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...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

President Buffenbarger Rips into Obama

International Association of Machinist President Tom Buffenbarger ripped into Barack Obama; it's about time someone did this.

Buffenbarger is now being attacked for his remarks; however, those attacking Buffenbarger are not telling the truth about what he said, or why he attacked Obama--- a very justified and long-overdue attack in my opinion.

Buffenbarger's very scathing attack on Barack Obama is much more than support for Hillary Clinton. It is the reason for this attack which discussion of Buffenbarger's remarks should focus on: defense of the rights of working people, the right to a job, plant closures; and something not too often discussed: this moribund capitalist system that has reached its most cannibalistic, decadent and deadly imperialist stage; held in place by state-monopoly capitalism which has spun a web of corruption creating the most undemocratic, racist, anti-labor political and governmental structures in history; make no mistake, there has never been a government more arrogant and corrupt than that which we have in the United States of America today, and it is quickly headed into becoming the most repressive.

For quite some time the United States has been propping up some of the worst and most brutal fascist dictatorships around the globe in protecting the multi-national corporations in their quest for ever greater profits; profits derived from stealing resources through the brutal exploitation of human labor--- and, now, this quest for super-profits has extended to driving human labor in these other countries at a deadly pace in the industrial manufacturing process--- subsidized by the American tax-payer along with the enormous profits which have been squeezed from, and accumulated through, the exploitation of American workers.

For some reason Tom Buffenbarger thinks Hillary Clinton is part of the solution; I don't know why he would think this--- I certainly disagree with him. Hillary Clinton has never been a fighter for working people--- as Buffenbarger is suggesting; although, given the choice between Obama and Clinton, I don't know why one would choose Obama... but then again, why are we in the position of having such a pathetic choice? An issue which no one seems to want to address.

With this said, Buffenbarger's remarks raise another very important question, and problem, confronting working people--- and the American people in general, which I have alluded to above that I would like to discuss after you listen to Buffenbarger's remarks; or, at least read the digested version of his remarks... links to both follow.

I am providing the reader the opportunity to watch and listen to Buffenbarger's speech for yourself so we can discuss what I see as a much larger problem and the trap Buffenbarger has stepped into.

This is the link to Buffenbarger's actual speech--- it is well worthwhile to watch and listen to this entire video:

VIDEO: Clinton supporter Tom Buffenbarger attacks Sen. Barack Obama during a campaign event in Youngstown, Ohio.

Note: You might have to copy and paste this link in the address bar of your browser to get it to work.

Here is the highlight of Buffenbarger's speech from the IAM website:



President Buffenbarger Rips into Obama

Before a raucous crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Youngstown, OH Tuesday night, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger ripped into Senator Barack Obama, taking aim at Obama’s lackluster record as a state Senator and his unwillingness to fight for working families.

“He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois state senate. Took a walk more than 130 times! That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork --- but never steps into the ring. He walks away from the fight,” said Buffenbarger.

Buffenbarger also spoke at length about Obama’s trip to Galesburg, IL in 2004, in which Obama spoke to Machinists at Maytag who were fighting to keep their factory open. The Maytag plant would eventually close and Obama did little as more than 1,600 Machinists saw their jobs shipped to Mexico. In fact, before speaking to IAM members, he accepted more than $120,000 in campaign contributions from the Crown family, including Maytag’s single largest stockholder, Lester Crown.

“Barack so loved his own performance that he made Galesburg part of his presidential stump speech,” said Buffenbarger. “All he proved is that like Janus, the two-faced Roman god, he could ACT like a friend of the working man as he DANCED to the tune dictated by billionaires.”

The criticism of Obama comes as Machinists and working families throughout the country find their livelihoods at stake heading into the 2008 presidential election, struggling to deal with a rapidly spreading mortgage crisis, skyrocketing unemployment, hefty retirement costs and the continued loss of jobs.

“Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She’s our kind of fighter. All her life she’s fought our battles. For our jobs, for our health care, for our kids and for our country,” said Buffenbarger. “The Republican attack machine has taken its best shot at her time and time again and she’s still standing – and she’s still fighting for us.”

Lester Crown (left) and buddy Shimon Peres (center):

Lester Crown is worth over FOUR BILLION DOLLARS making him one of the wealthiest men in the world and he needed to close a plant and ship almost two-thousand jobs to Mexico because he is so greedy he wants more, more, more.

So, Buffenbarger's remarks do not center on Barack Obama for his "speaking style;" but, because Barack Obama betrayed the workers Buffenbarger is paid to represent. And, I for one, think Buffenbarger did one heck of a job stating why he has no use for Obama.

The issues involved:

1. Workers were struggling to defend their livelihoods;

2. The huge Maytag Corporation was moving the jobs of these workers to Mexico;

3. Barack Obama sold these workers out in order to get campaign funding from Lester Crown and his family--- one of the wealthiest, most reactionary and viciously anti-labor families in America, who are major stockholders in the Maytag Corporation;

4. The Crown family made billions when Maytag shipped the jobs of 1,500 workers to Mexico.

For the Crown Family and the Maytag Corporation shipping jobs across borders and overseas is no different than sticking washing machines or a dryers in cardboard cartons and shipping them around the world. Jobs are shipped off to the lowest wage areas in the world in the same uncaring and a callous manner; the washers and dryers manufactured as cheaply as possible are shipped off to where they can be sold for the highest prices; manufacturing takes place where resources and labor are the cheapest... today with computer technology, entire manufacturing operations can be shipped almost as quickly as the cost/analysis can be performed by the "whiz kids"--- this is simple to understand, it is what "free enterprise," "the market system," "free markets" are all about; call it what you will; it is capitalism, plain and simple, in its highest and most advanced stage: imperialism.

State-monopoly capitalism is the structure which enables all this to take place smoothly as the Wall Street coupon clippers stuff their pockets while the capitalist sooth-sayers "explain," and "justify," it all.

Of course, we must never mention that there is an alternative to all of this.

A former head of the IAM, William Winpisinger, who once occupied Tom Buffenbarger's position as the President of the IAM, brought forward this alternative--- Winpisinger called the alternative socialism.

And this is where we, working people--- like Buffenbarger, have stuck ourselves in a trap--- we don't have socialist candidates who are alternatives to the Obamas and the Clintons.

In just about every country in the world, working people have strong socialist and communist parties which they rely upon to take their fight with the bosses into the political arena to try to make government serve the interests of the working class, rather than, the interests of the wealthy few.

A few examples...

Canadian workers have the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), which has held the dominant power in the Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for much of the last sixty years through which the powerful Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions carry forward their political activity; in South Africa, the South African Communist Party is part of a powerful coalition influencing the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African National Congress... this powerful alliance was able to break the back of racist apartheid system which was put in place to brutally control and exploit labor; this powerful alliance with workers at the helm now governs South Africa. Just days ago, the working people of Cyprus came to power through their Party, AKEL--- the Communist Party of Cyprus.

As the Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, I can appreciate Buffenbarger ripping into Obama the way he has done, and justifiably so. On the other hand, I find his support for Hillary Clinton to be less than appropriate since the casino workers I represent, over 200,000 casino workers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa are working in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal laws protecting all other workers. In fact, some two-million American workers are going to work under these very same Draconian conditions at some four-hundred such casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry spread out across the United States... and Hillary Clinton is supported by the notorious mobster and front man for the Kansas City mob, which is known for its casino skimming operations, Mr. Frank Fertitta and his "boys."

Melanie Benjamin, who oversees the huge Grand Casino empire, is one of the most vicious anti-labor reactionaries in Minnesota, and is one of Hillary Clinton's primary backers.

