that are breaking the law!

For additional information please contact:

Sara Hainds or Makia Burns (773) 254-7460 or

Visit the website

And the hotel workers are preparing to ratchet up their fight for a fair contract. UNITE-HERE held civil disobedience trainings for its members this week. I expect some really excitement in the coming weeks. Tune into next Monday’s Labor Express Radio for more.


The situation in Honduras looks increasingly bleak, despite some movement in the right direction from Obama. There are a number of ways you can support the struggle of the people of Honduras…

Send an urgent action email to Congress and the President protesting the Honduran military’s participation in joint training exercises with the U.S. military…

Go to Honduras in October!...
Delegation to Honduras - Todos Somos Honduras - We Are All Honduras
Tentative Dates: October 24-31 - 2009
Organized by La Voz de los de Abajo and Casa Morazan
Contact: or call 312-656-8655

And the situation of the Kraft Workers in Argentina continues to hang on a knife edge. Here’s how you can support the Kraft workers…

International Solidarity picket
@ Kraft Plants in Chicago & Champaign, IL

Workers in Argentina are fighting a heroic battle. They need our international solidarity to keep fighting this Giant Corporation. Lets picket Kraft plants in Chicago and Champaign! We can make a difference and help the workers in Argentina defeat Kraft!
Say NO to KRAFT campaign
International Solidarity Picket
Thursday, September 17, 2009
3:30pm - 5:00pm
Kraft Plant
7300 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL

more info:

Lastly, we all had the pleasure of learning of Rich Gilman’s arrest last week. Gilman is the former owner of Republic Windows & Doors and a real a-hole. Read about his arrest here…

Monday, September 7, 2009

6,000 hotel workers at 30 Chicago hotels in major contract fight…

On Monday, August 31st, the union contract for 6,000 hotel workers in Chicago expired. Now hotel workers from 30 Chicago area hotels, all members of UNITE-HERE Local 1, are engaged in a major contract battle with billionaire hotel chains that are trying to use the current economic crisis to demand major concessions in work rules, work hours, wages and health care benefits.

Listen to the 9-7-09 episode of Labor Express Radio for more on the situation…

Below are some documents provide by UNITE-HERE that detail the reality of the enormous profits generated by the major hotel chains at the expense of the lives and health of their employees…

Friday, September 4, 2009

The PilsenProle guide to Labor Day 2009…

This year’s Labor Day is packed with activities. Here is a list of labor solidarity stuff happening next Monday…

10:00 AM
Legalization for All Labor Day Immigrant Rights March
Meet at Union Park (Ashland & Lake) at 10:00 AM
At 11:00 AM March will advance down Washington Blvd. to Federal Plaza.
Rally – 12 Noon at Federal Plaza

For flyer click below…

10:30 AM
Rally Outside the Congress Hotel - 520 S. Michigan Ave.

WHAT: Community delegation to deliver an open letter to the management of the Congress Hotel calling for an end to the 6-year strike.

WHO: Alderman Toni Preckwinkle; Alderman Toni Foulkes; Tim Drea, Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO; Rev. Dr. Rita Root, Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Calvin Morris, Community Renewal Society; Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago; Rev. Larry Dowling, St. Agatha Catholic Church; and workers fighting for a fair contract at other Chicago hotels

WHY: As 6,500 Chicago hotel workers seek a new contract, the workers at the Congress Hotel continue their epic 6-year strike. The Congress is still offering housekeepers the 2002 wages of $8.83/hour, while other Chicago hotels pay $14.60. Now nearly 200 dignitaries are calling on the Congress Hotel to settle this strike.

2:00 PM
2nd Annual Labor Day Celebration in Historic Pullman
Sponsored by: The Illinois AFL-CIO, Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois Labor History Society, numerous other unions and social organizations.

11035 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
111th Street & Cottage Grove Ave.
Convenient via Metra Electric Line and CTA Red Line/Cottage Grove Bus
By Auto: 1/2 Mile west of I-94 (Bishop Ford/Calumet Expressway) - 111th St Exit. Plenty of on-street parking.

For more information, click below…

4:00 PM till 1:00 AM
Labor Beat T.V. - Labor Video Marathon

A Year of Labor Beat!
Eighteen special episodes produced by hard working people for working people covering labor issues from September 2008 though August 2009.
Labor Day - Sept 7, 2009
4:00 pm to 1:00 am
ECTV channel 6 - Evanston Cable

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Links related to the Aug. 31st episode of Labor Express Radio...

For more info on the strike at SK Hand Tools and how you can support the workers, go here...

For more info on NNOC's efforts to fight for a single payer, non-profit, national health care program, go here...

Here is the info on the health care town hall meeting in Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky district...

Schakowsky Town Hall
Time: 6:30PM (Doors open at 5:00pm)
Monday, August 31st
Niles West High School - Auditorium
5701 Oakton St
Skokie, IL.

For more info on the workers at Kraft in Argentina, go here...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Teamsters on Strike Need Your Support!

A message from Temsters Local 743...
The strikers at SK Hand Tools need community support to maintain the strike lines - please forward this e-mail widely!

Workers at SK Hand Tools began an unfair labor practice strike at 5:30am on August 25, 2009 after trying for months to get their health care reinstated. The workers are being forced to either forego important medical check-ups and treatment or to go into debt putting the bills on their credit cards.

The strike lines are 24/7 at both locations and the strikers need people to join the lines in solidarity and to bring food, coffee, soda and water.

Chicago location: 3535 W. 47th St. Click here for the map.
Suburban location: 9500 W. 55th St. (McCook, near Brookfield and LaGrange) Click here for the map.

