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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...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Card Check

This should be posted everywhere for discussion.

Labor supporters of Barack Obama have made "card check" the primary basis for their support for Obama and the Democrats and it know appears attaining even "card check" from Barack Obama and the Democratic Party is in doubt.

What does everyone think of this coming from George McGovern, one of Barack Obama’s most progressive supporters?

Does this portend what is in store from "Progressives for Obama" on other issues?

Do “Progressives for Obama” have anything to contribute concerning this little “whammy” from the Democratic Party?

I wonder how John Edwards responds to McGovern? What about Hillary Clinton? Anyone heard from Barack Obama regarding this Wall Street Journal op/ed piece by George McGovern whose support he has enthusiastically received?

This raises important questions of to what extent lobbyists exert influence over politicians, like George McGovern, even when these politicians are no longer in office.

This op/ed piece by George McGovern should also serve to explain to "Progressives for Obama" that when it comes to working class ideas, policies and solutions to problems there is one heck of a chasm between big-business monopoly interests and the interests of the working class in the Democratic Party.

Like any other pro-labor reforms, card check faces an uphill struggle, even though it has been put forward as the centerpiece of organized labor's reason for endorsement of Barack Obama.

John Sweeney and Andrew Stern along with those who advised us that the closing of the St. Paul Ford Plant was a “done deal” have told us that card check will become reality with a Barack Obama Administration and Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate… even on the one and only pro-worker policy these people have held out to working people as a reason to “vote Democrat;” this one pro-working class policy is far from a “done deal” should Obama and Democratic majorities be elected in the House and Senate.

This raises the question: Was George McGovern pressured by “team Obama” to come forward with this opposition to card check?

“Blue-dog” Democrats voiced their opposition to card check long ago, something Sweeney and Stern have ignored even as they pump millions of dollars of workers' hard earned money into supporting these reactionary shills.

To think, with all the hard-earned dues of union members being pumped into the campaigns of Obama and Democrats--- including Blue-dog Democrats--- working people will not even be able to leave the voting booth confident they are getting card check as part of the deal in return for their votes; this is shameful.

All these millions of dollars of union members might better be spent organizing a grassroots, rank and file movement against “at will hiring; at will firing” in twenty-eight states, including Minnesota and Michigan.

Better yet, organize such struggles as part of the campaign for national "card check" legislation so even when enacted, "card check" will not be undermined by “at will hiring; at will firing.”

What is most interesting, when I brought forward a resolution on the issue of “at will hiring; at will firing” (in opposition) before the State Convention of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party; Ray Waldron, the President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, along with his sidekick, Mark Froemke, organized the opposition and even after the resolution was seconded to thunderous applause... Waldron was quick to bring his floor workers into action twisting the arms of "union leaders" not to vote for the resolution I introduced calling on Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's Legislative Caucus in the Minnesota to rescind “at will hiring; at will firing” legislation.

In Michigan, UAW President--- Ron Gettelfinger, in spite of my request to him, has refused to authorize the UAW's lead lobbyist, Nadine Nosal, to undertake a campaign among Democratic Party legislators and the "labor governor," Jennifer Granholm, in opposition to “at will hiring; at will firing” and rescind, once and for all, this most Draconian legislation that is the major impediment to union organizing.

I bet even George McGovern is opposed to “at will hiring; at will firing.”

Not one single elected Democratic Party state legislator in any state where it exists, has had the courage to challenge “at will hiring; at will firing.”

“At will hiring; at will firing” is the real impediment to union organizing that even “card check” legislation will not be able to overcome.

Not once have we heard one peep from John Sweeney or Andrew Stern concerning “at will hiring; at will firing” for the simple reason that the pro-business, anti-labor Democrats we all know to be lurking in dark corners would come out of the woodwork like termites getting a good dose of Chlordane. These are Democrats The AFL-CIO and Change to Win put in office.

By the way… card check will not apply to some two-million workers employed in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages in the Indian Gaming Industry… this industry enforces its own Draconian version of “at will hiring; at will firing” claiming this state legislation in Michigan and Minnesota as their guide in “labor-management” relations.

I think we should find out what Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan have to say about all of this.

We need to take a reading of where Barack Obama and all Democrats stand on this entire scenario before Election Day because with the price of gas, there is no use making a trip to the polls on Election Day if we aren’t going to get something for our votes… on the Red Lake Nation Indian reservation here in northern Minnesota people make sure they at least get turkey or a tank of gas for making the trip to the polls because they know they won’t get anything else from their votes… all working people should learn a lesson from Red Lakers.

For anyone who really wants to know what kind of government working people can expect to get from the Democratic Party, just ask Democrats running for public office to do as George McGovern has done with "card check;" state their positions in writing on “at will hiring; at will firing.”

John Sweeney and Andrew Stern are said to be fuming after reading George McGovern's op/ed piece, printed below, in the Wall Street Journal... and justifiably so.

But, at least George McGovern is not going into public office... while Barack Obama and his mixed-bag of Democrats are.

Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Shreck has lobbied hard against "card check," too; this grouping of law firm/lobbyists of choice for big-business which has become a primary component of state-monopoly capitalism and its slavish support for AIPAC is also the major backer and booster of Barack Obama.


My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots


August 8, 2008; Page A13

As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the presidency, I've participated in my share of vigorous public debates over issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the curtain and cast their vote. I didn't always win, but I always respected the process.

Voting is an immense privilege.

That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor.

The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.

The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as "card-check." There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that protect individuals from unfair treatment. They have been a friend to the Democratic Party, and so I oppose this legislation respectfully and with care.

To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress -- including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts -- have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA's true ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends "no" when they press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

While it is never pleasant to stand against one's party or one's friends, there are times when such actions are necessary -- as with my early and lonely opposition to the Vietnam War. I hope some of my friends in Congress will re-evaluate their support for this legislation. Because as Americans, we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.

Mr. McGovern is a former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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