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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.

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- Ben Franklin

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Letter To Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Maki []

Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 6:27 PM

To: 'Kathleen Blake'

Cc: ''; ''; ''; ''; 'Bob Killeen'; 'Charley Underwood'; 'Gary Garbarino'; ''; ''; ''

Subject: RE: Support for Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and casino workers

-----Original Message-----

From: Kathleen Blake []

Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 3:49 PM

To: Alan Maki

Subject: RE: feel free to call me anytime

Good talking to you, Alan. I will pass your concerns on to Jack.


From: Alan Maki []

Sent: Wed 1/9/2008 6:45 PM

To: Kathleen Blake

Subject: feel free to call me anytime

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Kathleen Blake and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer;

Per our phone conversation this afternoon.

Here is the situation:

30,000 Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages with NO RIGHTS under state, federal, or tribal labor laws. When I say NO RIGHTS I do not exaggerate; none, zilch.

This is a result of casino “Compacts” negotiated by the DFL government and approved when Humphrey was the Attorney General and Perpich was Governor.

I would endorse Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer if he were to provide a statement, in writing, that this is a completely unacceptable situation which needs to be addressed and corrected.

In 2006 the Roseau County DFL convention passed a resolution calling on the Minnesota DFL including its state and federal legislators to convene a special conference aimed at addressing this issue in a way which would provide smoke-free workplaces and provide casino workers with all the rights other workers are protected by under state and federal labor laws.

I would point out that the present “Compacts” provide for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MNDPS) to check and test slot-machines to assure compliance and provide for the MNDPS to insure illegal gaming and other illegal activities like loan sharking do not take place; the FBI and Treasury Departments also are responsible within their jurisdictions concerning things like counterfeiting and receiving counterfeit money, drug dealing, weapons on premises, acts of violence and destruction, etc. So, it is not like the state and federal governments have no roles in regulating these casino operations under the terms of the “Compacts” with so-called sovereign Indian Nations. In fact, the Minnesota and Federal governments INTENTIONALLY excluded protections of workers under the terms of these compacts. Any legislators and public officials were fully aware that thousands of workers would be required for the operation of these casinos… just like in any other industries.

The New Democratic Party majority government agreed to the demands of casino workers that the only two huge Provincially owned and operated casinos in Manitoba located in the City of Winnipeg be smoke-free. After tremendous pressure, the Provincial government informed tribal authorities that their casinos would not be receiving any further permits for expansions (more slot machines, table games, etc) unless they agreed to go smoke-free… the first Indian owned/operated casino in Manitoba (The South Beach Casino) went smoke-free after requesting a permit to expand its inventory of slot machines… the tribes did not contest this; but, rather, did the right thing and agreed that an environment filled with second-hand smoke was not healthy for employees or patrons and went smoke-free.

The question has to be asked why the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has not pursued the same strategy here in Minnesota.

Now, Red Lake Gaming Enterprises has one more license to operate a fourth casino. I have to ask why no MN DFL candidates or federal or state legislators have served notice on the Red Lake Tribal Council, Red Lake Gaming Enterprises, and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association unless the “Compacts” are brought into compliance with all state and federal labor laws including the right of workers to be employed in smoke-free work environments.

I would point out that State Representative Tom Rukavina has told me on numerous occasions that this is a problem for the federal government to resolve (I do not agree with this). If this is the case, It certainly becomes an issue that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer would be confronted with, and expected to work for a solution, as a United States Senator.

I was happy to see that the real Norma Rey has endorsed him although she never consulted with our Organizing Council first. I wonder how she would have felt if casino workers would have ignored her organizing efforts by endorsing candidates which refused to take the side of her and her fellow workers as they battled for union recognition. I say shame on Norma Rey.

One can only conclude that because of tremendous campaign contributions being received from tribal governments and casino managements that the Minnesota DFL and each and everyone of its elected public officials has ignored the plight of 30,000 casino workers here in Minnesota because of campaign contributions from the casino industry.

I can assure you that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer would object to his children working at a McDonalds under the Draconian terms casino workers are forced into employment.

Below is the letter I wrote which was published in response to Rep. Tom Rukavina and David Dill crying about a playing field not being level:


Tuesday, June 12, 2007 Volume 18, Issue 22

Legislators should show concern for casino workers.

Over twenty thousand Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos everyday. State legislators don’t care about casino workers or casino patrons who are the same people they say they are protecting from second-hand smoke everyplace else with the new “Freedom to Breath” legislation.