Please visit the Teamsters 743 website ( for more information.

In Solidarity, Sarah

You can download audio of my interviews with two of the strikers here...
Listen to Labor Express Radio this Monday at 10:00 AM on 88.7 FM for an update on the situation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alliance for Global Justice Urgent Action Alert on Honduras...

Honduras: Attack on Peaceful Protestors Escalates!

Please take action again to stop the Repression!

[This action alert comes to you from the Alliance for Global Justice and its member projects, the Nicaragua Network, the Campaign for Labor Rights, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and the Respect for Democracy Campaign.]

We have received this important alert from the Quixote Center. We urge you to take action! For more information, visit: and

Thank you for your calls to the U.S. State Department - please call again! The repression is escalating. Crackdowns are occurring in San Pedro Sula as well as Tegucigalpa. Police attacked the demonstrations with water cannons and tear gas and arrested more than 300 people in San Pedro Sula alone. Among those arrested were SITRATERCO union officials. The gathering places where people who have walked from across the country are staying are being militarized. Tear gas bombs have been dropped from helicopters. Our delegation [in Tegucigalpa] is accounted for and unharmed. They are now accompanying Honduran human rights workers and sending alarming reports. Police and military are rounding up people and taking them to places used for torture in the 1980's. Ambulances full of people with their faces smashed in and bodies beaten are racing to hospitals - among them is Marvin Ponce, a Honduran member of Congress who just met with State Department officials in Washington to denounce to coup. The Universidad Pedagogica and the STIBYS union hall (a private building which has served as the organizing center for the Anti-Coup resistance front) have been taken by the military and large numbers of people are reported detained. Human rights organizations fear they are being tortured.

Please call the State Department (202-647-4000) and the U.S. Ambassador Llorens in Tegucigalpa - 011- 504-236-9320 ext. # 4268.

You can also send the message below to your Senators and US Representative!

Give them this message: Violence is escalating and members of our International Delegation, including U.S. citizens, are currently accompanying human rights workers to locations where people are being detained. The US should denounce the extreme and widespread human rights violations being commited by the coup government in Honduras. The US should also freeze bank accounts and cancel ALL travel visas of those involved in the coup. The US should join UNASUR (the organization to which many South American countries belong) in declaring it will not recognize any election in Honduras unless Zelaya is previously reinstated as president. While some aid to Honduras has been cut off, Honduran human rights advocates say the US should cut off all aid to the coup government, including money for democracy building, elections, poverty reduction, road building, and HIV-AIDS, .
Alliance for Global Justice has, for two years in a row, received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America's largest independent evaluator of charities.

Garifuna medical doctor Luther Castillo still in exile, hospital closed...

I received word last night that Luther Castillo, one of the four human rights activists who visited Chicago last weekend remains in exile, elsewhere in Central America, because of threats of arrest by the military. Meanwhile, his hospital, the first to serve Honduras' Garifuna community, has been shut down by the coup regime.

For last Sunday's Labor Express Radio episode including an interview with the visiting Honduran human rights activists, go here...

Editorial on situation in Honduras from Organizer newspaper...

Honduras Resistance Deepens,
With Working Class at the Helm
International Labor Solidarity
Needed Urgently to Defeat the Coup

The Honduran people -- with the working class and their trade unions playing an increasing leadership role -- are on the move. Their revolutionary upsurge is shaking the fragile edifice of corporate-dominated politics across the continent and creating frictions within the U.S. ruling establishment itself.

As we go to press, a week-long nationwide general strike of teachers and public sector workers is under way. It is a political strike to press for the resistance movement's three central demands: (1) the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as the sole and legitimate president of Honduras, (2) a referendum on convening a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution, and (3) the immediate punishment of all the perpetrators of the June 28 coup for their crimes against the people.

Up till now, there had been three two-day strikes (all on Thursdays and Fridays) called by the three main trade union federations in Honduras, all of which are part of the National Front Against the Coup. All the main decisions regarding what to do next in the struggle are made by a weekly Delegates Assembly of the Front, which is held at the hall of the Beverage Industry Workers Union (STIBYS). The Delegates Assembly -- which brings together more than 800 mandated representatives from unions and popular organizations throughout Honduras -- has become the nerve center and coordinating body of the resistance movement.
The recent strike has been more widely followed than the previous two-day strikes. In addition to the teachers and State office workers, the workers and students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras hit the bricks, as did the workers at the National Agrarian Institute, the electrical workers of the Empresa Nacional de Energía, some private-sector workers, and the workers at the National Weather Service.

Also, on August 11, tens of thousands of people converged from all corners of the country into Honduras' two main cities -- Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Most of the participants in this National March of Popular Resistance had left their villages and towns on August 6, the day that the unlimited general strike began, in response to the call from the National Front Against the Coup. Most of the marchers pledged to remain in these two cities throughout the week to participate in the planned demonstrations, roadblocks and plant/campus occupations.
In Tegucigalpa, a mass march of 20,000 people -- with union banners displayed prominently -- buoyed people's determination to continue the struggle. One of the chants throughout the march was, "No Somos Cuatro Gatos!" -- or, we are not just a small handful of people (literally we are not four cats) -- a reply to the Micheletti media machine, which keeps trying to convince the world that 45 days after the coup things have "returned to normal," with only a handful of discontents -- four cats -- stirring up trouble.

Washington's Conundrum:
It is now public knowledge that a wing of the Republican Party helped in one form or another to prepare the June 28 coup that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya -- with hawks like John Negroponte, Otto Reich and current U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens in the forefront of this effort. Meetings between Llorens and the high military command took place throughout the entire week leading up to the coup.

