Friday, December 24, 2010

The Last Night at Decima Musa...

I will try to post more comments after the Holidays, but here are some pics from Decima Musa's Gran Finale...

Last Night at Decima Musa

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Last Days of Decima Musa…



The only way to describe the feeling of receiving news of Decima Musa’s imminent demise was the proverbial punch in the gut. But I quickly relieved myself by convincing myself that the bearer of the bad news had to be mistaken. “Closing on the 15th, you mean just for the holidays” is what I keep telling myself and anyone who dared try to contradict my illusion. It wasn’t until I heard the words directly from Rosario’s mouth that I was forced to face the truth – Pilsen was losing another one of it cultural icons. I’ve told friends that my tearful conversations Rosario over this decision since have been filled with great memories but are harder to endure than most wakes I have attended. It truly feels like the final days of a dear friend.

Pilsen has been an immigrant, working class community since its earliest days in the mid-19th century. Because of these demographics it has also been a neighborhood of struggle. Few businesses or institutions in Pilsen during the last 30 years have embodied this spirit of struggle more than Decima Musa. The 10th muse has indeed inspired countless struggles for social, economic, and cultural justice in our beloved barrio. A list of regular attendees on Thursday nights would read like the who’s who of Pilsen activist of the last quarter century. It’s loss is a devastating (but lets hope not mortal) blow to what makes Pilsen the greatest neighborhood in the country.

I will try to post more reflections after the Gran Fiesta, the final Thursday night. Below are some pictures taken over the past week, a few taken with my low res cell phone camera. Hopefully I will have better pictures later this week from the last night. And to all you Pilsenites, I will see you Thursday…


Last Days of Decima Musa

Decima Musa’s Gran Finale
Thursday, December 16th
8:00 PM til ?
1901 S. Loomis

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tellez family fights eviction...


Alvaro and Silvia Tellez have been trying for months to negotiate with the bank that holds the mortgage on their home. They want to renegotiate the terms of their sub-prime mortgage and are willing to keep making regular payments that are within their budget. Over the past year, their monthly payments have jumped from $3,000 to $4,700. The family moved into the basement of their building in order to rent the two floors above in effort to continue making regular monthly mortgage payments. But the bank would rather add one more vacant property to a neighborhood already riddled with them rather than find a way to keep the Tellez family in their home.

Alvaro and Silvia followed the legal process and looked for relief from the courts, but were callously told by a judge, after a hearing that took minutes, that they most vacate their property by December 4th. But the Tellez family is taking a stand. With the support of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Committee, the Tellez family announced on Thursday, their intention to stay put regardless of the court's decision. They held a press conference Thursday with a couple dozen supporters who plan to help the family stay in their home, even if it requires physically blocking the eviction with their presence. The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign is calling for solidarity on Saturday, when the 30 day period has expired and the possibility of attempted eviction becomes eminent. Supporters are urged to show up at the families home at 10:30 AM.

For more info check the campaigns facebook page... http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=238610161031

Below are pictures from the meeting and press conference at the Tellez family residence at 2221 N. Latrobe Ave on Chicago's west side. The Tellez Family served soup and hot chocolate to the dozens who showed up to support the family, crowding the tiny basement apartment in which the family lives....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

PERRO’s 25th Ward Aldermanic Candidates Forum...


Join us for PERRO’s 25th Ward Aldermanic Candidates Forum. Find out were the candidates for Alderman of the 25th Ward stand on issues such as the environment, education, TIF funds, gentrification, and social and economic justice. Tuesday, Dec. 7th from 6 to 8 pm at Decima Musa - 1901 S. Loomis. All three candidates have been invited.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pics from PERRO's Day of the Dead procession...



PERRO's Day of the Dead Procession was a lot of fun, attracting roughly 100 hundred participants, many of the them students from UIC and Loyola University, as well as our partners from LVEJO, RAN, EcoJustice Collaborative, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and others. We received excellent media coverage on Univision on both the 5 pm and 10 pm news, despite the elections being the next day. 25th Ward Aldermanic candidates Temoc Morfin and Ambrosio Medrano Jr. spoke in favor of the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance. Alderman Solis was a no show.

