Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

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...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


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...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Michigan House Democratic Legislators are set to follow Governor Granholm's lead and vote to approve the Gun Lake Casino "Compact" next Wednesday...

… Even though they have not demonstrated one iota of concern for the health and well-being of the 1,800 workers who will be employed at poverty wages in this smoke-filled casino without any rights under Michigan, Federal, or Tribal labor laws.

So much for all the talk about human rights and workers’ rights.

Most Michigan Legislators have told me they do not have to talk to me because I am not their constituent.

However, the Fertitta Family’s “Station Casinos” the Gun Lake Band is fronting for is not a constituent of any Michigan legislator, either.

Michigan Legislators just continue on completely oblivious to the truth:

• There will be no $40,000.00 a year jobs for casino workers;

• Casino workers will work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights;

• Casino workers will have no voice at work;

• Without rights in the workplace, casino workers have no rights in the communities where they live;

• Young women casino workers of child-bearing age will suffer the worst health related problems of second-hand smoke;

• Heart, lung, and cancer related health problems associated with second-hand smoke afflict casino workers more than workers in any other industry by a ratio of more than eight to one;

• Workers will be fired for attempting to organize a union--- this is the Fertitta Family track record;

• The Fertitta Family operates a string of non-union casinos and has used the most violent and dirty union busting methods to keep their casinos union free.

So far, not one single Michigan Legislator has challenged the proponents of this Gun Lake Casino “Compact” to come forward with documentation supporting the outlandish claim that these jobs will be paying $40,000.00 a year. The only thing they would have to request is a listing of each job and what the job will pay on an hourly basis and what that job will pay for the year.

Michigan Legislators have allowed the claim of “forty organizations and unions” supporting this Gun Lake Casino to stand without even asking for a list of those endorsements from those making this claim.

Forty seems to be the number the proponents like to claim… $40,000.00 a year jobs; 40 organizations backing this “Compact” which will continue to deprive casino workers of their human rights… claims without any substance to back them up; and, not one single Michigan Legislator asks for proof of any kind.

Working through the big-business controlled media like the Grand Rapids Press which stands to make millions of dollars in advertising revenues, the Southwest Building and Construction Trades Council headed up by Hugh Coward has shamefully worked hand-in-hand with the Fertitta Family, the Gun Lake Band Council, and the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce under the cover of darkness in creating, fabricating, and manufacturing a very distorted and dishonest scenario for the public to consume.

Tax-payers will ultimately be stuck with horrendous health care costs for treating health problems of casino workers relating to second-hand smoke because workers developing these job related health problems are fired by these casino managements.

The racism inherent in this “Compact” is overwhelming as Native American working people who have been the victims of racist hiring practices in other industries for many years are now used as the primary source of cheap labor, and forced to work under the most Draconian conditions of "at will hiring, at will firing."


The labor-backed Democratic majority of Michigan Legislators pushing for approval of this compact have not demonstrated any understanding, compassion, or empathy towards the plight of casino workers.

The dirty and under-handed manner in which this “Compact” has been brought forward calls into question the very basic premise and underpinnings of our democracy as questions are prevented from being asked; discussion is stifled and limited at both the grassroots level and the Legislative level to only those who support this “Compact;” all adding up to making a complete mockery of our democracy.

Please read the following blogs and distribute them widely:


http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/governor-granholm-and-michigan.html

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

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/


*********************


Communication with another Legislative Assistant of a Democratic Legislator in the Michigan House---

----- Original Message -----

From: Alan Maki

To: jshaski@house.mi.gov ; lwise@house.mi.gov ; gdubovich@usw.org ; nnosal@uaw.net ; lgerard@usw.org ; 'Gary Garbarino'

Cc: barbarafarrah@house.mi.gov ; cknape@grpress.com ; 'Michael Johnston'

Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 11:18 AM

Subject: Re: Gun Lake Casino resolutions

Mr. Shaski and Ms. Wise;

The Chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee refuses to provide me with information on the two resolutions to be voted on next Wednesday (August 8, 2007).

Hopefully, you will read my blogs on this issue very carefully:

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/governor-granholm-and-michigan.html

Mr. Shaski tells me the United Steelworkers are in support of these two resolutions… I would like proof of that.

I would like the complete list of all organizations and unions supporting HCR 39 and HR 158.

The minutes of the Regulatory Reform Committee are wholly inadequate and are a disgrace to the democratic process.

Not one question regarding wages and working conditions was asked by any member of the Committee.

Mr. Shaski, Representative Cook’s Legislative Assistant, tells me he previously was employed at the casino in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and was happy with his employment even though he knew he would be fired from his job should he try to organize a union, and he sees nothing wrong with an employer having the right to fire an employee for trying to organize. I would suggest Mr. Shaski continue working in smoke-filled casinos rather than his present smoke-free environment where he has rights.