The mass public outrage that swept the Americas in the aftermath of the coup compelled the Organization of American States (OAS) to call for the "immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras." Having military coups break out in a continent marked by growing revolutionary upheavals -- especially after President Barack Obama's public pledge to "turn the page" on the era of military dictatorship of past decades -- posed a serious risk to the overall position of U.S. imperialism in the region. Obama and all the heads of state in the Western Hemisphere voted in favor of the OAS resolution.

No sooner had those votes been taken, however, than the U.S. State Department, under Hillary Clinton, set out to subvert the OAS resolution by drafting a script for a "mediated settlement" in Honduras that legitimized the perpetrators of the June 28 coup. One week later, Clinton anointed a credible regional leader to serve as the mediator for this U.S.-initiated plan: President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. (Two of Clinton's associates, Lanny Davis and Bennet Ratcliff are, in fact, running strategy for the coup government.)

The Arias Plan calls for the return of Zelaya to Honduras BUT only if he accepts to form a "government of national reconciliation" with the perpetrators of the coup, if he renounces his effort to poll the Honduran people on convening a Constituent Assembly that would draft a new Constitution, and if he drops his call to bring the coup leadership to trial for their crimes.

Zelaya accepted this plan, while emphasizing that the central question for him was point no. 1 of the seven points -- that is, his immediate return to Honduras. But the de-facto government of Roberto Micheletti -- better known in Honduras as "Pinocheletti" -- rejected the Arias Plan and even went so far as to deny visas to a delegation from the OAS sent to discuss the plan. The top military brass no doubt fear that a return of Zelaya, no matter how conditioned and politically hamstrung, would be seized upon by millions of mobilized people in Honduras and throughout the region as a blow to the de-facto government.

This rejection of the Arias Plan by Micheletti has posed a conundrum for Washington -- and for Obama, in particular. Getting Zelaya on board with the Arias Plan did not do the trick. The National Front Against the Coup, which is the voice of the fighting resistance movement, categorically rejected the Arias Plan, as did many governments in the Americas, following the lead of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. There is widespread awareness in Honduras that the U.S. government -- one wing of which was implicated in the coup -- has no right to violate the Honduran people's right to self-determination by imposing unacceptable conditions for the return of Zelaya.

This did not, however, prevent U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens from personally requesting over the weekend of August 8-9 that the National Front Against the Coup get on board with the Arias Plan "as the sole means of preventing more violence and ensuring a peaceful outcome" ( No doubt Llorens was hoping to find at least one taker within the Front leadership who could be bought off and wielded to show that there is now a "reasonable" wing of the movement that approves a negotiated settlement with Micheletti.

But here, too, Llorens was rebuffed. On August 11, the National Front issued a new declaration rejecting Llorens' overtures and reaffirming the call for the unconditional and immediate reinstatement of Zelaya as president and the convening of a Constituent Assembly to draft a Constitution that would replace the 1982 Constitution, drafted by a previous military dictatorship to protect the oligarchy and enshrine the monopoly of political power in the two parties of the ruling class: the Liberals and Conservatives.

Stalling and buying time for the de-facto regime, with the hope that the movement would slowly wither on the vine, has been another tactic deployed by U.S. imperialism. The desired goal is to weather the storm until November 2009, when new presidential elections will be held. But not only has the resistance movement not ebbed, it has grown by the day. And now the National Front Against the Coup has issued a statement announcing that if Zelaya is not properly reinstated as the sole legitimate president of Honduras, they will call for a boycott of the coup-organized November elections.

Yet another option is to begin the wholesale repression of the resistance movement. But this, too, is backfiring. On August 6, for example, the National Guard attacked a peaceful demonstration in Tegucigalpa, killing one teacher: Roger Abraham Vallejo. The following day, the mass protests were more than twice the size. And with all the international attention focused on Honduras, such repression cannot go under the radar -- nor can it be easily justified. After all, Obama is still on record calling for the return of Zelaya to Honduras.

International Labor Solidarity Needed Urgently

The growing class confrontation in Honduras requires the immediate, visible and effective solidarity of the international workers' movement, particularly of the international trade union movement. The workers, peasants, youth and indigenous people of Honduran are putting their lives on the line in this struggle for democracy, workers' rights, and economic and social justice. They need the active support of working people the world over, particularly in the United States, to help them carry forth and win their struggle.

In response to the "Appeal from the National Front Against the Coup to Working People the World Over," the 9-million-member Unified Workers Central (CUT) of Brazil voted on August 7 to call for Continental Days of Mobilizations on August 10-14 in solidarity with the people of Honduras. This appeal has been heeded widely across the continent, with mass demonstrations in most major cities demanding that their respective governments sever all diplomatic ties with the military regime in Honduras and insist on the implementation of the initial OAS resolution.

In the United States, we have perhaps the most critical role to play. An August 8 solidarity message from the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice to the Honduran trade union movement lays out our tasks in the United States in precise terms:
"We are painfully aware that the U.S. government, by its refusal to cut off all aid and arms to the Honduran military and coup plotters, becomes complicit in this attack on the constitutional order and democratic rights of the people of Honduras. Words by the Obama administration that are not matched by strong actions to cut off all funds and guns to the conspirators are empty gestures.

"We demand that our government cut off all aid and arms to and all commerce with the perpetrators of this criminal coup and the oligarchs, corporations and other forces that conspire with them directly or collude with them by their silence. The coup would not last a week if the U.S. did this, froze all the assets of the plotters and called upon the international community to do the same. Corporations that continue to do business in Honduras should be barred from doing business in the United States.