Here are some pictures from the procession from friend of PERRO, Pam Richart...


and...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Midwest WobFest 2010 is coming...


Chicago IWW hosts MidWest WobFest 2010, November 12th-14th
The Chicago IWW is hosting the 2010 Midwest Wobfest at the UE hall on 37 S. Ashland Avenue. All IWWs and other workers are invited. Presentations require a $20 registration fee.

Friday night will be a music performance and party that is open to all (no registration required). The show is a $5 sliding scale cover, free with registration. On Saturday, will be the presentations and speakers followed by films and socializing. Sunday is a Labor History tour, including Haymarket Square and a tour of Forest Home, the final resting place of the Haymarket Martyrs.

This years presentations will include Occupations and Takeovers, Workers Self-Management, the UE Republic Windows strike & occupation, the Spanish Civil-War, Self-Management in Brazil, and more!
Meals will be provided (vegan.) Please let us know if you have any special needs, food allergies, gender preference, need housing or child care. Tabling space is still available!

You can register by mail, email, or at the door. See the attached documents for the schedule and registration information.

NO ONE TURNED AWAY FOR LACK OF FUNDS!
To RSVP or for more info...
wobfest2010@gmail.com or (312) 638-9155

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The occupation has ended but the struggle goes on…

The occupation of La Casita at Whittier was brought to a close tonight. The Whittier parents are declaring victory in the battle of La Casita as Ron Huberman’s office put in writing today the guarantee not to demolish the field house and to lease it to the parents group at $1 a year. However the war is far from over…

  1. The issue of the library is yet to be resolved. CPS still insists that they can find space inside the school building for the library. The parents insist there is no space in the school and that the library should be located in the field house.
  1. The parents insist that Huberman and Alderman Solis already agreed that TIF funds would be used to complete the repairs necessary at La Casita. Huberman’s letter today did not make this clear.
  1. A half block away from Whittier is the abandon police station on Damen which has sat vacant for several years. The parents say that Solis promised them that the building would be used for an expansion of Whittier. But the city now claims this can’t be done because of concerns over asbestos in the building. The parents argue that TIF funds should be used to remediate the building and fund the expansion.

The parents are still ask supporters to contact Ron Huberman and insist that the library be located either in La Casita our somewhere else outside the already overcrowded school. That TIF funds pay for repairs to La Casita. And that the expansion of Whittier into the police station proceed. You can contact Huberman’s office at… 773-553-1550

For more tune into next Monday’s episode of Labor Express Radio - 10 am Monday morning on WLUW 88.7 FM or live online at… www.wluw.org

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Join PERRO Nov. 1st - Day of the Dead Procession...


PERRO (The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization) invites all to join their November 1st Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) Procession through University Village and Pilsen...

4:30 PM - rally at UIC’s Quad 750 S. Halstead
5:30 PM - procession begins into the Pilsen neighborhood, past the Fisk Plant and to Alivio Medical Center.
6:30 PM - rally at Alivio Medical Center - 966 West 21st Street.
Will have music, food, art making and a lot of fun. Feel free to come in costume and bring your own sign expressing your concern about the pollution coming from the
Fisk coal fired power plant.

You can find out more at... pilsenperro.org

Here are some pictures from PERRO's Sept. 27th 24 hour vigil outside Alderman Danny Solis office...
And from the 10-10-10 rally at Alivio Medical Center...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Message from Claudio Gaete with the Whittier Parents...

Please, Call Ron Huberman at (773) 553-1550 and fax him at (773) 553-1502 to tell him to accept the parents' demands that were delivered to him on Thursday, October 14th. He has ignored us for too long. Let him know that the Whittier Parent Committee has support throughout the city! It is exactly a month now. Encourage others to do the same.

Another article on the Chilean miners worth taking a look at...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-k-black/capitalism-would-have-kil_b_764948.html

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lessons of the Chilean miners...