The lawfirm of Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck, which is also one of the most important lobbying firms and peddler of the most reactionary, most racist, most environmentally destructive, most anti-labor agenda on behalf of a bunch of mobsters who now occupy many of the corporate boardrooms in America in addition to overseeing this huge, huge casino/hotel/restaurant/resort/theme park empire controls many union pension funds including the grand-daddy of them all, the teachers' union pension fund.

So, I am wondering, why I, and casino workers, should not feel as insulted towards Clinton, as Buffenbarger is towards Obama? As a worker, as a union organizer, I am offended that anyone would support Obama after the way Buffenbarger articulated his union's grievances with Obama because an injury to one is an injury to all; and, as casino workers, we can identify with the corporate assault on Maytag workers. Why any union would be supporting Obama after Buffenbarger's very justifiably emotional attack on Obama needs to be explained by those who continue their support for Obama.

On the other hand, I would like to hear from Tom Buffenbarger why he would support Hillary Clinton knowing what is taking place under the terms of these "Compacts," which have created some four-hundred "right-to-work colonies" where American workers are forced to endure such Draconian conditions?

I think I have asked Tom Buffenbarger and the rest of the American labor movement which is squabbling over the backing of Obama or Clinton a very legitimate question: Why would any union back either candidate when organized labor could be running a fighter from among its own ranks? Perhaps Tom Buffenbarger?

How much longer will U.S. unions continue to step into the same trap before learning the lesson that labor needs its own political party?

More than just a "political party;" labor needs a party putting forward the socialist solution to this corrupt, exploiting capitalist system.

The time has come to create a working class political party that puts the needs of working people before corporate profits--- this is the solution... not Hillary Clinton; for sure not Barack Obama.

I wouldn't walk across the street to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Something to talk about around the kitchen table.

I hope if Tom Buffenbarger reads this he will give some thought as to why two-million casino workers and the Draconian conditions they are forced to endure are being ignored by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton because I think he will find a clue as to why those IAM jobs have been shipped south of the border to Mexico... perhaps some of those workers who had been employed in Galesburg, Illinois at Maytag are now working someplace in a loud, noisy, smoke-filled casino without any rights--- much like workers in the maquiladoras in Mexico--- although these sweatshop workers, have a few "rights;" casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry in the United States have no rights... how would you like to have a mobster like Frank Fertitta for your boss?

At least the Maytag repairman appears to be thinking, since, as we know from the advertisements, he has nothing better to do.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Minnesota DFL spins web of corruption: Jourdain, Ciresi, Nelson-Pallmeyer, Franken

The Indian Gaming Industry begins to set the standards for workers' rights and human rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court appears more hostile to workers' discrimination

Job discrimination cases hit new opposition

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - Two new job discrimination cases have Supreme Court justices
considering how broadly federal law protects workers from retaliation after
they complain about bias.


Big-business doesn't need the Republicans to step on the necks of working people in quashing their rights as Minnesota's DFL politicians make their way towards those grocery bags filled with cash in the offices of Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, the folksy Chair of the Red Lake Nation, which the Kansas City mob has entrusted to look out for their high-stakes interest in Red Lake Gaming Enterprises three Seven Clans Casino operations which have become the "model" of the United States Chamber of Commerce for Labor/Management Relations in the United States.

Former DFL leader Roger Moe who helped bring the notoriously corrupt--- anti-labor--- Indian Gaming Industry into Minnesota to help the Democrats rake in campaign contributions has personally taken his star United States Senate candidate, Mike Ciresi to the Red Lake Nation courting endorsement--- and, of course, campaign funds--- from the mobbed-up, corrupt "leaders" of the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council.

In hot pursuit, too, of this dirty money are Senate candidates Al Franken, comedian turned politician; and, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, the darling of the well-heeled, "latte liberal" crowd.

Ciresi is no stranger to corruption and politics.

For these politicians, from bootlegging to illegal gambling to the Indian Gaming Industry, its all just part of the American experience--- befitting a Howard Fast novel.

The employers and the Democratic and Republican politicians they buy have a set goal in mind for what they want to achieve in the way of what rights working people in this country should have. They have a United States Supreme Court whose primary role throughout history has always been to control the working class for the capitalist class. This has been the primary function and role of the United States Supreme Court since the Constitution created the Supreme Court; one need only spend a few days in any law library going through the case histories of the United States Supreme Court to find this little tid-bit of history out, which historians have tried to conceal.

Anyone who wants to see what goals and objectives the employers have in mind should closely analyze the 400 or so “right-to-work colonies” created by the “Compacts,” which created the Indian Gaming Industry--- an industry now spread out across this country because these “Compacts” clearly demonstrate and provide a working model of what employers hope to achieve and make universal instead of health care.

These are the more than four-hundred casino/resort/hotel/motel/restaurant/theme-park “enterprises” operated by some of the most powerful mobsters in the country who have donned the finest designer suits in operating these casinos through these complex “Compacts” created to establish the so-called Indian Gaming Industry.

Take a good close look at the lives of some two-million of your fellow workers who have been deprived of the most basic and fundamental human rights that you have closed your eyes to for twenty-years now who work in these loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws--- all created compliments of elected officials who have been handsomely paid off by the likes of the crooked and corrupt Jack Abramoff and Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck the lobbying firm of choice for the mobsters who inherited the “evil empire” of some of the most vicious, most violent, most debased, most anti-human elements “related” by “family ties” to Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky “families.”

It is very interesting that Mike Meurers the MN DFL party hack who works to try to keep the mobsters in the background while hired to create a clean image for some of the nastiest excuses passing themselves off as human beings would not take his "guests" to visit the casinos where Red Lake Enterprises employs hundreds of workers under some of the most Draconian conditions imaginable. In a lengthy meeting I had with Jourdain in his office concerning the plight of casino workers he kept asking me to define "Draconian." In fact, Jourdain, who will talk at length about the abuses of workers employed at Wal-marts or McDonalds doesn't want to address the plight of those workers employed by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises and it is Mike Meuer's job to make sure the DFL politicians he brings around looking for handouts never broach the subject of casino workers' rights and the deplorable conditions they labor under.

Quite literally, in these casinos, management has the “right” to rape employees in these casinos; feed patrons hamburgers made from meat of diseased cows and spare-ribs (all-you-can-eat) from old crippled sows, and boars that have become so fat and sick they can no longer get any action to fish which were “caught” belly-up floating in the polluted Dutch canals passed off as “fresh walleye.” Managers have done it all, and much more, including selling illegal booze to running loan shark businesses and drug deals along with illegal gambling, which includes taking in bets on everything from high school sporting events to professional sports with other management staff specializing in prostitution.

Mike Ciresi, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, and Al Franken should have asked Minnesota State Representative, Dave Olin--- the former Pennington County Prosecutor--- to give them the real briefing about the corruption taking place through Red Lakes' casino empire.

Not one single politician in this country has had the moral or political courage to address this issue; even the great “progressive,” Dennis Kucinich, has lauded the “accomplishments” of the Indian Gaming Industry, rather than giving these parasites the thrashing deserved.

The major “accomplishment” of the Indian Gaming Industry has been to create these “right-to-work-colonies” raking in billions of dollars for mobsters while leaving Native American communities and reservations even deeper in debt, wallowing in poverty and despair like just so many old, diseased and dying milk cows at the slaughterhouse waiting to be butchered and fed to small school children.