"President Zelaya must be returned to office in Honduras immediately and without conditions. The conspirators against him should be arrested and brought to trial for their crimes against the people. We pledge to support you in any way we can until such time as the president, the constitutional order and democracy are restored in Honduras. The working class and labor movement of Honduras shall prevail. You shall consign the forces of darkness and reaction to the past."

Indeed. With the aid of the international labor movement, beginning with that of the U.S. labor movement, the Honduran working class and labor movement of Honduras can and shall prevail!
Why the Deep Aspiration to a Constituent Assembly
[Note: Following are excerpts from an article by internationally recognized Honduran writer Helen Umaña. The article appeared under the title "The Fear of a Two-Letter Word," referring to a "Sí" vote -- Spanish for "Yes" -- in the June 28 non-binding opinion poll on whether or not a Constituent Assembly should be convened to draft a new Constitution. The excerpts have been translated by The Organizer.]

On June 28, I had hoped to cast my ballot for a "Sí" -- or "yes" -- vote on the "fourth ballot box," or "Cuarta Urna." Like so many others, I saw this referendum on convening a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution as a path for a change that would collectively benefit the historically marginalized sectors of our society: the peasants, workers, and ethnic minorities. ...
It was finally time to modify a Constitution whose deficiencies are glaring, with the endorsement of a majority of our citizens and following a full public discussion.

To state, as the perpetrators of the coup have done (only to be echoed by a servile media), that what Mel [President Manuel Zelaya] wanted to accomplish with this "fourth ballot" was to secure his re-election on November 29, 2009, is without a doubt the greatest lie and distortion in the political history of our country. The hypothetical Constitution -- as it depended on whether the people would vote "Sí" -- would not have been drafted and approved until newly elected deputies had convened as a National Constituent Assembly to undertake this task. And this could not have taken place until next year, well after Mel had left office.

When I first learned of the coup, I was sickened. The powers that be had resorted to military force, with the assistance, or at the very least the tacit approval, of the empire to the North, to abort what could have been a journey to a more just and equitable society, to deal a death blow to the possibility of realizing our long-held dream: that we could begin the building a new society where the most urgent needs of the population -- food, healthcare, education, housing, jobs -- could be met.

The very idea that the people could be consulted about something of this import, and that a new Constitution could be drafted to remedy the grave injustices enshrined in the current magna carta, was met with great enthusiasm by the people.

Never before had our humble but proud people -- those who live in shantytowns or on the edges of precipices in forgotten canyons -- been told they could express themselves on such a significant issue. Never before.

The coup was the awkward response by the ruling elite, by the twin parties of the landowners and oligarchs, to this human wave that was becoming conscious of its true interests. ... But the last word hasn't been said. Not by a long shot.

Eyewitness Report - Tegucigalpa - Wednesday, August 12th...

(Translated from a telephone report filed by Alexy Lanza at 9:35 pm Chicago time - translation by La Voz de los de Abajo).

Tear gas was fired directly into the crowds of protesters, rubber bullets and truncheons were used to disperse the thousands of Hondurans who had marched through the city to the National Congress today to protest against the coup and demand restitution of the constitutional government of Mel Zelaya.

There were many injuries and arrests - The soldiers and police, heavily armed and in full combat gear acting against unarmed men and women of all ages. In an unforgettable moment, I watched as a congressional Deputy from the anti-coup leftist party the Democratic Unification (UD), Marvin Ponce was attacked by at least 12 policemen and brutally beaten. He was seriously injured and was taken to the hospital; witnesses reported that at the hospital the police continued to beat and torment Ponce, interfering with his medical treatment.

As the police increased their violent sweep of the area I joined the rest of the protesters in fleeing the area; trying to avoid arrest or beatings or worse. I made my way to the Francisco Morazan National Autonomous University, which has been held by the students as part of the anti-coup resistance for weeks. The University has also been an organizing center and has provided shelter for people coming in from the rural areas to join in the protest movement. When I got to the University, people were trickling in from the downtown area. I saw one of the leaders from the Garifuna organization (OFRAHNI) who told me almost that a large number of compañeros from their organization were detained in the repression at the Congress.

Suddenly a large number of heavily armed soldiers arrived and attacked with tear gas, and rubber bullets forcing their way into university. They began arresting and beating the students and were able to seize control of at least a large part of the university. As the attack continued, I was forced to run from the troops and got away.

Today’s mobilizations were the second day of massive peaceful marches that began yesterday. Thousands of Hondurans responded to the call for increased mobilization by walking for as many as 5 days from the farthest corners of rural Honduras in order to get to one of the two major cities, Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Zula. Yesterday’s protests were not repressed but today was another story. There have also been increasing attacks of the death-squad type. Today, I spoke with Rafael Alegria from Via Campesina in Honduras who told me that last night (August 11th) after the day of mobilizations, at about 11:30 pm, the Via Campesina center was riddled with bullets fired by men who pulled up in front of the center in a civilian SUV. No one was injured, but the message is clear. Via Campesina is another organization that has offered its offices as an organizing center and shelter and Alegria has been detained and released and now has another threat of detention against him.

The defacto coup government and its military are increasing the violence again to try and do away with the resistance movement of the Honduran people who are the only real obstacle standing in the way of the oligarchy's plans. The National Front for Resistance Against the Coup has called for the mobilizations to continue tomorrow beginning at 8 am.

Everyone from the social organizations to the people in the streets who don’t belong to any organization, are calling for international solidarity to come to their aid in any way possible. They have been in the struggle for more than 40 days and need all of our help to continue.