It was thrilling for me as I am sure it was for all of you to witness the successful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped deep underground for 69 days following a collapse at the San Jose copper and gold mine on August 5th. Much of the Spanish language press here in Chicago turned over their entire broadcast yesterday to coverage of the rescue. But amidst all the media attention on the “miracle” in Chile, what has not been given as extensive coverage was the host of issues that this near tragedy raises.

For one, there are the dangerous working conditions faced by miners world wide and by Latin American miners in particular. Chile is much safer than a place like China were hundreds of miners die ever year, or closer neighbors like Mexico or Colombia, were dozens have died in the last couple years. But the life of a Chilean miner still carries great risk. And by most reports the situation is getting worse. The San Jose mine, owned by Compañia Minera San Esteban Primera, has racked up some 42 safety violations in recent years and some 16 miners have been killed at the mine in the last decade. Miners union leaders have regularly complained about working conditions at the mine and charged mine owners with ignoring worker’s safety concerns. One of the safety violations behind the miners entrapment at San Jose was the lack of a escape tunnel as required by law. And while the world has focused on the fate of the 33 miners trapped under ground, some 300 other employees of the San Jose mine have been struggling without any paychecks after the was mine shut down. The miners have complained of company and government insensitive to there fate.

Chile’s mines are the cornerstone of the Chilean economy and provided 40% of the governments revenues. Miners have a long history of struggle in Chile and were the backbone of Allende’s Socialist government which was overthrown by a coup in 1973 ushering in a brutal military dictatorship under August Pinochet. Indeed many believe Allende’s decision to disarm the miners who had seized control of the country’s mines after his election, was one of the major factors that allowed the right wing to successfully carry out their military coup. Today Chile’s mining sector includes private mines like Compañia Minera San Esteban Primera, and the state owned mining company Codelco. Within days of the August 5th disaster, Compañia Minera San Esteban Primera was discussing bankruptcy and crying out to the government for aid claiming it could not afford to rescue the miners. In the end it was the expertise of Codelco the state owned mining company and funds provided by the Chilean government who spared no expense, that lead to the miners rescue. This should stand as a powerful lesson on the bankruptcy of the private sector in general. It is also interesting that Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, a billonaire media mogul right winger with family ties to the Pinochet regime, has nonetheless been steadfast in demanding that Compañia Minera San Esteban Primera reimburse the government for its expenses, bankruptcy or not, and has restructured the governments mine regulation ministry in the face of its failures to ensure mine safety. President Pinera is even supporting legislation that hikes taxes on foreign mining companies operating in the country. All of this has increased the president’s popularity, whether warranted or not. Indeed, despite President Pinera being a right winger, it appears President Obama, allegedly a progressive, could learn a thing or two from Pinera about standing up to corporate interests in favor of the public good. At the same time, it was distributing and perhaps revealing the other day when Pinera declared that now perhaps the world, when they think of Chile, won’t think of the coup or the dictatorship but will think of this rescue effort.

Much is being made of the showering of gifts on the miners from wealthy benefactors around the world, including free trips to Europe. Indeed, for the moment, they are deservedly instant celebrities. The 33 freed miners will each receive roughly $10,000 through a mix of donations from the government, the state mining company and private donations. For workers who earn roughly $1,600 a month, that amounts to a little more than 6 months pay. But than they will need to find other jobs in a country in which miner’s wages are considered high in compassion to most workers. But the miners are likely to suffer for years from the psychological if not physiological effects of their two months of confinement underground.

But in the end it is worker solidarity and resilience that is the most ennobling element of this story. In the words of blogger Lucian E. Marin of 21stcenturymanifesto.wordpress.com... “The way in which the 33 organized themselves underground, especially during the initial 17 days before they were found – a period they survived on only 48 hours of rations between them – was truly exemplary, reflecting humanity at its best.” Or in the words of Partha Banerjee of Countercurrents.org… “What courage, what resilience, what organization and optimism even against the most extreme adversities! Miracle? Sure, we all know that; we'd say the same thing if one of our family members had experienced the situation. But it's also much more than that. It's the fighting spirit of the working people. It's their solidarity.” And international miners solidarity has been evident throughout, from support in the rescue effort, to vacation time in Greece at the expense of a Greek mining company (an idea put forward by Greek miners), to invitations to visit England from Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, the son of a miner. Like in so many other recent tragedies around the world, it is workers solidarity that provides the bright light amidst the darkness.

