Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


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, January 21, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming

An "inconvenient truth" about global warming is that this problem will not be resolved until working people are fully brought into the decision making process.

The "Labor and Sustainability Conference" held this weekend (Friday and Saturday) in St. Paul, Minnesota at the UAW hall and in the UAW-Ford-MNScu Training Center connected to the Plant was a great success that exceeded the expectations of all. Bringing together mostly labor activists that included labor leaders and rank and file activists, together with some environmental activists and a few Minnesota legislators there was near unanimous agreement that when public funds are used to find solutions to global warming, industries receiving these funds should be publicly owned... a case in point being the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant slated for closing which will leave two thousand auto workers who built Ford Rangers without employment. The plant is about as "green" as any manufacturing process will ever reach; and, this "green" accomplishment is the direct result of the far-sighted efforts of the workers and their union that pushed "green" at the bargaining table because workers understood that a manufacturing process that is healthy for workers employed in the plant would contribute to a more livable community outside the plant. This "green manufacturing process" that has come to be the hallmark of the Twin Cities Ford Assembly Plant is a very hi-tech plant complete with a publicly financed research center along with its own green, clean hydro generating facility on the Mississippi River providing all power required to operate the plant at full capacity that is an example of where we need to see production heading. As a result everyone is wondering why such a plant would be closed, when in fact it could be kept open under public ownership that could see employment rise to 10,000 to 14,000 workers if operated properly producing those elements of what a "green" society will need in order to bring global warming under control. It was noted that hundreds of other jobs are dependent on the continued operation of this plant, including the jobs of many miners in the Taconite industry on the Iron Range.

There was a general consensus among those attending this "Labor and Sustainability Conference" that the struggle to keep the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open is where a new level of worker participation in the decision making process must begin.

Organizers and those in attendance felt that this conference marked a new step in bringing together liberals, progressives, and socialists who voiced the opinion that they were looking for this conference as a beginning to fostering further initiatives.

Those in attendance came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, California, North Dakota, Ontario, and Manitoba.

One hundred eighty seven people attended the Friday evening opening session, and more than three hundred people participated altogether including in one or more of the eleven workshops.

Most of the participants were from Minnesota and came from all areas of the state; from Warroad, Ely, the Iron Range to Duluth and Thief River Falls and from as far south as Mankato.

This conference will be the topic of many more postings in the weeks ahead and more information can be had at the conference's web site.

We shall see how the major media covers this conference.

Also of interest was the fact that the need to end the war in Iraq and the struggle for single-payer, universal health care were very closely connected to the issues being discussed with these two topics constantly popping up in workshops and casual discussions.

The labor agenda seems to be coming clearly focused on these statewide issues: the need to keep the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open, protect jobs on the Iron Range, stopping Minntac from contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, and lands of northern Minnesota, and halting peat mining in the Big Bog.

This conference laid bare the lie that workers want jobs no matter what the consequences to the environment. Workers want jobs that pay living wages that do not harm the environment.

There was unanimous agreement that any job is a good job as long as workers have the benefit of being protected by union contracts. It was pointed out on numerous occasions throughout the conference in many different ways and through examples that most of the jobs now being referred to as "good jobs with good wages and benefits" were at one time among the jobs that were considered the dirtiest, most unsafe jobs that nobody would have thought of as being good jobs until union organization was achieved.

There was unanimous agreement among those in attendance that there was no shortage of jobs, but that to turn jobs into good jobs it would be necessary to organize the unorganized.

It was also repeatedly pointed out throughout the conference that many of the worst corporate polluters can get away with their dirty deeds only because employees without the benefit of union contracts were afraid of exposing what the corporations are doing because of fear of losing their jobs.

There seemed to be a very mixed feeling concerning how labor should approach some of the more controversial methods aimed at, or claiming to, be alternatives to halting global warming but one thing that was very clear, labor activists are prepared to talk to each other and others about their differences of opinion on these issues in a very forthright and friendly way.

Perhaps the most important conclusion that anyone coming away from this conference, whether a conference participant or an observer, is that working people feel they have a right to fully participate in the decision making processes that affect their rights in the workplace and in the communities where they live... working people are insisting on having a say in this decision making process, and have served notice by their participation in this worker initiated and organized "Labor and Sustainability Conference" on the corporations and the politicians that working people will not settle for anything less.

Many people told conference organizers that they wanted to attend the conference but had other commitments... and many of those who did not attend were involved in many other aspects of making this conference the success that it was which will insure that this conference is just the beginning of something that is sure to become a lot bigger.

One thing for sure: this conference continues to build on the true thinking, creative, action-oriented, progressive legacy for which Minnesota's workers are well known.

Pictures of the conference will be posted in days ahead.