(Alexy Lanza lives in Chicago and is a member of La Voz de los de Abajo, Casa Morazan and Producciones EN EL OJO-independent media)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PERRO Art show opens Friday...

Pollution in Pilsen
Student Fellowship Art Show
Friday, August 14 – September 8

Pollution in Pilsen: The work of local Students documenting the pollution in their neighborhood.

Art show Opening at the Casa Aztlan Gallery, 1831 S Racine, 2nd Floor Friday, Aug 14, 6 PM

All are welcome to learn about the sources of pollution that are affecting everyone in Pilsen!

For more information contact PERRO at 312 502 7867 or or visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photos from today's marches in Honduras against the coup...

Excellent article on U.S. links to Honduran coup...

This article by Conn Hallinan at Foreign Policy in Focus lays out the details of the various U.S. operatives connected to the coup in Honduras which the Honduran human rights activists I interviewed for last Sunday's episode of Labor Express mentioned in that interview. For an mp3 of last sunday's Labor Express Radio program, go here...

Honduran Coup: The U.S. Connection
Conn Hallinan August 6, 2009

Editor: Jen Doak

Foreign Policy In Focus

While the Obama administration was careful to distance itself from the recent coup in Honduras — condemning the expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya to Costa Rica, revoking Honduran officials' visas, and shutting off aid — that doesn't mean influential Americans aren't involved, and that both sides of the aisle don't have some explaining to do.

The story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup is that Zelaya — an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power.

That story is a massive distortion of the facts…

For the rest of the article go here…

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friends and family of J-Def hold anti-violence march in Pilsen...

Pictures of repression in Honduras...

The four Honduran human rights activists who visited Chicago this weekend brought with them disturbing photos of the deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras following the June 28th coup...

International Human Rights Mission releases a report on the worsening human rights situation in Honduras...

International Observation Mission for the Human Rights Situation in Honduras Preliminary Report
Written by International Observation Mission, Translation by Laura Jung, Lena Mortensen, and Adrienne Pine

Thursday, 06 August 2009

Confirmed systematic human rights violations in Honduras since the coup d’etat


i. Introduction
An International Human Rights Commission composed of fifteen independent professionals (legal experts, journalists, anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, and human rights experts) from Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, Nicaragua, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay, was formed in Honduras on July 17 to verify human rights violations that have occurred in Honduras during and since the coup d'état of June 28, with the aim of presenting observations and recommendations concerning the situation to the OAS, the UN the European Union and their member States.
Divided into four working groups, the mission has received testimony concerning human rights abuses in various parts of the Honduran territory: Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Olancho and Colón. With this aim, interviews have been carried out with different human rights organizations and experts; representatives of social movements, unions and media organizations, journalists, members of the National Congress, representatives from political parties, the General State Prosecutor, the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, General Director of the National Police, international aid agencies, representatives from the United Nations, from the diplomatic corps, the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Public Defender, the Department of Immigration, and relatives of President Manuel Zelaya.
The International Mission is made up of fifteen individuals from the following human rights organizations and networks: International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA), FIAN International, the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES-Colombia), Austria-Suedwind, Human Rights Institute of the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas (IDHUCA -El Salvador), Association Pro-Human Rights in Peru (APRODEH), the Institute for Policy Studies on Latin America and Africa (IEPALA, Spain), National Coordinator for Human Rights of Peru, Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ-Uruguay), Solidarity World (Belgium), and IBIS (Denmark), Continental Social Alliance, Alternative Connections, and the Center for Tricontinental Studies.

