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, April 29, 2007

Erosion of Unions Hurt Women

Dear Portside Moderator;

I found the posting of the article “Erosion of Unions Hurt Women” to your list by a top leader of the AFL-CIO very hypocritical. In the United States, over one million women are now working in what is referred to as the Indian Casino Gaming Industry which is nothing more than a front for mobsters and organized crime; an industry resulting from one of Meyer Lansky’s brain-farts after being kicked out of Cuba by Fidel Castro.

These casinos make money hand-over-fist because of the way employees are abused. These women--- and men--- most of whom are young are employed without any rights, or a voice at work. These women, mostly of child-bearing age, go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state, federal, or tribal labor laws; all receive poverty wages.

The AFL-CIO, along with its Democratic Party partners here in Minnesota and across the United States, has remained silent and done nothing in spite of repeated requests for assistance, and support.

I found it very interesting that during the last campaign for United States Senate here in Minnesota, even the most “progressive” of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party candidates, Ford Bell, refused to address this issue even though he was the President of the Minnesota Heart Foundation which has called for smoke-free work environments; and, all the casino managements, without exception, endorsed--- and funded--- the DFL candidate for governor, Mike Hatch. Both Ford Bell and Mike Hatch personally called me begging for my endorsement… I smiled when they lost.

In Michigan, fully aware of all of this, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm--- a woman and mother--- while sitting in her smoke-free office ignoring her fiduciary responsibilities to Michigan residents signed another “Compact” to allow the building of one more casino in west Michigan under the same Draconian circumstances.

I would point out that in the Canadian province of Manitoba, casino workers are represented by the Manitoba Government Employees’ Union; they are paid real living wages, and work in a smoke-free environment. Of course it helps when a member of your union, Gary Doer, is the socialist Premier of the Province and a member of the ruling socialist New Democratic Party; and the casinos are provincially owned and operated public enterprises; just like the single-payer, universal health care system. Socialist politicians understand that smoke-free working environments are healthier for workers and save the health care system lots of money... but then again, socialist governments always put the rights of working people before corporate profits… and that is why the socialist government of Gary Doer is headed for its third consecutive term in office leading Manitobans to a better life… as Democrats here in Minnesota lack the moral and political courage to do what a previous New Democratic Party socialist government did when the Ford Motor Company decided to close up shop in Winnipeg… the Province simply told Ford to go to hell and took over the operation.

Portside, like most list serves supporting the Democratic Party and AFL-CIO leadership--- neither of which has seen fit to challenge capitalism, has never enlightened its readers about Canada’s New Democratic Party… the party of the Canadian Labour Congress… and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has never seen fit to tell American workers about what is taking place north of the border.

Concern about the rights of women workers coming from the AFL-CIO, give me a break… this is the same kind of hypocritical talk about workers’ rights coming out of the newly formed International Trade Union Confederation… which refuses to address the issue of the rights of casino workers.

The reason there is an erosion of unions in this country to start with is that organized labor has been under such stupid and misguided leadership which has left the education of the working class to the corporations... there is a huge gap between words and deeds... when I see John Sweeney or any of his administration, including the author of this report, talking to casino workers about their problems like Gary Doer does, I might take such reports as "Erosion of Unions Hurt Women" a little more seriously; but it is all just part of the same old hypocritical capitalist game being played where working people are being played for suckers by both the corporations and union leaders.

I am beginning to think the corporations have placed a bunch of "moles" in the AFL-CIO unions. Make no mistake, these casinos are corporations, huge corporations...

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,

Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee


Member of the State Central Committee, Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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Thoughts From Podunk


Think these casinos aren't profitable? Check out this story from BBC News:

Seminole tribe in Hard Rock deal

There are Hard Rock outlets in 45 countries
British entertainment company Rank Group has agreed to sell its Hard Rock Cafe chain to an American Indian tribe for $965m (£490m).
The business is being bought by the Seminole tribe of Florida, which already runs Hard Rock-branded hotels and casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.

The Hard Rock business made a pre-tax profit of £35m in 2005 and has 132 outlets worldwide.

Rank will now focus on online and phone betting, casinos and bingo clubs.

It has sold off a number of leisure businesses in recent years, including Butlin's, Warner Holidays, Odeon Cinemas, Pinewood Studios and pub chain Tom Cobleigh.

