Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ethics and Morality

This statement was distributed to a group of people who came together to discuss ethics and morality at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Friday, March 23, 2007 in the Hekman Library.

A Question of Ethics and Morality

By: Alan L. Maki, Director of Organizing; Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Contact E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Ethics and morality of income distribution in the casino industry.

The Associated Press circulated a story that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press on Monday, March 19, 2007 [Page B6] which was rewritten from a story in the Kalamazoo Gazette written by Michelle Miron. Chris Knape covers this topic for the Grand Rapids Press. Not once has a union organizer been quoted in the “news” stories.

As everyone is fully aware, many newspaper articles have appeared concerning this Allegan County casino that is in the works which has been shamefully approved by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm who intentionally refused to address the issue of the rights of casino workers; this “agreement” is now awaiting legislative approval.

To date not one single newspaper article has mentioned the working conditions under which some 1,800 workers will be employed in this casino operation. Everyone is too busy focusing on money and profits.

In fact, these 1,800 casino workers will be employed at poverty wages, without real benefits, without a voice in the workplace, in a smoke-filled casino without any rights under Michigan labor laws, federal labor laws, or the National Labor Relations Act; just like the more than 250,000 casino workers presently employed in the “Native American owned and operated” casinos across the Midwest.

The average casino worker in the Midwest presently makes less than $8,000.00 per year; far from the $40,000.00 figure the news media touts.

The majority of casino workers are women of child-bearing age whose health is most affected by second-hand smoke and for whom this government imposed poverty is a severe hardship while impoverished seniors are also employed. In addition, women casino workers routinely subjected to sexual abuse on the job by casino management personnel have no rights of redress under any laws--- state, federal, or tribal.

These casino operations make money hand over fist twenty four hours a day, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Casino workers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa are being fired left and right as they try to organize into a union to protect their rights.

Workers’ rights are human rights.

That Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the media, church leaders, casino patrons, and the general public would continue to ignore the plight and rights of casino workers requires an in-depth discussion on ethics and morality of not only income distribution, but, workers’ rights in the casino industry--- including the media and public officials. Obviously, if the general public is not made aware of the truthful facts that these casino workers will have no rights and the overall Draconian conditions of their employment, the general public has no chance to try to influence the Governor and State Legislators; this is a question of ethics & morality; it is also a question of democracy.

Many casino workers have been forced to join the National Guard in order to supplement their incomes and are presently deployed in these immoral, illegal, unjust imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Casino workers are victims of health insurance scams and schemes like AFLACK promoted by casino managements who profit from each individual policy sold to casino workers… AFLACK is hawked by Wayne Newton, along with his quacking white duck on behalf of shysters and racketeers.

Casino workers are dragged into everything from loan sharking and drug dealing to prostitution and illegal gambling operations by casino management personnel who engage in these ventures as a “sideline.”

You have the opportunity to bring this issue involving the rights of casino workers before Michigan Legislators… I urge you to contact your state legislators without delay.

You have the opportunity to open up a direct dialogue on these issues of ethics and morality of income distribution which includes casino workers’ wages/benefits in the casino industry with reporters covering this casino story… Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Michelle Miron can be contacted at: 269-388-2733; Grand Rapids Press reporter Chris Knape can be contacted at: 616-458-8853. For too long the media has not been held accountable by the people… these issues involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan together with the rights of working people are but the very tip of the unethical and immoral conduct of the media and “public” officials… we need only look at the way the media and public officials have approached the entire health care mess as they evade any discussion of single-payer, universal health care and socialized health care in our country; not to mention the lies-- unchallenged by the media-- used by Bush to drag our country into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Democrats have acquiesced.

Something to keep in mind: A good union contract is better than any government anti-poverty program and a whole lot cheaper for tax-payers, too; however, it is just about impossible for casino workers to organize unless casino workers are protected by the same state and federal labor laws and legislation protecting all other workers; the organization of industrial unions in our country bears this out.

The Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council has placed before casino managements and operators a very basic contract proposal that would only cost the industry four rolls of quarters, per hour, per employee… Anyone who has ever set foot in any casino understands that this is a very modest and legitimate proposal. Any school child understands poverty cannot be eliminated while workers are paid poverty wages. “The market” will not resolve this problem.

I would ask you to keep these issues in mind as you discuss ethics and the morality of income distribution. Please don’t allow another casino to go into operation until the workers who will be employed in this casino are assured that they will be protected by the same rights all other workers are protected under. If Governor Granholm can negotiate a monetary “take” for the state, the Governor and Michigan State Legislators can negotiate these rights for workers into the agreement, also.

The 1,800 workers who will be employed in the Gun Lake tribe casino operation in Allegan County are your fellow human beings who are entitled to the same rights all other workers have; they may be your relatives, friends, neighbors, or displaced auto workers. Don’t let anyone from the media, or any politician or supporter of this casino operation tell you that this issue involving the rights of working people who will be employed in this casino will be “taken care of later.” In fact, more than 250,000 casino workers and those employed in related hospitality industries have not been taken care of “later.” This ethical and moral question requires resolution before this casino deal is approved by the Michigan legislature.

* A bogus issue that frequently surfaces: “sovereignty” of Indian Nations. “Sovereignty” is not a license to deny working people their basic human rights. No nation on earth is entitled to deny working people their rights. The Governor, State Legislators, Tribal governments, and industry must be held accountable when it comes to the rights of casino workers. Anything that obscures the issue of the rights of casino workers is a diversion from ethical and moral standards involving media, public officials, and casino investors, owners & operators as well as being a diversion from the moral question of income distribution. The fact that Governor Granholm negotiated with, and Michigan legislators must approve this casino deal, is proof that “sovereignty” does not exclude the issue of protection of casino workers’ rights--- workers, who, like all other workers, produce the wealth of their industry. Labor produces all wealth; yet, labor receives only a pittance of the wealth it creates.