ii. Facts Confirmed by the Mission
1. On June 28, 2009 at 5:15 am, after violently overpowering the presidential guard charged with his protection, soldiers from the armed forces invaded the Presidential House and kidnapped the Constitutional President of Honduras, Mr. Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The capture of the president took place without the presentation of the corresponding court order. Immediately afterward he was transferred to an air base and then taken to Costa Rica, according to testimony taken from the President himself, by means of an airplane that took off at 6:10 am from Honduras.
The attack on the Presidential House was carried out using violence against the goods and occupants of the house. The facts described were reported by members of the guard of the overthrown Constitutional President, as well as by relatives of the President who were present in the Presidential House on the day of the coup.
2. On the morning of June 28, the Congress of the Republic issued a "condemnation of the conduct of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales for repeated violations of the Constitution and the law and failure to observe the resolutions and decisions issued by the relevant administrative bodies," removing him from his charge as President despite the lack of a constitutional or legal norm that would permit such a removal, and designating Roberto Micheletti Baín as "Constitutional President of the Republic" (Congressional Decree No. 141-09).
3. On June 30 of 2009, although it was dated June 30 of 2008, Executive Decree No. 011-2009 was issued, signed by Mr. Micheletti, suspending the following constitutional rights: personal liberty, "detention and confinement for more than 24 hours" (sic), freedom of association and assembly, the right to freedom of movement, to leave, enter, and stay within the national territory. The aforementioned rights are detailed in articles 69, 71,72, 78, 79, 81, 84, 99 of the Constitution. The Decree established that these rights would be suspended from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am throughout the country – in accordance with a State of Emergency - for a period of seventy-two hours from the passage of the Decree.
The indicated rule, - which as of today and 23 days after it was enacted continues in force – not only does not include a mechanism to extend the suspension of said rights, but also to date the Decree has not been published in the official newspaper of the Honduran Republic. It should also be noted that article 211 of the Constitution of Honduras stipulates that regulations must be published in order to be valid. The Honduran Constitution (art 187) contemplates the restriction or suspension of rights exclusively in the case of invasion of national territory, serious disturbance of the peace, epidemics or other disasters.
4. The order for the suspension of these fundamental rights of the Honduran people continues to be applied despite their expiration after the 72 hours originally stipulated in the decree that issued these restrictions. No subsequent decree exists that has formally extended the suspension of these rights. Furthermore, the hours for the curfew imposed in the capital and in the interior of the country are changed randomly on a daily basis. These changes are communicated via announcements in various media.
5. There is uncertainty about the schedule of the curfew and the scope of the suspension of rights. In questioning people about the curfew, officials interviewed by the Mission reported varying hours and expressed differences about the content.
6. The Mission was puzzled by the attitude of support for the coup demonstrated by the highest ranks of the Honduran Catholic church and by representatives of various evangelical churches, as well as by the implication of their active involvement in organizing demonstrations of support convened by and for the de facto government.
7. The International Mission for Human Rights in Honduras has identified the existence of grave violations of human rights since the coup d’etat. It has also confirmed the lack of protection for numerous individuals as a result of the inadequate response from the institutions that are constitutionally responsible for monitoring respect for the fundamental human rights of Hondurans. In particular, the Mission calls attention to grave omissions in the fulfillment of the functional obligations of the National Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Ramón Custodio.
8. The fundamental rights violations reported to the Mission included a significant number of extrajudicial executions, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, multiple threats, curtailment of freedom of expression and information, as well as undue restrictions on the freedom of movement, altogether signaling a clear context of political persecution that especially affects political and union leaders, human rights defenders, social activists, journalists, foreign citizens, and others.
9. Indeed, since the coup d’etat took place, and in relation to it, several distinct sources confirmed by the Mission have reported the following individual deaths: ISIS OBED MURILLO MENCIAS, 19 years old, killed by shots fired by the Armed Forces during the July 5 march on the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa by supporters of the ousted president; GABRIEL FINO NORIEGA, journalist with Radio Estelar in the Department of Atlántida, assassinated by seven bullet wounds on July 3 when he was leaving his place of work; RAMON GARCIA, a leader in the Democratic Unification party (UD), who was forced off a public transport vehicle upon returning from a demonstration and then riddled with bullets by unknown persons in the area of Santa Barbara; ROGER IVAN BADOS, ex-chairman of the textile worker union and current activist in the UD and the Popular Resistence Front (BP), who received death threats following the coup and was shot to death after being taken by force from his home on July 11 in San Pedro Sula; VICKY HERNANDEZ CASTILLO (SONNY EMELSON HERNANDEZ) , member of the LGTB community, killed in San Pedro Sula during the curfew by a bullet wound to the eye and displaying signs of strangulation, and an unidentified individual, wearing a t-shirt imprinted with the so called "cuarta urna," was found dead on July 3 in the "La Montañita" sector of Tegucigalpa, a place where a clandestine cemetery for extrajudicial executions during the 80’s was located. The Mission is continuing to verify other reports of extrajudicial executions.
10. From the Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH), the Mission has received related reports of forced disappearances of: ANASTASIO BARRERA, 55 years old, affiliated w/ith the National Union of Rural Workers, kidnapped in San Juan Pueblo, Atlántida, on July 5, 2009 by four individuals wearing police vests. It was also reported that MANUEL SEVILLA, 19 years old, was disappeared in San Pedro Sula on July 12 after returning from a demonstration.
11. In terms of violations of personal integrity, the Mission took note of threats taking place since the coup affecting diverse sectors of Honduran society: journalists critical of the de facto government, mayors, union members, leaders of popular organizations, human rights defenders, teachers, and congressional representatives. We have documented more than a hundred individuals in this situation.