I am sure the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, most all of whom, have been put on the Court with help and arm-twisting of Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck (check it out--- this bunch who has its “humble” beginnings defending the Kansas City mob’s cronies) has created the present United States Supreme Court will be looking very favorably upon employers seeking to “level” their “playing fields” through depriving working people of their rights… especially those rights attained in the “New Deal” period which have hobbled employers so.

And now, the United Auto Workers union has conducted a successful “card signing campaign” among casino workers at the largest casino in the United States and they will never attain a union contract because these “Compacts” provide the legal and constitutional basis to keep the union out and a union leadership who would spit in the faces of its present members by subjecting auto workers to pre-1950 wages and benefits sure isn’t going to initiate the kind of fight required to win a contract for casino workers at Foxwoods, the largest casino/resort complex in the United States.

We were the first in the Nation to initiate union organizing activities in the Indian Gaming Industry at the Red Lake Nation’s three Seven Clans Casinos in Northern Minnesota, not one single union would support our efforts because the AFL-CIO is so wedded to the Democratic Party which gets major campaign contributions from these casino managements.

In spite of all of this, eighty-six percent of the workers signed union cards authorizing our union organizing committee--- Red Lake Casino, Hotel and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee--- to represent them. The first time I met with Red Lake Nation tribal Chair Butch Brun I was attacked and beaten by Red Lake Nation Tribal Police. The next time I met with Red Lake Nation Chair Floyd “Buck” Jourdain for over three hours and as a result of this meeting several of our organizers were beaten to a pulp.

Today we have organizing campaigns in each of the casinos in Minnesota, casinos in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa and we are now working to represent a number of workers in the entertainment/hospitality industry in Branson, Missouri hoping to link the struggles of workers with no rights to workers with limited rights. I would note: The Fertitta Family and their Colony Enterprises operating the Station Casino empire was thrown out of Missouri after trying to bribe a high public official for which they were fined a mere one million dollars. Corruption, bribery and the ruthless and Draconian exploitation of workers is the name of the real “game.”

However, until progressives, in and outside the labor movement, decide to consider the circumstances created by the “Compacts” employers are going to be demanding “equal treatment;” here in Minnesota this has already happened where bar owners are insisting they have a right to a “level playing field” with the Indian Gaming Industry when it comes to the rights of their employees to be free of second-hand smoke. Before long, we will probably see Minnesota’s “Freedom to Breath” (No Smoking in the workplace) challenged in the United States Supreme Court. And if these judges rule that bar owners in Minnesota have a “right” to a “level playing field” the door will be opened to challenge just about any labor law on the books along with a number of social programs like Social Security.

Just thought I would give all of you something to think about.

Oh, both Hillary Clinton and Obama receive big-time campaign contributions from this Indian Gaming Industry and the notorious Fertitta Family whose attorneys--- Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck cited my postings on the Working Class Studies list serve in their pending actions aimed at silencing me on this issue.

It is very interesting indeed that the UAW, United Steel Workers, Teamsters, UFCW and SEIU who all now want a “piece of the action” (dues and pension monies) in the Indian Gaming Industry as they try to prevent the rebirth of a “red” union, are unwilling to join me in speaking out against the injustices of these “Compacts” which have created over four-hundred “right-to-work colonies” here in the United States systematically through institutionalized methods deprived so many working people of their basic human rights and dignity, not to mention their rights to have a voice in the workplace.

There is a real sad irony to all of this… on the eve of a strike by security guards affiliated with the SEIU, the officers of this union have contacted me to help them convince the “casino cops” not to work as scabs when they go on strike in the Twin Cities! For twenty years this union has sat in silence and watched without uttering a single word of protest as casino workers are brutally exploited, abused and misused in every conceivable manner by these mobsters, and now SEIU leaders come crying to me that they want our help.

It is very sad to see the chickens coming home to roost.

Mr. Dubovich, the head of the United Steel Workers organizing department in Minnesota, asked to meet with me to inform me that his union was going to be horning in on our organizing campaigns here in Minnesota as the USW has sat without struggling while more than 50,000 iron ore miners have lost their jobs on the Iron Range and the USW has castrated its present membership with its attacks on rank and file committees and rank and file activists. And Mr. Dubovich, whose boss--- Mr. Bob Bratulich--- sits in his office with his feet up on his desk playing computer games all day long complains that he has a two foot high stack of unresolved grievances from the taconite plants.

The entire scenario would be laughable, if not so pathetically sad, with so many working people suffering--- over thirty-thousand in Minnesota alone not to mention their entire families--- as their standards of living is constantly being driven down, down, down.

As any school child knows, poverty will never be eliminated as long as working people are paid poverty wages. Apparently this little nugget and kernel of truth hasn't made it into the campaigns of Mike Ciresi, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Al Franken.

How low can the standards of American workers go? Right down to where two-million casino workers are at.

What is that song Utah Phillips enjoys singing, “They kicked the reds out of the unions?” And the working class is paying the price for the dumbing down of the U.S. labor movement.

Yes, Professor Martin Zweig would also prefer that this issue involving the rights of casino workers not be talked about because he forgot to include this issue in the expensive books he sells to his students, which are supposed to be educating working people who enroll in his working class studies programs. These programs come up short in teaching about rank and file initiated action, as he tries to keep the working class tethered to the current crop of labor fakers like John Sweeney and that anti-communist phony Leo Girard, who would rather no one knows about how he and his dad orchestrated an anti-communist campaign of terror on behalf of the employers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police working together with the FBI to divide the working class community of hard rock miners in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Anyways, just thought I would add a few comments on the U.S. Supreme Court and workers’ rights.

Here are photos of three Democratic United States Senate Candidates happily meeting with Floyd “Buck” Jourdain, one of the most depraved elements the human race has ever created, as they beg for his endorsement and pander like prostitutes for campaign contributions for the upcoming election.

Neither Al Franken, Mike Ciresi, nor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, all pictured below, had the moral or political courage to address the violation of the human rights of hundreds of casino workers employed by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises, even though the liberal professor--- Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer turned Democratic politician--- boasts that he has the support of “the real Norma Rae,” and his written widely about “Christian ethics and morality” in politics and the economy. For some reason making the link from words on the pages of his books to the real life situation of casino workers evades comprehension for this enlightened humanist professor.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer meets with corrupt Red Lake Band Members who have sacrificed the Red Lake Nation’s historic sovereignty in a number of casino ventures; destroying a once proud, vibrant community built in the best socialist and cooperative traditions.

In this photograph United States Senate Candidate Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and his staff person Kathleen Blake--- both of whom are fully aware of the repressive conditions enforcing the poverty of employees of Red Lakes’ three Seven Clans Casinos are forced to endure--- remain silent as they beg for support from Band Secretary Beaulieu and another corrupt Band Council member, Billy King.

Below, Floyd “Buck” Jourdain, one of the most violent and corrupt Tribal Chairs in the Nation, who the New York Times has tied in with drug dealers using the three Seven Clans Casinos as distribution centers for everything from meth to cocaine, yacks it up with comedian turned politician, Al Franken who came looking for support to buoy his floundering campaign as onlookers suck it all up--- DFL Party hack Michael Meuers, and Mr. Barrett (red an black coat) responsible for helping to manipulate the “internet news service” and works in Red Lakes Health Services but can't figure out the dangers of second-hand smoke each work on behalf of Floyd “Buck” Jourdain who runs the Red Lake Nation like an old Finnish Feudal Lord; depriving people who dare to speak up of their right to their jobs, and even takes away their homes. Jourdain “explains” to Franken the dire poverty conditions of the Indian people living on the Red Lake Reservation. Al Franken doesn’t think to ask Jourdain how people being paid poverty wages working in these casinos might escape poverty. As Jourdain is explaining the dire “poverty of my people,” the Red Lake Nation has announced that it will spend over sixty-million dollars in casino expansion projects so the mobsters who own the slot machines can live in luxury. Floyd “Buck” Jourdain is responsible for one of the most corrupt politicians in Minnesota history being elected to public office, DFL State Representative Brita Sailer who represents the most “mobbed-up” union pension fund in America teamed up with the Fertitta Family.

