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: canada@un.int or prmny@international.gc.caTelephone: 212-848-1100 Fax: (1) 212-848-1195, -1192, -1128

United Stateshttp://www.archive.usun.state.gov/Issues/contactus.htmlTelephone212-415-4062Fax: 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) 370-1954netherlands@un.int

New ZealandTel: (212) 826 1960Fax: (212) 758 0827Email nzmissionny@earthlink.net

NorwayPhone: 212-421-0280 Fax: 212-688-0554E-mail: delun@mfa.no

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 james@afgj.org for more information.
Visit our website at: http://www.clrlabor.org/wordpress/

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 www.743teamsters.org

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: lavozchicago@yahoo.com 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: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=133416247794

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