12. We have received information relating to politically motivated uses of the legitimate State capacity to investigate and sanction individuals linked to criminal acts. A case that illustrates this tendency is the father of Isis Obed Murillo, DON JOSÉ DAVID MURILLO SÁNCHEZ, who was captured after giving testimony to the Prosecutor for Human Rights concerning the murder of his son. His capture and subsequent detention was justified on the basis of an old legal process that had been discontinued, and which was reactivated after Murillo turned to the justice system to report the murder of his son. From a reading of the dossier and interviews with judges, witnesses, lawyers and Mr. Murillo himself, a series of violations were deduced regarding the right to due process, defense, liberty, etc. Other reports received by the Mission concern legal proceedings related to officials of the deposed government.
13. According to information given to the Mission by the General Director of National Police, Mr. Escoto Salinas, at this time 1275 arrests related to curfew violations and other reasons related to the anti-coup protests have been registered.
14. With regard to the arbitrary arrests of foreigners, it bears mention that these have risen significantly in recent weeks; in partcular, the arrests of Nicaraguans who have been affected disproportionately by arbitrary and irregular detentions. During this week alone there have been warrantless forceful home entries and arbitrary detentions of at least 20 Nicaraguans.
15. On the 20th and 21st of July, members of the Mission confirmed that the human rights of the following Nicaraguan youths had been violated: JARLEN MANUEL TORRES TORRES, NOE EMILIO AVELLAN RUIZ, TULIO RAFAEL BENDAÑA MEJÍA, ALEJANDRO JOSÉ GARCÍA OBREGÓN, PABLO YASE BENOARIA, JORGE DANILO FLORES, FRANCISCO ISRAEL CONNOR, CARLOS DAVID BENDAÑA MEJÍA, JOSE GONZÁLEZ, DARWIN ANTONIO REYES LAZO, MIGUEL ÁNGEL AGUILAR FERNÁNDEZ, HENRY GEOVANY MARTÍNEZ LÓPEZ and DAVID JIRÓN. They were arbitrarily detained, accused of administrative visa-related infractions, were subject to bad treatment, were not offered consular assistance, nor were they held in adequate conditions of detention. In some cases they were held in police cells with other people accused of common crimes, and had access to neither a judge nor to a public defender. These acts were carried out by members of the National Civilian Police.
16. The authorities justify these arrests citing the existence of "external threats" to the de facto regime. To date, the arrests have not provided any evidence whatsoever that the more than 100 people affected were engaged in actions that could have compromised national security. To the contrary, many of the arrested are businesspeople, workers and migrant, some of them with solid family ties, deeply and legally rooted in Honduras.
17. Numerous local media outlets contribute to this xenophobic policy and practice by providing sensationalist coverage of the detention of Nicaraguans and asking the population to denounce the presence of foreign citizens engaged in suspicious activities.
18. The Mission has received multiple complaints related to the forced conscription of youths by the Army in rural zones, with the aim of integrating them into the reserves.
19. In terms of freedom of expression, we have confirmed grave restrictions on freedom of expression following the coup d’etat. In Tegucigalpa, Channel 36, Radio TV Maya and Radio Globo were militarized as part of the operation of silencing the media that took place along with the coup. Transmission of Channel 36 was temporarily suspended and we have received reports, which we have confirmed, of assaults on various media stations and death threats against journalists, as well as the blocking of transmission, phone tapping, and blocking internet access to media stations.
20. The Mission was informed of the machine gunning, after the coup, of the studio of Radio Juticalpa in Olancho, and of the death threats made against journalists like the director of the newspaper El Libertador, Mr. JHONNY JOSÉ LAGOS ENRIQUEZ, and LUIS GALDANES, host of the radio program "Tras la Verdad" ["Going After the Truth"]. Mr. Lagos is also being subjected to a judicial lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of Honduras Dr. Luis Rubi, based on article 349 of the Penal Code of Honduras which only applies to those employed as public servants, and Mr. Lagos Enríquez is not a public servant.
21. In the city of Progreso, on the other hand, the armed forces are occupying Radio PROGRESO and silencing their broadcasts, harassment of the Jesuit priest ISMAEL MORENO, temporarily detaining the journalist ROMELL ALEXANDER GÓMEZ MEJÍA, and in the case of the journalist ROMEL ROMERO, have made death threats via the cell phone of his wife, Mrs. MIRIAM ESPINAL. Likewise, the Reflection and Communication Team (Equipo de Reflexión y Comunicación - ERIC) , the collaborative arm of Radio Progreso, has been the target of threats and harassment on behalf of the armed forces that have permanently placed themselves outside their headquarters in the Casa San Ignacio, Canán Boulevard, in Progreso.
22. OSMAN DANILO COREA, journalist of Channel 26 TV Atlántica, in the Department (like a state) of Colón is experiencing a similar situation as the aforementioned cases. He told Mission International that the military has indicated to the communication department that they may not transmit alternate versions or information from those of the de facto president Micheletti. Mr. Corea explained that he received a call from the Captain Tercero, Chief of the Castilla Naval Base near Trujillo, prohibiting him from broadcasting information regarding the various marches of the "white shirts" (supporters of the de facto government), threatening him with decommission of the station if he refuses, adding "because we have ordered it, the armed forces have the power." Mission International also received a formal complaint of harassment and persecution suffered by the journalist of the television program "La Cumbre" [The Summit], Mr. JORGE ORLANDO ANDERSON of the town Bonito Oriental, on behalf of the soldiers of the previously referenced Castilla Naval Base.
23. The journalist NAHUM PALACIOS of Tocoa, related that he has been threatened by the same Captain Tercero of the Castilla Naval Base on 28 June 2009, who subsequently ordered the detention of 4 members of Aguan Television, Channel 5. Mr. Wilfredo Paz, journalist, President of the Teachers Union of Tocoa and Director of the news program at the Center for News of Colón, has received anonymous threats to burn down the station if he continues to broadcast, and the same Captain Tercero ordered the cable company to cut off transmission of Mr. Palacios’s program.
24. The Mission has also received concrete reports of the intervention of paramilitary groups composed of civilian allegedly linked to drug-trafficking cartels and to private security firms providing services to certain businesses. They wear camouflage uniforms and operate in conjunction with members of Battalion XV of the army Honduran Army in the Department of Colón.
25.The Mission has confirmed, as well, threats and coercion of workers in their places of work in response to their attendance of marches against the coup; They have also experiences coercive action to guarantee their obligatory attendance in marches called together by the de facto government and private businesses.