Perhaps Mr. Shaski should have testified at the hearing and provided the Regulatory Reform Committee with his first hand experiences working as a “lead bartender” in the casino industry. Mr. Shaski refused to tell me what his income was working at the casino. Mr. Shaski is the Legislative Assistant to a member of the Committee.

I find it very interesting that neither Representative Farrah, nor any other member of the House Regulatory Reform Committee, made an attempt to solicit testimony from those presently employed in the casino industry regulated by these “Compacts” in order to find out what is wrong with these “Compacts” as far as the rights of working people are concerned.

It is shameful and disgusting that everything possible, including denying information, is being done by Michigan Legislators and their Legislative Assistants to deny casino workers the right to actively participate in the political process on this issue.

Again, for the record, I insist on answers to the questions I have raised which continue to, by intent, go unanswered. It is shameful that the Fertitta Family has more say in the Legislative process in Michigan than casino workers.

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

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/



-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki [mailto:amaki000@centurytel.net]

Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 1:27 PM

To: 'jshaski@house.mi.gov'; 'lwise@house.mi.gov'; 'gdubovich@usw.org'; 'nnosal@uaw.net'; 'lgerard@usw.org'; 'Gary Garbarino'

Cc: 'publicrelations@kewadin.com'; 'barbarafarrah@house.mi.gov'; 'cknape@grpress.com'; 'Michael Johnston'; 'GVLNpaper@aol.com'

Subject: Re: a correction.... FW: Re: Gun Lake Casino resolutions

To all concerned;

Mr. Shaski just called me. He was very irate that I spelled the name of the city Sault St. Marie wrong… I apologize for this misspelling.

I find it unfortunate that Mr. Shaski does not have the same concern for casino workers and their lack of rights while employed in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages that he demonstrates for proper grammar and spelling. I think this “concern” on the part of Mr. Shaski for a spelling error, and no concern regarding the rights of casino workers, says a great deal about the legislative process now underway surrounding HCR 39 and HR 158--- the resolution on the Gun Lake Casino “Compact.”

Mr. Shaski has refused to provide me with the information I requested.

The arrogance of Mr. Shaski in supporting these casino managements as he gave up his job in the smoke-filled casino at Sault St. Marie (hope I got the spelling correct this time) in order to work as a political hack for an uncaring and insensitive legislator on this issue and has refused to ask even the most fundamental, basic, and elemental questions is simply par for the course.

Again, I am requesting of Mr. Shaski to provide the information I requested concerning the proposed Gun Lake Casino; including:

1.] The list of all jobs and their pay schedules with projected yearly incomes for hourly employees;

2.] The complete list of all known organizations and unions supporting HCR 39 and HR 158;

3.] Proof that the United Steel Workers union has endorsed HCR 39 and HR 158.

As helpful as Mr. Shaski’s spelling lesson has been… HCR 39 and HR 158 are still shrouded in darkness and secrecy.

When I was a kid I used to go out and pick night crawlers on a warm damp evening before going off to fish… dealing with Mr. Shaski and Michigan’s Democratic Legislators on this issue has been reminiscent of hunting night crawlers in that every time a little light is shined on these Legislators and their political hacks they slither back into the darkness of their holes.

I call upon Mr. Shaski to detail, for Michigan Legislators and their Legislative Assistants, the conditions under which he, and his co-workers, worked at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Again, my apologies to the people of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for spelling the name of their city incorrectly.

It has been amazing how Michigan Legislators and their Legislative Assistants have concocted every excuse imaginable in order to evade providing answers to the three questions I have asked. Perhaps if the proponents of the Gun Lake Casino are not going to provide specific employee pay information, the management of Mr. Shaski’s former employer, Kewadin Casino and Resort, will provide their complete employee payroll information. As you can see, I have sent this e-mail to Kewadin management.

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

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/



-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki [mailto:amaki000@centurytel.net]

Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 7:02 PM

To: 'Eric Esch'; 'gdubovich@usw.org'; 'nnosal@uaw.net'; 'lgerard@usw.org'; 'Gary Garbarino'; 'rmcclary@house.mi.gov'; 'lwise@house.mi.gov'

Cc: 'jshaski@house.mi.gov'; 'miaflcio@voyager.net'; 'Michael Johnston'; 'cknape@grpress.com'; 'local340ironworker@sbcglobal.net'; 'Mike Jaros'; 'rep.bill.hilty@house.mn'; 'representativesak@house.mi.gov'; 'rep.neva.walker@house.mn'

Subject: Re: Minutes of the July 24, 2007 Regulatory Reform Committee Meeting

Mr. Esch,

I spoke today with John Shasti, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Scott; and he tells me he was present at this Committee meeting where there was a hearing and vote on the Gun Lake Casino “Compact.”