It must be noted that when Floyd “Buck” Jourdain came to power supported by the mobsters who really own Red Lake’s Casino empire, he took on as economic adviser the man responsible for destroying all of Red Lakes publicly owned industries that paid Red Lakers wages higher than the best union contracts in Minnesota… in return Red Lakers are now getting the poverty wages of the casino industry while getting treated less than human.

It was Roger Moe who helped bring organized crime into Minnesota so he felt right at home working the "crowd" for Mike Ciresi.

In this photo Roger Moe chums it up with the man who keeps his cash in brown paper shopping bags...

Jourdain and George Bush carried on a conversation for the world to hear shortly after the mass killings at Red Lake High School; Jourdain got along famously with Bush as the two of them discussed the need for “parental responsibilities;” a few days later Jourdain’s own son was implicated for having a role in the murderous killing spree, found to have known about the killing spree in advance but didn’t tell his dad or anyone in authority… today, the young Jourdain is incarcerated in a place where his father should be.

Democrat or Republican, Jourdain gets along with them all... this is what the Kansas City Mob has put him in charge to do.

On the evening before the Red Lake killing spree, Jourdain sat in his office talking with officials of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI, the Minnesota Attorney Generals Office and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety trying to figure out how to keep me out of their casinos and out of the reservation. Had Jourdain cared about his son’s well-being and mental health as much as he cared about the profits of these mobsters who have taken control of the Red Lake Nation, this killing spree could have been prevented.

In fact, someplace, Jourdain's son learned to admire Adolf Hitler.

In fact, the violence that these mobsters has introduced to the once peaceful Red Lake Nation is responsible for the violence the Red Lake Nation is experiencing; the drug dealing, the illegal gambling and the prostitution which have become the major “industries” having replace the home building and lumber mill industries and water bottling plant.

Jack Abramoff and his gang “laundered” millions of dollars destined for bribes and payoffs of politicians, which they transported in brown paper shopping bags, through Red Lake Nation businesses and agencies.

The employers’ next argument for the United States Supreme Court? Give us a “level playing field” with the Indian Gaming Industry… I predict these employers will cry, “It’s our constitutional right.” Far fetched? Bar owners and the Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota are already making the plans with the help of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.

Mike Ciresi, Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer have asked for my endorsement. I will leave it to your imagination what my response was to each of them.

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,

Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tainted Meat Used in School Lunches

The scandal of tainted meat being intentionally sold for human consumption to school children is one more indication that the capitalist system which places corporate profit above all else has to go.

While George Bush and acquiescent Democrats have placed the health of millions of Americans at risk they have colluded to shred our constitutional rights in the name of fighting terrorism just like they grind up tainted hamburger from old diseased cows.

I think it is very obvious that where we really need surveillance equipment, and where telephones need to be tapped is in the corporate boardrooms.

In quest of corporate profits, the Wall Street coupon clippers have placed us all at risk.

These Wall Street coupon clippers are the real terrorists we need to fear.

The real crime of this "tainted meat scandal" is that of a moribund capitalist system which taints and contaminates everything associated with it.

We are not talking about something "accidental."

We are talking about shameful and disgraceful acts carried out by corporate executives with the express intent of making money... more money than even the "normal" thievery of the "free market" apologists excuse.

Noted author and "free market" adherent Alan Greenspan just writes off these kinds of dirty scandals as normal and routine.

Only under a system as diseased and stinking rotten as the old cows slaughtered and butchered in quest of maximum corporate profits to feed small school children would such criminal anti-human behavior be excused over and over again without putting all of this together with these dirty, murderous imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the wholesale contamination of the air we breath, the water we drink and the land we use to grow our food on along with the systematic exploitation and abuse of working people.

It is not coincidental that the very same politicians, their campaign contributors and their apologists will sit in silence as two-million casino workers are forced to endure employment in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights at some four hundred casino/resorts spread out across this country where this tainted hamburger has been sold to casino patrons where there are no food inspections at all!

The time has come to say enough!

Enough of this rotten, corrupt capitalist system.

There is no way for humanity to survive under capitalism.

Something to think about: Throughout all of this, Minnesota's 7th Congressional District Congressman Collin Peterson (Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party) has been silent. Peterson was nominated by Mark Froemke a big-shot with the Minnesota/North Dakota AFL-CIO. Peterson and Froemke said we needed to elect Peterson because this Democrat who boasts that he is more conservative than most Republicans was next in line to become the Chair of the powerful House Committee on Agriculture, a position which he now holds that has netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and Peterson hasn't even had the decency to address this issue after over three weeks.

Comment: At the time Froemke nominated Peterson Froemke wasn't even a registered voter in Minnesota. Froemke has allowed the sugar beet processing industry to use and abuse workers in silence just as this AFL-CIO big shot has remained out of sight and in hiding along with Collin Peterson throughout this tainted meat scandal.

This tainted meat scandal is one more example of the epitome of the web of corruption which is spun when labor big-shots are more concerned with the corporate bottom line and cozying up to reactionary politicians than the wages and well-being of the working class.

With all the talk about our great "free media" there has been relatively little written about this scandal as newspapers and the media are more concerned with their advertising revenue from supermarkets... not to mention this is a big election year where these corporate candidates will spend more than ever before on advertising in newspapers, on radio and on television... no doubt the fact that the media has been so reticent to inform of fully about this scandal and the consequences to public health are a motivating factor behind the silence.

The two dirtiest words in our vocabulary are "corporate profits" and our great "free media" is afraid to talk about where those profits come from... and the price we really pay for the continuation of this rotten social and economic system which has elevated corporate profits to the level of some kind of sacred deity not to be criticized.




Some Tainted Meat Used in School Lunches, U.S. Says


Published: February 22, 2008

Days after the largest beef recall, the Agriculture Department said Thursday that more than a third of the contaminated meat had been used in federal nutrition programs, including school lunches.

Of the 143 million pounds of recalled meat, just over 50 million pounds was bought for use in the federal programs, the department said. About 20 million pounds of that has already been consumed. A further 15 million pounds has been located and will be destroyed, and officials are still searching for about 15 million pounds.

The meat was recalled on Sunday by a slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif., which had occasionally been allowing cows that could not walk to be butchered. Those animals, called downer cows, are banned from the human food supply because of increased risk of disease, including mad cow disease.

Most of the potentially tainted meat, about 93 million pounds, went to wholesalers who are assumed to have sold it to grocers and food processors. The Agriculture Department is contacting commercial customers of the meatpacker, the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, to determine where the beef went and to try to recover as much as possible.

Despite demands from consumer groups, agriculture officials have refused to release the names of retail outlets that received the meat. The department says such information is proprietary, though it is pursuing a regulation that would allow retailers’ names to be publicized in future recalls.

The agency shut down Westland/Hallmark after the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video on Jan. 31 that showed workers kicking and spraying water at cows and lifting them with forklifts.

The San Bernardino County district attorney has filed charges against two slaughterhouse workers for animal abuse. To date, there have been no reports of illness from the meat under recall order, and agriculture officials maintain that the risk is low.