Here are some links that can help shed light on the lessons of the Chilean miners...


http://www.countercurrents.org/banerjee141010.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/world/americas/15chile.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/10/mining-accidents-latin-america.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-heffernan/how-a-government-takeover_b_763017.html

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=362450&CategoryId=14094

http://21stcenturymanifesto.wordpress.com

http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10352

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/chile/8063050/Chile-mine-rescue-winners-and-losers.html

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/for-every-rescued-miner-hundreds-far-less-lucky/?src=twt&twt=nytimesgreen

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/days-of-hope-and-fear-chile-s-trapped-miners-face-up-to-ordeal-1.1051225

http://technorati.com/business/article/were-the-chilean-miners-to-be/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Article on Metropolis Lock-Out...




Here is a link to my article for Labor Notes on the lock-out in Metropolis Illinois...


Negotiations between the company and the union resumed Monday, but despite some positive signs Monday, negotiations broke down today. You can read the full report here...


Check back in a couple days for a longer version of my report on my visit to Metropolis on Labor Day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

PERRO 24 hr vigil a great success...

Last Monday PERRO (Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization), held a 24 hr vigil outside the office of Alderman Danny Solis of the 25th ward, to encourage him to become a co-sponsor of the Clean Power Ordinance. Dozens of people participated and the news coverage was extensive especially the Spanish language press. Univision covered the vigil on it 5 pm and 10 pm news broadcasts. Telemundo aired pieces on the vigil at 5 pm, 10 pm and on Tuesday mornings news cast. WBBM News radio 780 mentioned the vigil throughout the day Monday.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Labor Beat Fundraiser...


Come out next Friday. We need your support...

Labor Beat Fundraiser
Evanston Community Media Center
1285 Hartrey Ave. (off Dempster)
Evanston, IL

For more info go here...


Labor Beat Fundraiser
6:30 pm, FRIDAY, SEPT. 24
$20 Suggested Donation


Evanston Community Media Center
1285 Hartrey Ave.
Evanston, Illinois
free parking on site!


Join us in an evening of:
* Short video segments with comments by Labor Beat producers
* Refreshments will be served
* Discussions on labor and the media issues
* Hosted by Jerry Mead-Lucero of the Labor Express radio show


For more info on fundraiser: lduncan@igc.org * 312-226-3330

Links related to the 9-20-2010 episode of Labor Express Radio program...

Here are some links related to the 9-20-2010 episode of Labor Express…

GET ON THE BUS! Come to D.C. for the One Nation Working Together March on Washington. Find out more here…

http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/content/main

For more on the Siege of La Casita, you can check out my blog…

http://www.pilsenprole.blogspot.com/

For more on the Chicago Teachers Union’s planned rally tomorrow, check out the CTU’s website…

http://www.ctunet.com/

For more on charter school teacher organizing in Chicago, go here…

http://www.chicagoacts.org/

More pics from Whittier...

Photographer Sarah Jane Rhee was kind enough to send me these pics from the occupation of the Whitter field house which she took last night...


The police apparently came by and harassed some of the sit-in participants last night, but they have not attempted to arrest anybody so far.


Friday, September 17, 2010

The Siege of La Casita...



The Siege of La Casita:

The war at Whittier Elementary School is far from over, but at least the most recent battle has been won. The siege of la casita, the field house which sits in Whittier’s playground, has been lifted. Since Wednesday parents and community activists have occupied the facility to prevent its demolition by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). They want the field house protected and used, at least temporarily, as a library, a resource the school has been left without for years. They currently use the field house as a community center and a place for various activities for the children. They question CPS’s desire to spend over $300,000 on demolishing the structure rather than spend that money ensuring that the school has the resources its needs.