Mr. Shasti tells me many more people testified then what the minutes you have provided “on line” indicate and what you led me to believe in our telephone conversation. The secretaries of high school student governments take better minutes of meeting than you do.

I would like the names and contact information as well as how they testified, pro or con, of each person testifying.

A person should not have to be present at a Committee Meeting/Hearing in order to glean the facts and the truth of what took place… the minutes should convey an honest record; and, as you have published the minutes “on line” they do not.

For you to not include this information in the minutes is highly unethical, and quite possibly illegal, if you have falsified these minutes with the intended purpose in order to mislead the public, and those wishing to take part in the decision making process.

I insist on receiving this information immediately in order to be able to take part in the decision making process on behalf of casino workers.

Specifically, I would like to know how the representative(s) of the United Steel Workers union testified--- pro or con; as well as any other representatives of labor unions present.

We are not now speaking of some of the Fertitta’s thugs having a license to beat each other up in “Martial Arts Events” as people pay to watch these human “dog fights” which the Committee and House have now approved… we are speaking of the rights of working people to be employed in healthy and safe working environments while receiving real living wages.

Since the Chair of the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee, Representative Barbara Farrah, does not want to respond to me on this matter and has refused to keep me informed as promised… I suggest that you give her a message from me to relay to the Fertitta Family: The Gun Lake Casino will not open until a contract is signed providing every single employee a pay check the equivalent of $40,000.00 a year while working in a smoke-free environment. I expect that the Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the Michigan AFL-CIO and Change to Win affiliated unions along with the other organizations which have supported this “Compact” will honor our picket lines and appropriate activities in doing what it will take to see to it that the $40,000.00 a year income testified to before the Committee is lived up to.

I will be contacting those unions representing performers and musicians which we will be the opening acts and informing them what has gone down here.

The Fertitta Family will not be opening another--- fronted--- non-union casino.

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

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/


*************


Note: John Shaski--- a Legislative Assistant to a Democratic Party member of the Michigan House, after attending a conference organized by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy--- a rabid right-wing, anti-labor, racist, anti-democratic, big-business think-tank--- apparently has bought their line that “at will hiring, at will firing” in some way benefits casino workers because he used this to justify unjustified firings of casino workers during our telephone conversation. What is going on here? This Legislative Assistant to a Democratic member of the Michigan House who receives massive campaign contributions from organized labor finds “at will hiring, at will firing” a completely acceptable employment policy as used by Casino managements.

Note: John Shaski--- a Legislative Assistant to a Democratic Party member of the Michigan House, one of nine members of the House Regulatory Reform Committee dominated by five Democrats--- explained to me, in reference to the fact that casino workers will have no rights while employed in this new Gun Lake Casino, that casino workers must sign a statement--- a mandatory step in the employment process--- acknowledging that their terms of employment are contingent upon accepting “at will hiring, at will firing;” therefore, according to Mr. Shaski, these casino workers understand that they will have no rights.

Mr. Shaski then went on to say, “No one is forcing anyone to take a job in a casino. People voluntarily take these jobs and most people enjoy working in casinos.”

Well, Mr. Shaski enjoyed his job working in a smoke-filled casino surrounded by friends and fellow employees receiving poverty wages being treated like dog poop on management’s shoes so much he jumped at the chance to work in a smoke-free environment paying real living wages for a state legislator who has had no problem with taking campaign funds from unions who spent the dues of their members supporting a politician who would hire a political hack whose outlook on life with such twisted and outrageous views towards working people--- their rights; and, their health; views shaped by casino managements and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.


According to the minutes of the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee the Democratic Legislator Mr. Shaski works for refused to insist on having the “$40,000.00 a year income” substantiated with empirical documentation; and, she refused to insist on having a complete list of the forty organizations which are allegedly supporting this casino venture for which the Gun Lake Band is fronting for the Station Casinos owned by the Fertitta Family which boasts of owning a string of casinos and resort properties--- all non-union.

Union organizers attempting to get the Fertitta Family to the bargaining table have been met by thugs and violence. Interesting, but true--- not one member of the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee, in spite of having a majority of Democrats on the Committee--- all heavily backed and endorsed by organized labor--- not one of these Democrats asked what kind of track record the Fertitta Family has regarding labor-management relations in regard to union organizing drives.

I really like this idea spun by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and accepted without questioning by Mr. Shaski that working people are “voluntarily” taking these poverty wage jobs in smoke-filled casinos without any rights.

Voluntarily” is the key word here.

Do workers really take these jobs “voluntarily;” or, are working people forced into taking these jobs due to economic circumstance?

Mr. Shaski and the adjuncts of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy may want to ponder this question. To my way of thinking, Mr. Shaski and the adjuncts of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy have a very lop-sided, narrow, and distorted way of viewing the world--- although, by coincidence and chance, their views serve the goals and objectives of these casino managements and the Fertitta Family very well... and a Michigan Governor and State Legislature who would continue to ignore the plight and human rights of casino workers.