Look at what has been going on--- all from the New York Times:


Hamburgers May Be Tainted With E. Coli


Published: September 27, 2007

Twenty-one people in eight states may have fallen ill after eating hamburgers possibly contaminated with E. coli, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The Topps Meat Company, based in Elizabeth, N.J., announced a recall on Tuesday of boxes of frozen hamburgers. The recall affects 331,582 pounds of frozen beef patties and 21 products distributed nationwide. Illnesses were reported in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A list of the recalled products is at www.toppsmeat.com.

THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE GAMBLE: The Risk of Self-Policing; New Safety Rules Fail to Stop Tainted Meat


Published: October 10, 2003

Government inspectors monitoring the automated processing line at the Shapiro Packing meat plant here over the past three years repeatedly discovered sides of beef mottled with cattle manure, a host for bacteria that can be deadly to consumers.

Last November the inspectors also found E. coli O157:H7, a dangerous bacterium spread by cattle waste, in hamburger and stopped a shipment waiting to go to public schools from a Shapiro meat-grinding facility. Yet the Department of Agriculture delayed more forceful action and never did more than threaten to shut the packing plant down.

The history of recurring violations at the Shapiro plant illustrates the weaknesses in a new food safety system that the department phased in nationwide from 1998 to 2000, say consumer groups, critics in Congress and some government inspectors.

Critics say the department's inspection arm, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, has been lax in enforcing safety procedures under the new program, even at plants with repeated violations.

Government audits, interviews with current and former inspectors and a close look at some of 113 meat recalls last year -- a record number -- show that the inspection service has been slow to establish guidelines for dealing with repeat offenders and has done a poor job of training its inspectors, leaving many uncertain when to take action.

As a result, the government has too often waited until meat became contaminated -- and people have become sick -- before forcing plants to make safety changes.

In years past, government inspectors patrolled the slaughterhouses, looking to reject, or condemn, carcasses with tumors and other obvious defects. In overhauling the system, the department expanded its focus to include a new and growing threat from invisible pathogens, and it placed the burden on companies to design their own rigorous safety plans.

Agriculture Department officials say they have made significant progress recently toward strengthening their monitoring and enforcement procedures.

''I'm confident that when we put the U.S.D.A. mark of inspection on a product that goes to the consumer that we're sure it is safe,'' said Dr. Garry L. McKee, the chief of the inspection service. ''The system is working.''

Many meat companies have made substantial safety improvements on their own. But though few consumers realize it, the government's weak enforcement has generated wide variations among meat suppliers, with some -- prodded by wary restaurant and grocery chains -- taking far greater precautions than others.

According to government inspection reports, on more than 50 days from early 2001 until July, inspectors at the Shapiro Packing plant found feces on carcasses moving down the processing line. Its meat ends up in schools, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants across the country.

On 11 days the inspectors at the plant even found the manure on numerous carcasses that had already been through special cleansing washes of hot water and acid.

Yet the Agriculture Department did not react more forcefully to the inspectors' reports until last July, when it threatened to stop the plant from operating. Even then, regulators allowed Shapiro to keep shipping, based on its pledges to correct procedures identified as the cause of the problems.

Shapiro says it removes any contamination and has never shipped unsafe meat. Dane Bernard, vice president for food safety at Keystone Foods, the private company that manages Shapiro Packing, said that the plant has fixed ''95 percent'' of the problems identified by department officials.

''We have not been putting the public at risk and that's the bottom line,'' Mr. Bernard said.

Even critics say that the concept of the new system, emphasizing illness prevention, is a big step in the right direction. But Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is the ranking minority member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said that the Agriculture Department ''really doesn't have good enforcement procedures, and they don't have any clear standards for judging whether a company's plan is adequate or not.''

The department's top auditors agreed with that assessment in a report issued late last week, saying they ''question the adequacy'' of its programs ''that identify and control hazards to the production process.''

Delmer Jones, who retired in August as chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, the government meat inspectors' union, was more scathing. ''Most any system will work and protect the consumer if you've got two things: teeth and enforcement,'' Mr. Jones said. But in many plants the safety plans are still just ''smoke and mirrors,'' he said.

Despite flaws in the system, the risk to consumers of falling ill from tainted meat remains low. Cooking hamburger to 160 degrees kills the bacteria.

Yet when contaminated meat is not properly cooked, the bacteria can be fatal; they are especially dangerous to the elderly and young children. Moreover, tracing tainted meat back to the plant where it was produced can be difficult. With the far-flung distribution networks of today, a single batch of bad meat can quickly cause illnesses in many states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 5,000 people die, and 325,000 people are hospitalized, each year from food-borne illnesses.

The government's shift to the new safety system was driven by an E. coli outbreak that killed four children and sickened hundreds of people who had eaten hamburgers from Jack in the Box restaurants in late 1992 and early 1993. The outbreak showed that food-borne bacteria, which had long been thought to produce little more than a stomachache, now had the potential to kill.

The new system, known as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program, was meant to be more scientific than the ''poke and sniff'' methods that inspectors had used to search for tainted meat since the first meat-safety laws were adopted in 1906.

The new system, using research and new technology like the steam and acid carcass washes, is intended to protect against invisible scourges like salmonella and listeria, as well as E. coli O157:H7, which can get into raw hamburger meat from cattle feces.

The new rules shifted much of the responsibility for safety to the plants, requiring them to identify vulnerable points in their production lines and build in steps to kill germs. Under the new system, government inspectors -- who by law must be present when slaughterhouses operate -- look over workers' shoulders and make sometimes difficult judgments about how well the plants' safety measures are working.

Supporters of the new system say it brought a sharp decline in the frequency of illnesses caused by bacteria like Campylobacter, which is often found in chickens.
But the rate of illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 remained roughly the same in 2002 as it was in 1996, two years before the new safety system began, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- although preliminary figures do indicate a decline this year.

The Agriculture Department urges companies to make recalls when contaminated meat is discovered -- sometimes because people have fallen ill -- after it has been shipped to customers. The department does not have the authority to order a recall.

In the biggest recall last year, one woman died and at least 46 people were sickened from E. coli O157:H7 in beef ground at a ConAgra plant in Greeley, Colo. In the report last week, the Agriculture Department's inspector general disclosed that the plant, which was owned by ConAgra Foods Inc., had been cited 66 times for fecal contamination from January 2001 until it was temporarily closed last November.

Agriculture Department officials acknowledged that they were slow to emphasize enforcement, saying they were overwhelmed just trying to ensure that all of the nation's 5,000 meat and poultry plants devised their own safety plans.

Since last year, the officials say, the inspection service has expanded training for inspectors and issued new guidelines for taking action against plants that have recurring violations. Dr. McKee, who became administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service in July 2002, said the agency had sharply increased the number of serious enforcement actions, which include shutting down a plant, this year: 460 actions in the first nine months, as compared with 267 in all of 2002.

Shapiro executives say they know of no case of illness from Shapiro meat.

Experts describe Shapiro's troubles as not unlike those at many plants making the transition to the new rules.

Mr. Bernard, the Keystone executive, noted that Shapiro had closed the Augusta plant voluntarily one day in August for employee training. He also said the company had expanded its testing for E. coli O157:H7 and was now finding less of it than the government was finding on average in its tests at other plants. ''It is a plant that has problems,'' Mr. Bernard said, ''but it is not a problem plant.''

The Plant

Safety Violations By the Hundreds

Cattle trucks, arriving full and leaving empty, drive in a constant stream through the gate to Shapiro Packing's plant on New Savannah Road. Dozens of 18-wheeler refrigerator trucks haul the meat away for distribution -- some to the Shapiro grinding plant nearby and the rest to groceries and other clients around the country.

