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.

Nationally:

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...

http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/blog/colette-washington-cna-nnoc/2009/09/16/afl-cio-convention-endorses-single-payer

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…

http://ga1.org/campaign/singlepayer

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

http://sickforprofit.com/

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.

Locally:

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.


Internationally:

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…
http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/2009/08/take-action-to-restore-democracy-in.html

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…
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h1IbKRylTFYEQ0JzuYfCVJZuxuJgD9AKLCHO0

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