Ok, so this is the way this rotten system of casino capitalism works… but, how does one explain away the “skimming” of these casinos… just chalk that up to casino capitalism, too?

But, now, what Mr. Shaski and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy have to explain in reference to their favorite term “voluntarily,” is why workers aren’t “free” to organize into unions in order to negotiate a smoke-free working environment and to attain the $40,000.00 a year jobs that have been so widely publicized and promised.

Here is another interesting question: How come the Gun Lake Band and the Fertitta Family have had no problem coming to an agreement with Hugh Coward and the Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council; but, they have a problem with casino workers being members of a union seeking to protect their right to living incomes and a voice at work through collective bargaining?

Does anyone really believe Hugh Coward, the President of the Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council when he says he never realized casino workers are employed under terms of "at will hiring, at will hiring" without any rights?

To listen to Mr. Coward the "deal is done" and "it is too late to change anything."

Well, Mr. Coward, is this the way democracy works? You and the Gun Lake band and the Fertitta Family meet in secrecy, work out your "deal" and now you say it is too late to consider the plight of casino workers?

If, in a democracy, it is "too late" to overcome an injustice this is a very sad state of affairs. If democracy is not adaptable to modifying an agreement to include justice for all workers, including the 1,800 workers who will be employed under terms of "at will hiring, at will firing" who had no place at the table where Mr. Coward, the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, the Gun Lake Band, and the Fertitta Family created the "deal" Michigan politicians are supposed to buy into without questioning--- I question what kind of democracy we are talking about... it seems to be a very perverted kind of democracy if you ask me.

In fact, look around at all the casinos… how do these casinos get the funds to continually remodel, expand, and rebuild? Mr. Shaski and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy don’t like being pressured to explain any of this; in fact, they get highly offended and bristle in being asked this question.

These casino empires making money hand-over-fist finance all of this on the backs of poverty wage paid casino employees being ruthlessly exploited. Labor creates all wealth; and, in the case of casino workers, are rewarded with poverty wages, heart and lung problems and a myriad of cancers in return.

In fact, what ever revenue the State of Michigan receives from the Gun Lake Casino will not cover the public funds required for building the infrastructure and its continual maintenance this casino will need.

I know this isn’t the way Mr. Shaski and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy want me to look at things… but, to me this all looks like working people getting screwed and tax-payers getting ripped off while the Fertitta Family walks off with the profits and the Kansas City Mob squirms away in darkness with everything they can “skim.”


Oh, the virtues of “free enterprise,” “freedom,” and “democracy.”

By the way, I have invited every single member of the Michigan Legislature and their political hacks, including Mr. Shaski and Mr. Garbarino and Representative Barbara Farrah, to respond in writing to what I have to say rather than crying about my “unconventional methods of intervention which throw a monkey wrench into the normal political process;” all have refused.

Ahh, yes; if only working people would understand that their place in life is to submit to injustice, keep their mouths shut, and let the bosses and their political stooges do their thinking for them things would run so much more smoothly. Stick your hand out, grab an unmarked envelope stuffed with cash... and just forget about thinking... the American way of life... ain't it great?

Isn’t it terrible that Michigan Legislators have had to do the unconventional, and have been torn from their normal routine of business as usual due to my “rude behavior”--- they have been forced to think about the plight of casino workers.

To just look at some of these Legislators you kind of wonder if they are even competent to think… they have been trained to just stick out their open hand anticipating receiving a plain, unmarked envelope filled with cash… they never knew thinking--- let alone thinking about the rights and the plight of working people--- was actually a part of the political process... and their job.

Yes! Michigan!… A new day has arrived! It is taking Michigan politicians some time to adjust to this new and strange world where these politicians get their hands slapped when they reach for the stuffed envelope from the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council.

Michigan politicians have taken the stuffed envelopes from the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, the Fertitta Family, and the Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council… now, when confronted with the issue of the rights of casino workers they are in a quandary; they find themselves confronted with a moral and ethical dilemma.

What will Michigan politicians do next Wednesday?

Something to think about around the kitchen table---

Are Michigan’s Democratic Party legislators capable of overcoming the down payments they have received from the Fertitta Family and the Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council in making an ethical and moral decision based upon the plight of casino workers who refuse to pay them off?

Will Michigan Legislators sign off on the rights of casino workers and abandon their mandate to uphold the human rights of casino workers as Governor Jennifer Granholm has done?

Or, will Michigan Legislators reject this "Compact" in its present form and tell the Governor to go back and renegotiate a "Compact" that includes rights for casino workers like all other workers enjoy in Michigan under state and federal labor laws?

What will the Michigan AFL-CIO do?

The time has come to tell these casino managements to take their "at will hiring, at will firing" and go to hell.

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