The plant slaughters 1,200 or more cattle each day, which makes it one of the largest slaughterhouses in the country. It is part of a family of companies owned by Herbert Lotman, a Pennsylvania businessman who created a meat empire after he developed a way to mass-produce frozen hamburgers for McDonald's and who helped invent chicken nuggets. His flagship company, Keystone Foods, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., is one of McDonald's largest suppliers.

Executives at McDonald's said that its own auditors, who are sent to all of its beef suppliers, had found nothing amiss at Shapiro. Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, said that the auditors had found that the plant quickly addressed any problems that surfaced.

As a large plant with more than 700 employees, Shapiro was required to begin using the new safety system in 1998. Its slaughterhouse has adopted extra measures against contamination in removal of the hide, which may be matted with manure, and the intestines. As carcasses sweep down the line at the rate of three per minute, feces can splatter onto the meat if workers are not careful.

Over the last three and a half years, government inspectors have cited Shapiro hundreds of times for a variety of safety violations, according to reports written by inspectors stationed inside the Shapiro plant.

Consumer activists obtained the inspection documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the documents, inspectors repeatedly saw employees letting carcasses fall to the floor; ''insects in the larval stage (maggots)'' on floors; and black oil from machinery dripping onto meat.

The inspectors also reported several cases in which meat that had been condemned because of disease or contamination was not marked or clearly removed from production. On March 26, 2002, for example, an inspector asked a supervisor what had happened to cuts of meat condemned the previous day.

''Some of the meat was boxed yesterday and was shipped to the freezer,'' the supervisor replied. Inspectors tracked down the rejected meat in the freezer and again ordered the plant not to ship it, the inspection report reads.

But the reports that stand out for their frequency involve carcasses contaminated with cattle feces.

Inspectors found feces or ingesta (the contents of the stomach, which can also harbor pathogens) on carcasses on at least 23 days in 2001, according to the documents -- once every 16 days on average. In the last five months of 2002, inspectors found fecal contamination about every 12 days.

Like many large plants, Shapiro uses safety technology that includes washing carcass with warm water and pasteurization with water as hot as 195 degrees. Carcasses then go through a wash of lactic acid, meant to kill any remaining pathogens.

But inspectors at Shapiro have found feces both before and after the carcasses had been through the washes. From August 2002 through the end of that year, inspectors found manure or ingesta on 13 days. In seven of those cases, the carcasses had already been through the washes, including 20 contaminated sides of beef found on Oct. 21, another 8 on Oct. 22 and 20 more on Oct. 25.

In their reports, the inspectors described repeatedly finding the same violation. ''Preventive measures not implemented and/or not effective,'' they wrote several times.

This year brought little improvement. Government inspectors found feces on 12 days in the first six months of 2003. But the documents show that the company's own employees discovered far more. In January and May, Shapiro employees found feces on meat about every other day.

Under federal regulations, the government has what it calls ''zero tolerance'' for feces and ingesta. Carcasses must be entirely free of these contaminants after the animal has been skinned and eviscerated.

Executives at meat companies say that it is not possible to keep every bit of manure off the meat and that not all manure harbors deadly bacteria. ''I don't know that we will get to the point where we don't have a spot of fecal material,'' said Mr. Bernard, the Keystone executive, adding that the company cuts off any contaminated parts. As for any feces remaining on the carcasses at the end of the process, he said, ''The material would have been pasteurized.''

But some critics say the government seems largely to ignore its rule on feces.
''The zero-tolerance policy has public relations value, but that's about it,'' said Felicia Nestor, the director of food safety at the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group in Washington that defends whistle-lowers, including many meat inspectors. ''No matter how much fecal they find, it never seems to trigger shutdowns.''

The System

Citations Mount Up, Few Actions Taken

According to interviews with government employees, the inspectors at Shapiro and their immediate supervisor at the plant had not been properly trained on the government's new inspection system.

The employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that some inspectors became frustrated that their superiors appeared to ignore problems that they had carefully detailed in documents called noncompliance reports, which are commonly referred to as N.R.'s. ''There were repeated N.R.'s,'' one employee said. ''You would think someone would notice.''

Stan Painter, who recently succeeded Mr. Jones as chairman of the government meat inspectors' union, said there was little the inspectors could do if their supervisors, including the agency's district office in Atlanta, did not take action. ''It is not like we are writing these things and no one is aware of them,'' Mr. Painter said.

The government's delays at Shapiro were mirrored in recent cases at other plants that shipped dangerous meat. At the ConAgra plant in Colorado, the inspector general's audit noted that inspectors who alerted supervisors to repeated fecal contamination were discouraged from taking action.

Months before the ConAgra plant shipped contaminated meat last year, the government's inspector in charge at the plant sent an e-mail message to a supervisor giving a ''heads up'' that the plant had trouble with fecal contamination, according to copies of messages provided by the Government Accountability Project, which represents some of the inspectors in the plant.

After discussions among his aides, Dr. Ronald K. Jones, the inspection service's district manager, concluded in an e-mail message two months later that the inspectors should hold off on making any threat to shut down the plant. Dr. Jones said the inspectors should continue to detain contaminated meat in order to prod the company to ''submit a meaningful action plan.'' According to the inspector general's report, the company never submitted one.

Inspection service officials declined to comment on the e-mail exchanges, as did Dr. Jones. Government officials say they have made many changes in enforcement since the ConAgra episode. In May, they issued a guideline directing inspectors to ask a district office to shut a plant down if they found repeated problems.

But the new instructions still do not specify at what point the violations become too numerous. William C. Smith, deputy administrator for field operations at the food safety service, argued that government officials cannot set such standards because each plant is different.

''There is no magic number,'' Mr. Smith said. ''To say if you get 5 of this you do this, or 10 of this you do this -- it would be an arbitrary, capricious system.''
The agency is also re-examining the safety systems in all beef plants to make sure they are designed to prevent E. coli contamination. Officials point out that they are finding fewer cases of dangerous bacteria in random tests. For example, 0.30 percent of meat samples taken this year through the end of August were found to be tainted with E.coli O157:H7, down from 0.78 percent in 2002.

In addition, the government has created a group of inspectors with extra scientific training, to review plants' safety systems and if necessary help initiate recalls more quickly. The number of these consumer safety officers will rise to 300 by year's end, from about 100, officials said.

Still, the Shapiro case shows that the safety officers can be slow to act.

In March, a safety officer visited Shapiro's slaughterhouse to monitor its E. coli controls. The officer took no action, even though the documents show that inspectors had already reported fecal and other contamination of meat on 13 days in the first two months of the year.

Another safety officer began to look closely at Shapiro in July -- but only as a result of a separate case. At least 22 people in as many as 15 states had fallen ill from steaks bought from a Chicago meat company, Stampede Meat. Shapiro was one of 38 suppliers to that company.

Government officials said they were not able to tie the tainted steaks to any specific supplier. But after scrutinizing most of the suppliers, they threatened to shut down three, including Shapiro. In a July 18 letter, the government said the Augusta plant had ''failed to take appropriate corrective actions or effective preventive measures'' to stop contamination.

Shapiro executives said that the bacteria found in the steaks sold by Stampede could not have come from Shapiro. Mr. Bernard, the Keystone executive, said that last year Shapiro began testing samples from every 2000-pound box of meat for E.coli O157:H7 just before shipment. Only 6 out of 5,970 boxes have failed the test this year, he said. The tainted meat was sold to a company that cooks it to destroy the bacteria and uses it for chili or dog food, he said.

''Our main focus is to make sure the product that goes out the door is safe to consume,'' Mr. Bernard said.