The struggle at Whittier is nothing new. For much of the past decade, parents and community allies have had to fight to keep the school open and than fight yet again to make the smallest of improvements in what is an overcrowded and physically deteriorated facility. Rumors have been a foot for sometime that the decision to demolish the field house is a land grab. Nearby Cristo Rey, a Jesuit High School, has expressed in the past its interest in acquiring more land in the area for soccer fields and other purposes.

CPS contends that the field house is structurally unsound. But it is a case of the dueling building engineers. The firm hired by CPS has declared the building dangerous and recommended that it be placed off limits for any activity. The company hired by the parents and community groups found instead that the roof needed replacement but that otherwise the building was sound. Those currently occupying the building are aware that the outside of the building has seen better days, but given the overcrowded conditions at Whittier and the lack of investment in the school by CPS, they are not interested in conceding any space for demolition.

After 2 days of occupation it looked as if today the police were going to make their move. They surrounded the field house restricting any movement in or out. By mid day the perimeter of the siege had extended for a block around the school. Streets were cut off and even local residents found it nearly impossible to enter their neighborhood. Only a handful of press who we already inside when the police arrived were allowed near the field house. And most importantly, community members arriving with food for those inside were prevented from getting that food to those inside. Police commanders on the scene threatened arrest for anyone attempting to bring food to those occupying the field house. Even James Finnerty, the lawyer for those inside the field house, was prevented from entering the school grounds.

Calls to Alderman Danny Solis for his aid in lifting the siege fell on deaf years. Once again, the community was told Danny was out of town (man that guy takes a lot of vacations). This time it was to D.C. at least and not to China. But other politicians proved more helpful. In particular, State Rep. Cynthia Soto tried her best to get through to Ron Huberman , the CEO of CPS (what a title, he was apparently also out of town - I wonder if he was with Danny), and pressure him to call of the cops.

The parents and community members inside told the growing crowd of supporters outside that they had been told that at 2:45 pm, just as the school day was ending and children would be exiting the school building, the police would arrest anyone who persisted in refusing to leave. But the end of the school day just brought a fresh wave of solidarity. A large group of parents, school children and community supporters pushed past police lines with food for those inside. Some started to jump the low fence that had served as the perimeter closest to the field house all day. Frustrated police at first seemed to try to prevent this but were quickly overwhelmed and gave up the attempt to stem the tide. Shortly after that, for reasons that are not fully clear, the police left the area and removed the cordon they had created around the school. CPS security than opened the gate to the playground and all the supporters, many of whom had observed from the fence line all day, swarmed in for an informal pizza party.

It is not clear what CPS next move will be. Negotiations between CPS and those in the field house were inconclusive. CPS indicated perhaps some willingness to dialogue with the concerned parents and area residents, but only if those inside vacated the building and lock smith changed the locks. CPS also put up signs on the outside of the building declaring it condemned and off limits to the public. At least for now the police have been called off, and the Whittier warriors are staying put. But the police could return at anytime so the Whittier warriors could use your solidarity.

Bring food, bring drink, but most of all bring your solidarity...

Whittier Elementary School - 1900 W 23rd St

Audio interviews from those occupying La Casita and supporters outside will air on this Monday’s Labor Express Radio program, 88.7 FM at 10:00 AM. Or live online at… www.wluw.org

You can find pics of the events described here…

http://picasaweb.google.com/jerrymeadlucero/TheSiegeOfLaCasita#

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pics from El Grito protest…


Yesterday’s celebration of Mexico’s bicentennial of its struggle for independence at Millennium Park was great fun. Not only because the music was great (man that kids choir from Michoacán was really something). Not only because the crowd was so festive. Not only because it was terrific to see so many friends and family I haven’t seen in awhile. But because of the surprise protest targeting the Consul General which took place during the El Grito. It was a huge embarrassment for the Consul who was at the center of yesterday’s festivities.

Members of Chicago’s local Mexican community have long felt that the Consul has been disrespectful towards them, placing greater emphasize on creating a cozy relationship with the powers that be than serving the community’s needs.

The protest involved the unfurling of 4 banners at strategic locations letting the Consul know he is no longer welcome in Chicago.

Now that’s the way to celebrate a revolution.