No surrender

Rank said it would pass £350m of the sale proceeds to shareholders via a special dividend.

"Today's announcement sets a clear strategic course for Rank as a focused gaming business," said chief executive Ian Burke.

"We have established clear plans to capitalise on the changes taking place in UK gaming."

The 12,000-strong Seminole tribe has lands in Oklahoma and Florida, and its main business interests are in tobacco, tourism and gambling.

The Florida Seminoles had relied on cattle, citrus fruits and federal loans for economic survival until the late 1970s, when they opened their first bingo hall and tax-free tobacco store.

The tribe now runs two massive Hard Rock hotels and casinos on two of its reservations in Florida and has gaming businesses on three other sites.

It is the only American Indian tribe never to have signed a peace treaty with the United States.
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Four years after $60 million scandal, ousted leader of Seminoles ready for comeback

By Mike Clary
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 20 2007

Four years after being ousted as chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida amid a $60 million financial scandal, James Billie is planning a comeback.

As charismatic as he is controversial, Billie, 63, has declared himself a candidate to reclaim his old job in the May 14 tribal elections.

While declining to reveal details of his platform before campaigning begins in earnest next week, Billie vowed to "bring integrity back to the tribe, and let the people's voice be heard."

If elected, he said, he would work to maintain the tribe's prosperity while exploring the use of natural, homeopathic cures for such vexing tribal problems as diabetes and addictions. "Indian medicine," he said. "I would like us to be pioneers in that."

Confident of being returned to office, Billie said, "In my heart, I'm still chief of the tribe. They stole it from me."

The current chairman, Mitchell Cypress, is one of the tribal leaders who pushed for Billie's dismissal in 2001 when he was suspended. Today is the deadline for filing candidacy petitions.

Cypress could not be reached for comment Thursday but told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel last week that he was seeking re-election.

Also campaigning for the chairmanship is Moses "Moke" Osceola, now president of the tribe's board of directors.

Since his ouster in 2003, Billie has concentrated on his chickee-building business and steered clear of tribal politics and many ceremonies.

But with the sting of his dismissal now lessened, Billie said, it is time to announce, "Here I am. I'm back."

Before he was suspended from office and later impeached from his $312,000-a-year job, Billie held the chairman's post for 23 years. Under his leadership, the Seminoles in 1979 pioneered high-stakes bingo, which opened the door to an American Indian gaming industry that now rakes in more than $22 billion a year.

At the same time, the Seminoles moved from poverty to stunning wealth. The tribe's seven casinos took in more than $1.1 billion in 2005.

But the free-spirited Billie -- Vietnam veteran, pilot, songwriter, alligator wrestler -- offended other tribal leaders with a series of secret deals that included moving $60 million in tribal money to a brokerage account.

He funneled tribal funds into a secret offshore Internet gambling venture, invested in an airplane manufacturing plant, made a down payment on a $30 million luxury jet and started up a cattle operation in Nicaragua.

Although Billie eventually apologized for some of his activities, he was never charged with wrongdoing and the Seminoles agreed to pay him $600,000 when settling a lawsuit initiated by the tribe.

Seminole businessman Carl Baxley, a candidate for council representative from the Hollywood reservation, said Billie's return to the political arena was a positive development. "He probably was treated unfairly," Baxley said. "Let the people decide."

The elections, along with Billie's return to tribal politics, come at a crucial time for the small tribe, which last December paid almost $1 billion for the Hard Rock International empire and has ambitious expansion plans.

The tribe is poised to begin negotiations with the state on a compact that could permit the tribe to install Las Vegas-style slot machines in its casinos. Under such an arrangement, the state could get a cut of the tribe's gambling revenue.

Of the approximately 3,200 members of the tribe, 1,640 are older than 18 and eligible to vote, according to tribal secretary Priscilla Sayen.

The tribe will publish an official list of candidates Monday.

Also up for election are council representatives from the Big Cypress, Brighton and Hollywood reservations, and three spots on the five-member board.

The tribe chairman serves as vice president of the board, while the vice-chairman of the council is president of the board. The tribal council oversees the gaming operations; the board is responsible for other tribal businesses, including gas stations, cigarette shops, cattle and citrus enterprises.

Mike Clary can be reached at mwclary@sun-sentinel.com or at 561-243-6629.

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