The Actions

Some Improvements, Still Some Risks

While the government has struggled with enforcement, many meatpacking plants -- including the ConAgra site in Colorado, now owned by Swift & Company -- have added new safety precautions. Others have lagged. As a result, experts caution, it is hard for consumers to know whether the meat they buy comes from the cleanest plants.

Since the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at its restaurants a decade ago, Jack in the Box has ordered its suppliers to test far more extensively for pathogens than the government requires. Other fast-food chains and some retailers, like the Costco Wholesale Corporation, have followed suit.

David M. Theno, Jack in the Box's senior vice president for quality assurance and product safety, estimates that 40 percent of the nation's meat plants now do a ''superior job'' on safety, and that 30 percent to 40 percent are ''pretty good.''

Referring to the remaining 20 percent to 30 percent, Mr. Theno said, ''There are people at the other end of the thing that aren't doing well at all.''

Caroline Smith-DeWaal, the food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said consumers should check with their grocery stores and their children's schools ''to ensure that they have strict standards for testing for harmful pathogens.''

Sara Lee Corp. Pleads Guilty In Meat Case


Published: June 23, 2001

The Sara Lee Corporation, one of the nation's largest makers of hot dogs and supermarket deli meats, pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge that it had produced and distributed tainted meat that sickened scores of consumers and was linked to about 15 deaths.

The company agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle civil and criminal charges brought by the United States attorney for Western Michigan after a 1998 nationwide recall of deli meats and hot dogs that were produced at the company's Bill Mar Foods plant in Zeeland, Mich.

Sara Lee, which makes Ball Park and Hygrade hot dogs and Sara Lee Deli Meat, recalled about 15 million pounds of meat in December 1998 after the federal government determined that a rare strain of listeria bacteria in the company's hot dogs and cold cuts had probably sickened people in several states. It was one of the largest meat recalls in United States history.

A year ago, Sara Lee settled a class-action lawsuit brought by consumers who said they had been harmed by tainted meat produced at the Bill Mar plant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified the plant as the source in a nationwide outbreak of listeriosis, which is most harmful to pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems. In healthy people, the bacterium generally causes flulike symptoms.

Sara Lee, which is based in Chicago, closed some lines at the plant in December 1998 and has since spent about $25 million on renovations to a site that government inspectors said in the time leading up to the outbreak was infested with roaches and contained old meat and debris.

Still, Phillip J. Green, the United States attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., said today that the company was only charged with a misdemeanor and not a felony because investigators found no evidence that Sara Lee intentionally produced or distributed adulterated meats. The company had cooperated with the investigation, Mr. Green said.
''It is tragic that people died,'' he said, ''but the law does not provide for a felony charge unless we can show that the company knew and intended to ship adulterated foods.''

Friday, February 15, 2008

Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Precinct Caucus Resolutions Approved; What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own

Participants in the February 5, 2008 Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Precinct Caucuses passed the following resolutions:

Resolution in Support of Senate File 607

Whereas Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Senator Richard Cohen has authored, together with his DFL Senate colleagues--- Senate File SF 607---legislation which would keep the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam which powers the manufacturing operation for free, together as an industrial unit for at least two years after Ford ceases production until a plan can be devised for its continued operation;

Whereas DFL State Representative Tom Rukavina successfully steered companion legislation to SF 607 through a House Committee with bipartisan support;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party supports the efforts of MN DFL State Senators James Metzen and David Tomassoni to have SF 607 reconsidered in the Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs;

And, be it further resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party uses its majority status in both the Senate and the House to bring forward legislation as provided for in SF 607 aimed at saving two-thousand jobs by keeping the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam together as a manufacturing unit until a solution is found to re-open the Plant.

Resolution 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation from the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for public ownership being used to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, hydro dam, and two-thousand jobs.

Resolution on Bush’s Economic Stimulus Plan and Initiative

Whereas George Bush’s “economic stimulus plan and initiative” is based upon 150 billion dollars---tax-payer dollars--- being used to bail out a failing economy which includes subsidies to private industries;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for tax-payers owning the industries which tax-payer dollars subsidize in proportion to what they subsidize.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Indian casino unionizes in Connecticut despite tribal claims of sovereignty

I would note that the UAW has yet to negotiate a contract at Foxwoods... getting majority support for the union does little good without a contract... over five years ago, 86% of the employees of Red Lake Gamimg Enterprises' three Seven Clans Casinos, a motel, a hotel, a water park and Lakeview Restaurant signed cards authorizing our Organizing Committee to represent them in negotiations with Red Lake Gaming Enterprises and the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council. Since that time almost every worker who signed a card has been fired, and Red Lake Gaming Enterprises has hired USIS, the largest union busting outfit in the world, to harass and hound union members.

The headline to this story is very misleading; the article itself is somewhat accurate but again, fails to fully explain why this Indian Gaming Industry exists in the first place. These casinos are a direct result of how corrupt the political process in this country has become... no politician, except a completely and totally corrupt politician would ever vote for any one of the "Compacts" which give birth to these casinos without any concern for the welfare of over two-million working people.

I would note that newspapers and tv and radio have refused to cover this issue; why? Just look at the millions of dollars spent on promoting these casinos in newspapers on the radio and television.

The Indian Gaming Industry has created the same politics of corruption in tribal governments as with state and federal governments and government agencies... remember Gale Norton and her buddy Jack Abramoff... well tribal governments are impacted the same way as the New York Times pointed out the Red Lake Nation Chair is up to his eyeballs in drug-dealing, graft and corruption.

Apparently the UAW makes nice contributions to In These Times.

Labor Hits Jackpot

Indian casino unionizes in Connecticut despite tribal claims of sovereignty

By Melinda Tuhus

Gamblers play slot machines at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.

Foxwoods Resort Casino rises from the hills of rural southeastern Connecticut like a gambler’s Oz.

It is one of the country’s biggest Indian casinos and it is the largest employer in the state, with 10,000 workers. Of those employees, about 2,600 are dealers of games such as poker and blackjack. And on Nov. 24, 2007, many of these dealers placed a bet on a better life with the United Auto Workers (UAW).

That’s when 83 percent of workers eligible for the bargaining unit voted by a 60-40 percent margin to join the union.

It’s the first election at an Indian casino to be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which made a groundbreaking ruling last year that allowed Indian casinos to be unionized. But casino management has appealed the vote, claiming it violates tribal sovereignty.

Mary Johnson, a union organizing committee member, began working at Foxwoods 14 years ago, not long after the Mashantucket Pequot tribe opened the casino in 1992.

She says that as a blackjack dealer, conditions were pretty good until spring 2007, when a 5 percent across-the-board raise turned out to be a mere pennies-per-hour increase for some workers. Johnson says starting dealers make a base pay of about $4.50 an hour, and $18 to $20 an hour counting tips.

In early 2007, management raised medical insurance deductibles, reduced its prescription drug plan and disbanded the Employee Group Council created to promote communications and as an outlet for workers’ grievances, Johnson says. As a result, workers at Foxwoods asked the UAW to represent them.

The union has a history of successfully organizing workers at other casinos—an industry that rakes in more than $58 billion annually (almost $26 billion of that from Indian casinos, according to the National Indian Gaming Association).

Anna Wermuth, an attorney who represents employers in labor cases, is critical of the 2007 case involving a union victory at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, Calif., that set the precedent for the NLRB decision in the Foxwoods case.

“What happened with the San Manuel case is that the [National Labor Relations] Board … [retreated] from its prior decision that Indian-owned-and-operated enterprises that operated within the confines of a reservation were not subject to the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act],” she says.