You can find links to my pictures of the protest here…

http://picasaweb.google.com/jerrymeadlucero/PicsFromElGrito#

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Men of Steel Locked-Out in the Home of the Man of Steel...


This Monday’s episode of Labor Express Radio is a “don’t miss” episode. The entire program will be devoted to my Labor Day weekend visit with the locked out Steelworkers in Metropolis, Illinois, a small blue collar town in the Southernmost corner of the state. Metropolis maybe know as the home of Superman, but the danger to the residents of Metropolis isn’t kryptonite, it is the toxic substances handled at the Honeywell International Inc. plant located on the outskirts of town.


The only uranium conversion plant in the United States, members of Steelworkers Local 7-669 are uniquely skilled and trained to handle radioactive material and highly corrosive acids. But now, locked-out of the plant, the facility is being staffed by poorly trained scabs. There has already been one explosion at the plant on the Sunday

before Labor Day.


Hear more about how proposed cuts to health care and pension benefits lead to a contract impasse and the eventual lock-out. Hear how the town of 6,000 has rallied around the locked-out workers. And hear how a town lives in existential fear. On this Monday’s Labor Express Radio program – The Men of Steel Locked-Out in the Home of the Man of Steel.


You can download today's program by going here...


You can see pics from my Labor Day weekend trip to Metropolis here...

http://picasaweb.google.com/jerrymeadlucero/SteelworkersLockedOutInMetropolisIL#

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's your take on the possible Chicago mayoral candidates?...

Hi All,

Here is a chance for you to have your say on pilsenprole.blogspot.com I am curious to hear peoples thoughts on the announcement of Daley's retirement and the possible candidates for his replacement. Part of this is motivated by my embarrassment that I was unaware that Rahm Emanuel was one of those thinking about running. Somehow I seem to have missed that statement he apparently made to that effect earlier this year. But according to WBEZ this week, you would think he had already won the election. He is almost the only candidate their talking about. They did mention Miguel De Valle and Tom Dart today as well, but they seem ready to declare Rahm the winner before the race has even started. I knew about De Valle before even WBEZ announcement because there is a meeting of Latino activist planned for Saturday and I know they're are discussing promoting De Valle, or perhaps Jesus Garcia, who is already running for county commissioner.

What I am surprised by is that none of the likely candidates discussed as interested in the position in previous years has been mentioned. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Luis Gutierrez have been talked about for years as possible mayoral candidates. Why aren't they being mentioned now? Has Jackson's reputation been so damaged by recent political scandals that it is now considered un-feasible? Seems to me he is still pretty popular among most Chicagoans, particular on the South Side. And is Gutierrez just not interested anymore? He would seem an obvious front runner. I know he will be one of the possible Latino candidates discussed this weekend. And why is Bob Fioretti not being mentioned. He was the only one who seemed ready to run, even before Daley announced his retirement plans. But I haven't heard his name mentioned in any of the press coverage.

I guess my other interest in starting this discussion is my fear that Rahm will be our next Mayor. My jubilation at hearing Daley's announcement quickly turned to horror when I heard Rahm was a likely successor. All the above mentioned possibilities would be an improvement on Daley EXCEPT RAHM! The only thing worse than Rahm would be Danny Solis, who it seemed for years was working on becoming Daley's successor, but he is not being mentioned now as a likely candidate.

So what do you think? Who will run? Who is the best of the candidates that have been mentioned so far? Lets hear your comments.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Great article from Michael Moore in honor of Labor Day...


If you haven't already read this, you really must. It is absolutely hilarious as well as poignant, in true Michael Moore fashion. It is really disturbing to think that Rahm Emmanuel could very well be our next Mayor...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Links for the Aug. 23rd episode of Labor Express Radio...

On the August 23rd episode of Labor Express Radio we discuss the lock-out of Steelworkers at the Honeywell uranium conversion plant in Metropolis Illinois. For more on developments in the lock-out you can check Local 7-669's website...


We also aired a conversation with Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative about the history and future of the struggle for living wages in Chicago. For more info on the Collaborative and their upcoming 10th Anniversary fundraiser, checkout their website...