iii. Conclusions
The International Mission confirms the existence of grave and systematic violations of human rights in Honduras subsequent to the coup d’état. Some of these violations originate from the application of norms in open violation of the international agreements for the protection of human rights, the militarization of security functions and state institutions, abuses on the part of the State security forces, and lack of response from the guaranteed mechanisms of the State.
One of the fundamental conclusions of this visit consist of the determination that Decree 11-2009, the suspension of guarantees, establishes restrictions of a wide gamut of fundamental rights, including personal freedoms, mobility, among others, such that its application would substantively violate international obligations of the State as it is written.
The faults of Decree 11-2009 render illegitimate the methods adopted on the basis of the decree, for example, the detention centers for curfew, unlawful entry of homes by armed forces, and restrictions on freedoms of mobility on the highways.
The International Mission considers that one of their fundamental observations consists in the disestablishment of protection for the numerous persons affected by the grave violations perpetrated before the inadequate response of the institutions that are responsible for overseeing the guarantees of fundamental human rights of the Hondurans. This is evidenced by the obvious lack of resources of the Special Budget for Human Rights, as well as the ineffectiveness of the Supreme Court to decide the legality of the decree for the suspension of guarantees and other protections regarding the violations of fundamental rights occurring in relation to the coup, and the negligence of the National Commission for Human Rights.
Moreover, it is possible to maintain that certain institutions of the right have assumed an open role complicit with the de facto authorities, making the case for the omission of their constitutional and legal functions.
The coup has culminated in a highly precarious situation in the guardianship of the rights of various collectives that were considered vulnerable since before 28 June 2009, as has occurred with the LGTB community.
We have confirmed serious limitations on freedom of expression and intimidations intended to restrict the circulation of information criticizing the de facto regime. At this time, we consider a portion of the mass communication intermediaries of the country have had an attitude inconsistent with the plurality of ideas and democracy. On occasion, these intermediaries have echoed the openly repressive positions and incited violence against the supporters of the deposed government.
We wish to emphasize the outstanding role that various defenders of human rights have played and continued to play at this moment, who despite adversity, lack of resources, and the risk to their integrity and lives, have lifted their voices to renounce the abuses, protect victims, and defend the institution of democracy.
iv. Recommendations
To the International Community of Nation States
1- Take all action necessary to guarantee the pleasure and enjoyment of the human right of the Honduran population;
2- Maintain a firm position condemning the coup d’état, demanding the restitution of President Zelaya, and the reestablishment of constitutional order;
3- Maintain the suspension of diplomatic relations with the de facto regime, as well as any economic support or financing managed by the institutions of the State involved in the coup;
4- Refuse recognition of the results of elections called by the de facto government, as was also expressed by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, in addition to refusing recognition of any decision adopted by said government;
Concerning bilateral relations with Honduras
5- The ambassadors present in the country should continue and reinforce the appropriate methods to contribute to the protection of the defenders of human rights, civil society activists, among others, by means of visits to the offices of the people and organizations at risk
Constant invitations and exchanges with the same
Logistic support that is pertinent to their security
Implementation of an Alert and Emergency System immediately accessible to persons at risk
In conjunction with international NGOs, open additional support to Honduran civil society, to reinforce their capacity to protect and monitor human rights. In particular, it is important to increase the human and financial resources so that they can tend to the needs within the country
6- International cooperation should maintain suspension of budgetary and programmatic support to State Institutions that have been involved in the coup d’état; maintain humanitarian aid , cooperation con the municipalities and with the Honduran civil society organizations;
7- The Unites States should take action against those actors principally responsible for the coup, such as the suspension of visas and freezing overseas bank accounts.
Relations between the European Union and Honduras
8- With respect to the relationship between Honduras and the European Union, they should initiate the following actions:
The democratic clause as articulated in Article 1 of the Marco Accord of Cooperation between the European Union and Central America of 1993, that calls for the suspension of cooperation in the case of serious interruption of constitutional order
Abstention of diplomatic relations at the level of vice-ministers of the illegitimate government, as well as with all of the diplomatic representatives of Honduras in the European Union that support the de facto government
Suspension, most importantly of budgetary support, of all of the programs directed at support of the State institutions that have been involved in the coup d’état
Maintain the decision to suspend negotiations of the Association Accord between the European Union and Central America until constitutional order is restored in Honduras
Suspension of Honduras from the General System of Preference (SGP plus) of the European Union
To the International Organizations
9- The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights should continue to monitor the human rights situation in Honduras and submit recommendations to protect the population in Honduras, in this sense we urge the following actions:
Continue to execute cautionary measures to protect the persons in at-risk situations
Briefly visit the situation in the country and submit a report with the recommendations the ICHR finds advisable
10- The Security Council of the United Nations Organization (UN) should denounce the coup d’état in Honduras and should take measures that will contribute to the reestablishment of constitutional order
11- The UN should activate the appropriate mechanisms within their systems of protection of Human Rights to confront the Human Rights situation in Honduras, in particular the should consider the pertinence of:
Adopting a resolution at the level of the Human Rights Council
Establishment of permanent office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Honduras
Make visits to verify the especially compelling accounts concerning the freedom of expression, human rights defenders, and the independence of judges and lawyers
12- The International Criminal Court (ICC) should act preemptively. Accordingly, we solicit the General Prosecutor of the ICC to take immediate steps leading to a possible criminal investigation according to regulation of Article 7, Number g of the Rome Statute, which outlines the standards for the crime of political persecution.
In light of the gravity of the human rights situation, the national and international organizations involved in Mission International have decided to create a Human Rights Observatory in Honduras as a follow-up to this mission.
The members of the Observation Mission concerning the Human Rights situation in Honduras have been the following people:
Luis Guillermo Pérez (CIFCA)
Marcia Aguiluz (CEJIL)
Viviana Krsticevic (CEJIL)
Martin Wolpold-Bosien (FIAN International)
Jorge Rojas (CODHES)
Benjamín Cuellar (IDHUCA)
Miguel Jugo (National Coordinator of Human Rights Perú)
Javier Mujica (FIDH)
Efraín Olivera (PIDHDD, SERPAJ)
Enrique Santiago (IEPALA, The Federation of Association for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights Spain)
Ellen Verryt (World Solidarity)
Hans Peter Dejgaard (IBIS – Denmark)
Katrin Erlingsen (Presidential Assessor for the Commission for
Development and Economic Cooperation of the German Parliament)
Leo Gabriel (Institute of Cooperative and Intercultural Research - Austria)
Katia Nouten (CIFCA)
Dolores Jarquín (Alianza Social Continental)
Francois Houtart (Center for Tricontinental Studies)