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.