Chicago environmental and community health activists encourage EPA to approve new Transport Rule...

You can hear the story from FSRN here...

Hilton hotel workers vote to strike...


Hilton Hotels workers in Chicago voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike at 4 area properties - the Chicago Hilton, Hilton O'Hare, the Palmer House Hilton, and the Drake, according to UNITE HERE Local 1 and Local 450. With 96% of union members voting in favor of a strike, the vote authorizes the rank-and-file bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary.

You can read more here...

http://www.unitehere.org/presscenter/release.php?ID=4110

UPDATE: UIC Strike called off, negotiations move forward...


The plans for a strike by clerical workers at UIC has been called off, at least for the time being. It looks as if a negotiations on a new contract are moving forward. Here is a statement issued by Joe Iosbaker, Chief Steward at UIC for SEIU Local 73...

As a result of last minute overtures by the University of Illinois president, the officers and elected bargaining committees of SEIU Local 73 at UIC have agreed we will not strike on Monday, August 23rd...

We appreciate all the solidarity we have received from students; from our co-workers, especially the Graduate Employees, Nurses, Teamsters, Faculty, and Doctors; and of course, the labor movement and broader community. We will resume Federal Mediation and hope to gain contracts soon, as our members have been without raises and have suffered job losses over the past year without a contract.

Of course, should negotiations fail to bring us a fair contract with job security and decent pay, we haven’t given up our right to strike.

In solidarity and struggle –

Joe Iosbaker
Chief Steward, Clerical/Administrative Unit, SEIU Local 73,
UIC

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clerical workers at UIC prepare to strike - NEED YOUR SUPPORT...


Next Monday, August 23rd, is the first day of classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). It will also likely be the first day of a strike by clerical workers at the university, members of SEIU Local 73.

You can listen to an mp3 of last Monday's Labor Express Radio program to hear more about some of the issues prompting the workers to strike...


The following is a message from Local 73 member Joe Isobaker...

Workers Prepare Strike at UIC--Need Your Support! 2700 union workers, members of SEIU Local 73 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are preparing to strike on Monday, August 23rd. They are demanding job security and a fair contract. They need your support. The Network to Fight for Economic Justice (NFEJ) is calling on its affiliates and supporters to show your solidarity. The strike is provoked by UIC’s attempts to undermine the union and by an administration trying to balance the budget on the backs of workers. The UIC big wigs eliminated hundreds of civil service jobs by “reclassifying”, declaring the positions non-union. Not surprisingly most of those “reclassified” jobs are going to whites, while Blacks and Latinos account for 95% of the union workers. SEIU Local 73 is not going to allow this outrage! An equally big issue is pay raises for union members. UIC pleads poverty because of the State budget crisis, but has actually increased their budget through contributions from rich people. Fact is the bosses at UIC are busy lining their pockets at the expense of workers, taxpayers, and students. Apparently there is no economic crisis if you are a big boss at a state university. President Hogan makes $620,000 per year with a $245,000 bonus over five years. Hogan’s assistant took an 85% pay increase to make $195,000 per year!
What is going on there? The average worker, according to management’s own estimate, makes $35,000 a year after many years on the job. While many workers are losing homes, the UIC bosses wasted $500,000 of taxpayer money to refurbish a mansion in the midst of this economic crisis. Are they crazy! The brave union members of Local 73 SEIU need to be supported and praised for taking a stand and setting an example for other workers. The leaders of SEIU Local 73 are united and strong behind one of the biggest strikes in the country this year. The International union needs to understand the importance of this strike and send in reinforcements too. Meanwhile, it is the union members with the support of students, faculty, and solidarity from other workers who will determine the outcome of this big battle in the heartland. Please do your part to help win the SEIU strike at UIC: 1. Sign the petition to demand a fair contract for SEIU workers. This sends a message to UIC Chancellor Allen-Meares, UIC President Hogan, and members of the administration's bargaining team that we want a fair contract. The online petition can be found here: www.ipetitions.com/petition/uicfaircontractsnow 2. Strike solidarity—on Monday come walk the SEIU picket lines at UIC Student Center East at 750 S. Halsted, starts at 6:00 a.m. 3. Spread the word--circulate the electronic petition to unions, community and student groups. They Say Cut Back! We Say Fight Back! Reach the Network to Fight for Economic Justice at www.nfej.org

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

UPDATE: Ex-Cell Workers on Strike...


