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...

Friday, March 2, 2007

International Women's Day - March 8

Coming up to International Women's Day on March 8 there will be many articles written like the one below from the International Trade Union Confederation(ITUC).

Unfortunately, many, like the ITUC, continue to knowingly ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of women, the majority of child-bearing age, go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state or federal labor laws at poverty wages under the most Draconian working conditions freely dictated by the ruthless managements of the so-called "Native American owned" casino industry here in the United States.

The ITUC, like its U.S. affiliates is fully aware of the situation and acknowledges the facts as stated... but, because the Democratic Party which receives millions upon millions of dollars in campaign contributions from these casino managements and their many "front" organizations is a "coalition partner" with the AFL-CIO... this deplorable situation was allowed to take place... worse yet, continue unchallenged. In fact, Brian Melendez, the Chair of the Minnesota DFL has often referred to "our Native American friends in the casino industry;" obviously he does not include Native American women forced to labor and work in such conditions among his "friends" as he has raised so much money from his "casino friends" in the past election.

The "Native American owned" casino industry is a relatively new industry which makes this situation all the worse because at the time that politicians entered into these agreements known as "Compacts" which established this Indian gaming industry there was already a great deal of awareness when it comes to workers' rights being human rights.

In fact, former Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich, when made aware of the fact that thousands of casino workers would have no rights under these agreements sought to rectify this and he was rebuffed by his own Party, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, and state Attorney General "Skip" Humphrey, the opportunist who saw big money in the form of campaign contributions pushed these compacts through without any mention of labor rights.

Perpich, who came from a strong, left-wing, progressive family of socialists who threw in their lot with the Red Finns on Minnesota's Iron Range, was quick to identify the problem as being very similar to the problem confronting miners on the Iron Range who worked at the mercy of ruthless bosses... unfortunately, disagreements and animosity in the Minnesota DFL, illness followed by a painful death didn't allow Perpich the time to act in fighting to include the rights of workers in these "Compacts."

Anyone with the least little bit of common sense understands the harmful effects of second-hand smoke... even the DFL Senate candidate Ford Bell who was at one time the head of the Heart Association recognized this; however, to date not one single Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan politician of any political party... not even the Greens or even the Communist Party U.S.A. has had the moral or political courage to address this problem for what it is: a human rights issue; a very basic and fundamental human rights issue for working people... with young working class women the victims, and Native American women who work in these casinos under such conditions because they can not get jobs elsewhere the primary victims of these casino managements.

These casino managements shut down the ventilating systems in the winter time in order to save on heating bills.

It is time for Guy Ryder and the newly organized International Trade Union Confederation to take concrete and decisive action by insisting that John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO along with its coalition partner the Democratic Party act to correct this injustice.

On this International Women's Day the ITUC and the AFL-CIO should call upon its members and all coalition partners to boycott these casinos until casino workers are included in protections in the workplace under state and federal labor laws protecting all other workers.

It is shameful that organizations like the Senior Federation of Minnesota along with many union newspapers continue to promote "tours" to these casinos while many unions including Minnesota Education and the building and construction trades unions continue to use casino meeting rooms and convention facilities.

The Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council and the Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees' Union Organizing Committee have placed a very basic package of demands before the casino industry, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, and all of these casino managements... make the workplace a smoke-free environment like the Manitoba government owned casinos; and, we have proposed a very modest economic package: four rolls of quarters per employee, per hour... anyone who has ever set foot inside one of these casino operations understands these are very modest demands.

The Minnesota DFL has given Melanie Benjamin the right to lecture the DFL about human rights while she is one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world today by virtue of her leadership position which includes heading up the operations of two huge casinos which make money hand over fist twenty four hours a day, seven days a week every single day of the year; the Mille Lacs Band has made so much money in its casino operations that it can build a huge new hotel facility costing millions in Hinckley, Minnesota as the owners of the slot machines, the real owners of these casinos, rake in so much money without having to account for any of this wealth.

Floyd Jourdain, the Chair of the Red Lake Nation who is a Green Party member and big booster oversees a huge operation employing over one thousand workers, all paid poverty wages while working without any rights in the three casinos owned by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises. The Red Lake Tribal Council is a party to a dirty back-room deal orchestrated by Minnesota DFL United States Congressman James Oberstar that traded the protection of the Big Bog as one of the world's primary freshwater aquifers in a peat mining for casino deal.

There really is a "casino capitalism." It is a capitalism where women workers suffer the worst of the abuse, and Native American women are abused the most... with women of child-bearing age working in these smoke-filled casinos suffering the worst of the worst as the ITUC, the AFL-CIO, and the Democratic Party give their complete support to this most deplorable of situations that workers have ever been forced to labor under by employers anyplace in the world.

One of the first Native American bands to get involved in casino ventures has just purchased the entire Hard Rock international conglomerate--- a huge, far flung empire spanning the globe consisting of casinos, restaurants, resorts, entertainment, radio stations, publishing, and recreation facilities.

The Time has come for Guy Ryder and the ITUC to act in accordance to their words in this press release:


ITUC Online

Better maternity protection: a social emergency, a trade union priority

Brussels, 2 March 2007 (ITUC OnLine): Pregnancy tests as a precondition
for employment, dismissal of pregnant women, inadequacy and
non-application of the right to paid maternity leave, women in atypical
sectors deprived of maternity rights, insufficient health care for
mothers and young children... the reproductive function of working women
remains a flagrant source of inequality and gender discrimination. In
the run up to International Women's Day, on 8 March, the ITUC calls on
governments, employers and trade union organisations to make maternity
protection an action priority.

Although the legislation in many countries guarantees health care,
employment protection and paid maternity leave, the gap between the law
and rights in practice is often huge. Women in atypical work, such as
informal economy activities, agriculture, home-based work, domestic work
or even part-time employment are the most vulnerable, being all too
often excluded from any form of social or employment protection.

Only a small minority of countries (13) has ratified ILO Convention 183
on maternity protection, adopted six years ago. The ITUC is therefore
calling on the governments and all those concerned to take every step
towards the ratification and implementation of this Convention, together
with accompanying Recommendation 191, the provisions of which include 18
weeks paid maternity leave. The ITUC insists on the need to ensure that
the law protects all women, including those working in atypical sectors,
whose numbers are ever increasing with the deregulation of labour
markets throughout the world.

"The fundamental challenge is not only to meet the individual needs of
mothers but to recognise the value of the essential social function they
assume for the benefit of society as a whole. Maternity is too often
perceived as an obstacle to productivity and the accumulation of profit.
And yet recognition should be given to the considerable contribution
made by women, through their reproductive function, to the renewal of
populations and thus the labour force," says Guy Ryder, ITUC general

The ITUC calls on governments, employers and unions to work toward
valuing the fundamental social role assumed by women and to take
measures to promote the involvement of both parents in bringing up and
taking care of their children.