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...