The San Manuel case also included for the first time a look at the clientele and the workforce at the Indian casino. Both were found to be primarily non-Indian, thus weakening the sovereignty claim, in the NLRB’s view. (In the Foxwoods case, only about 30 of the casino’s 10,000 employees are tribal members.)

Lance Compa, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Labor and Industrial Relations, strongly supports the NLRB ruling, saying the agency ought to have jurisdiction in the Foxwoods case.

“We just don’t want a situation here where we have enclaves [that can’t be unionized],” Compa says. “And these are not little enclaves—this is a huge booming industry, the gaming industry. And we can’t have enclaves throughout the United States where workers’ fundamental rights of association aren’t respected and enforced.”

Bruce MacDonald, spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequots, is refreshingly candid when he says management “blew it” in its communication to workers about the way raises were apportioned last year. He also notes that management disbanded the Employee Group Council because workers said it was ineffective and replaced it with small group meetings with managers.

MacDonald says the seven-person elected tribal council is appealing the workers’ vote for the UAW to the regional office of the NLRB.

“The tribe has maintained that it does not object to organizing on the reservation,” he says, “but it wants the organizing to take place under the jurisdiction of tribal law, not the National Labor Relations Board.”

He explains the main difference with NLRB procedures is that tribal law is more like the laws that govern state employees—workers have no right to strike, management cannot impose lockouts and disputes require binding arbitration.

The tribe is appealing on jurisdictional grounds—claiming the vote to join the UAW violated its sovereignty rights—and also on procedural grounds—charging the union with intimidation and with printing ballots only in English. (But organizing committee member Johnson says management requires the dealers to speak English, and Foxwoods’ job application and employee manual are only in English.)

On Dec. 21, the regional NLRB office in Hartford, Conn., issued a ruling on the tribe’s objections, dismissing the challenge to its jurisdiction in the election, but forwarding 10 objections relating to intimidation of anti-union workers and the lack of accommodation for non-English speaking workers for a hearing that, as In These Times went to press, was scheduled for Jan. 15. At that time, both parties will present testimony.

If the tribe loses there, it can refuse to bargain with the newly certified union and seek redress in the federal courts.

Johnson, however, is optimistic. She says organizing committee members are convincing more dealers to sign union cards.

“We’re moving forward,” she says. “It’s pretty exciting.”

The following is my response to this article:

Our rank and file initiated Organizing Committee, the Red Lake Casino, Hotel and Restaurant Employees' Union Organizing Committee made the first attempts to organize workers in the Indian Gaming Industry... we could not get any support from any union.

Over 80% of the workers employed by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises signed cards and the NLRB refused to do anything as did politicians here in Minnesota.

The UAW has bungled several attempts to organize casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry and they are on their way to bungling this one.

We, the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, at present have ongoing union organizing campaigns at all casinos in Minnesota, two casinos in Wisconsin, two in Iowa and two in Michigan at the Island Casino near Escanaba and the Odawa Casino in Petoskey.

The UAW has repeatedly refused to join us in opposing the "Compacts" which create these tribal casino operations.

In fact, I have had to, literally, throw UAW leaders sitting at slot machines at the Odawa Casino out, lest I take their picture putting money into the "one arm bandits."

To complicate matters, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has refused to join us in opposing the "Compact" --- first approved by Democratic, UAW backed Governor, Jennifer Granholm, then approved by the Michigan House, which is now before the Michigan Senate.

This "Compact" for the Gun Lake Casino will allow the notoriously corrupt and anti-labor Fertitta Family to manage this Gun Lake Casino through its Station Casinos.

Why would the UAW not join with us in opposition to allowing one more casino to open under the terms of this "Compact" which intentionally excludes any rights for casino workers?

Right now, the Indian Gaming Industry, which is nothing more than a front for a bunch of mobsters, operates over 400 casinos under the Draconian terms of these "Compacts."

Over two-million American workers, and an untold number of undocumented workers, are employed in these loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws all at poverty wages--- with or without tips.

Even the minimum wage laws and hours laws are not enforced, nor is the Family Leave Act.

Casino workers are routinely denied breaks and often forced to work double shifts without even a lunch break.

Why are politicians approving these "Compacts" creating these casinos fully aware that they are insuring the continuation of the most vile deprivation of even the most basic of human rights-- never mind being denied a voice at work.

Casino workers are victims of all kinds of insurance fraud, scams and schemes like AFLACK, promoted by Wayne Newton and his quacking white duck.

The question which needs to be asked is why Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is being allowed to pull over another fast, shady shuffle on Michigan workers, many of whom will end up working in these casinos when they lose their jobs negotiated away by Ron Gettelfinger and the UAW in the auto industry?

Here in Minnesota, State Legislators passed a law prohibiting smoking in the work-place--- that law is not being enforced at casinos.

The casino industry in Minnesota now employees some 30,000 workers in these smoke-filled casinos.

Doesn't the American Cancer Society and the Heart and Lung Association see anything wrong with sending so many people to work in these smoke-filled casinos?

Many casino workers are young women of child-bearing age who these health organizations have identified as being at greatest risk.

The racism and anti-labor agenda of politicians, many of whom are backed big-time by "organized labor," is sickening.

That these casinos would find so many patrons, including many union members, to continue sticking their pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into the one-armed bandits is a national disgrace. Which makes me wonder why the International Confederation of Trade Unions has never looked into this shameful situation as part of their campaigns for justice and dignity at work.

I don't think there has been a greater disgrace in this country since the days of slavery and the day the United States government murdered 38 Native Americans on the gallows in the mass hanging in Mankato, Minnesota, their crime: standing up for their rights against capitalist exploitation and the stealing of their lands... the situation in the Indian Gaming Industry is a continuation of the campaign of genocide... if there is anyone who doesn't believe this, try working day-in and
day-out in one of these smoke-filled casinos and then come home at the end of the week and not even be able to afford to buy groceries to feed your children.

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

Elected Member, State Central Committee,
Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party


Monday, February 4, 2008

Save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant

Take these resolutions to your Precinct Caucus tomorrow evening, Tuesday, February 5, 2008.

For locations of your Precinct Caucus click on this link:


Simply copy these resolutions and attach them to the "Resolution Forms" at your Precinct Caucus.

Please try to get your Precinct Caucus to pass both resolutions.

Resolution 0n the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant/Hydro Dam and 2,000 Union Jobs

Whereas Ford Motor Company has stated its intent to close the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, sell the hydro dam to a foreign corporation, and displace two-thousand workers in the near future without consultation from the workers, the community, or local and state governments;

Whereas this plant, its operations, and the hydro dam have received continued support from every level of government including tax-payer funding, tax-breaks and tax abatements under promises to maintain manufacturing operations and with assurances workers would have job security in St. Paul, Minnesota;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for public ownership being used to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, hydro dam, and two-thousand jobs.


Resolution in Support of Senate File 607

Whereas Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Senator Richard Cohen has authored, together with his DFL Senate colleagues--- Senate File (SF) 607---legislation which would keep the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam which powers the manufacturing operation for free, together as an industrial unit for at least two years after Ford ceases production until a plan can be devised for its continued operation;

Whereas DFL State Representative Tom Rukavina successfully steered companion legislation to SF 607 through a House Committee with bipartisan support;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party supports the efforts of MN DFL State Senators James Metzen and David Tomassoni to have SF 607 reconsidered in the Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs;

And, be it further resolved, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party uses its majority status in both the Senate and the House to bring forward legislation as provided for in SF 607 aimed at saving two-thousand jobs by keeping the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam together as a manufacturing unit until a solution is found to re-open the Plant.