This week, 22 workers at the Ex-Cell metal products plant in Franklin Park went out on Strike. Despite major contract concessions by the workers in recent years, the company is now demanding that the workers cover 20% of their health care coverage costs. This amounts to over $300 a month from most workers, and the average wage at the plant is $9 an hour. Most workers at the plant have worked there for many years, some more than 20 years. It is a familiar story. A light manufacturing facility employing low wage Latino workers and forcing them to accept poverty wages by threats of plant closings. Hats off to these workers for taking a stand and saying no to further concessions.

Tune in to next Monday's episode of Labor Express Radio for more...

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For more pics, go to the following link...

You can listen to an interview with striker Anna Maria Rico here...

There will be much more coverage on next Monday's Labor Express Radio program.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Link to article on CFL Wal-Mart "Agreement"...

Hi All,

On today's Labor Express Radio program I reference an article by Mischa Gaus of Labor Notes on the agreement between the Chicago Federation of Labor and Wal-Mart announced in June. You can find the article here...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Links to the Pension Rights Center...


On today's episode of Labor Express Radio, we talked about the Pension Rights Center's Retirement USA Speakout and "Wake Up, Washington!" campaign. Here are links for more information about how you can become involved...



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PERRO holds "People's Dinner" outside Ald. Solis fundraiser...


About 20 or so people this evening attended a "People's Dinner" outside a fundraiser for Alderman Daniel Solis of the 25th Ward. While campaign contributors inside the event paid a minimum of $150 a plate to influence the Alderman, attendees of the free People's Dinner called on the alderman to place the health of residents of the 25th Ward above the influence of corporate donors, including Midwest Generation, which owns and operates the Fisk coal-fired power plant on Cermak. Stay tuned for more news coming very soon that illustrates the depth of the relationship between Solis and Midwest Generation.

You can find pictures of the event here...


Here is the press release issued earlier today for the People's Dinner...

Pilsen Residents Push Alderman Solis to Stop Coal Soot

“People’s Dinner” Held Outside Alderman Solis Fundraiser calling for Ordinance Support

CHICAGO, August 2 – Pilsen residents are gathering outside Alderman Danny Solis’ (25th Ward) exclusive fundraiser to demand that he co-sponsor the Clean Power Ordinance. The measure would clean up harmful coal soot emissions from the local Fisk coal-fired power plant, the second largest single source of pollution in Chicago. On Wednesday, August 4, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) and residents will hold a free “People’s Dinner” where their demands will be made.

Alderman Solis has stated he opposes the ordinance, joining the plant’s owner, Midwest Generation (a major campaign contributor), in opposing provisions of the bill that would clean up coal soot (called Particulate Matter- PM) from falling near local residents despite the evidence of the harm that PM is known to cause.

The “People’s Dinner” will be free to the public and will include a people’s agenda for discussion of policies in the best interest of the residents of the 25th Ward, such as passage of the Clean Power Ordinance and demanding that Alderman Solis co-sponsor the bill. This is in stark contrast to the expected discussion inside Alderman Solis’ fundraiser related to the interests of Solis’ campaign contributors.

"Chicago is supposedly one of the 'green-ist cities,' however, not one, but two coal-fired power plants operate within the city limits,” says Sarah Finkle, a local resident and member of PERRO. “We want a response from Alderman Solis as to why he has not co-sponsored this ordinance. It is his responsibility to maintain the welfare of this ward."

The Clean Power Ordinance would regulate PM and carbon dioxide emissions from all coal-fired power plants operating in Chicago. Studies have shown that the pollution from Chicago’s plants cause over 40 premature deaths per year and 550 emergency room visits. Furthermore, population densities surrounding the Fisk and Crawford power plants are higher than for any other power plants in the U.S. and Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants are the largest single sources of CO2.