If state legislators would show some concern for these 20,000 casino workers employed in an industry making money hand over fist, which subjects casino workers not only to the health hazards of second-hand smoke, but leaves them completely at the mercy of managements that have no respect for working people and their right to be employed in a healthy and safe workplace to begin with, Reps. David Dill and Tom Rukavina would not have to be complaining of an “uneven playing field.”

People sit in bars by choice; people work in these casinos because they need a job. There is a big difference; both Dill and Rukavina should be able to understand this. Workers have a right to expect that state legislators will not throw them into situations where they have no rights under state or federal labor laws and now without the protection of “Freedom To Breath” legislation, something state legislators have done with casino workers.

Who has allowed such an “uneven playing field” to develop in the first place? These legislators should look in the mirror.

It is up to Dill and Rukavina to stop crying about this smoking ban and the “uneven playing field” they created in the first place and continue to tolerate... their concern should be for the health of all workers, including casino workers, and Dill and Rukavina should take the appropriate measures to “level the playing field” by making sure all workers, including casino workers, have the right to be employed in safe and healthy work environments protected by the same state and federal labor laws that protect all other workers.

I have a great deal of respect for Rep. Rukavina and support just about everything he does as a state Legislator, but on this issue he is all wrong. Rep. Rukavina is concerned about a few bar owners when he should be concerned about the people working in these bars for eight, ten, and twelve hours who breathe in this second-hand smoke.
I am quite sure I speak for all of organized labor on this; I know I speak for most working people who want to be employed in a healthy and safe working environment.
Mr. Maki is Director of Organizing- Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee and serves on the DFL State Central Committee.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

I have a number of blog articles on the topic of casino workers and their problems on my blogs; I would call to your attention the current problems we are having in Michigan (if you scroll down the right-hand side of my blog you will find the Michigan issue which is very relevant, and similar, to the Minnesota problems:

I am very open to further discussion and dialogue on this issue.

We do intend to “make political hay” on our issue throughout the upcoming elections. During the last election we distributed over one-hundred thousand leaflets explaining our problems in Minnesota asking people to vote for all Democratic candidates except for Mike Hatch for governor. Maybe we had some impact, maybe we didn’t, but many people were made aware of our concerns.

We would rather work in a more positive way with the MN DFL and its candidates and public officials, but creating these “Compacts” then refusing to correct the injustices after more than 18 years leaves us little choice… like all other campaigns for justice for working people we are going to win; unfortunately it is the DFL and its candidates which will ultimately suffer.

We have organizing committees in each casino in Minnesota; these organizing committees could be more useful electing candidates like Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer than working to defeat those like Mike Hatch.

We expect something in return like a statement acknowledging the problems casino workers are experiencing and making a commitment to work to find solutions is not too much to ask of any candidate in return for working to elect him/her.

The Minnesota DFL is, and has been fully aware of these problems, and continues to do nothing in the face of what everyone acknowledges to be a very serious injustice.

Our Organizing Council is probably the most politically active of any union in this state, having taken a stand against the war in Iraq before it began (we were among the founding unions of United States Labor Against the War); we have tirelessly advocated for single-payer universal health care; we have advocated for reforms in other unfair laws affecting working people, etc…

We wish Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer well in his endeavors; unless he provides a written statement as I have outlined here this is as much as he, or any other candidate from the MN DFL--- or any other political party for that matter, will ever receive from us… as you know, best wishes in politics do not make for much political success… but, we return just what we receive… I wish we could do more, especially in this situation with Jack’s campaign. Our support in the areas outside of the Twin Cities which he needs could make a campaign which is faltering because of lack of this support.

Our position in these elections is just what that of organized labor has always been: we punish our enemies; reward our friends; and meet indifference with the same.

I am forwarding this letter on to George Dubovich of the United Steel Workers Minnesota organizing department as his union has indicated they possibly intend to get involved in organizing casino workers here in Minnesota and I am Cc’ing this letter to the UAW’s Dick Long and Ron Gettelfinger whose union is involved in organizing casino workers. Hopefully these unions will join with us providing progressive candidates with their best wishes and nothing more until this entire matter surrounding these very corrupt, racist and anti-labor “Compacts” is resolved. The UAW just won the right to be recognized out east as the bargaining agent for casino workers; they will never attain a union contract for these workers until the “Compacts” are brought into line with all state and federal labor laws protecting all other workers.

I have also “Cc’ed” this letter to Robert Killeen of UAW local 879 representing the workers at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and Minnesota State Legislators Rukavina and Dill since I have mentioned their names and they may want to respond. I have also “Cc’ed” this letter to Brian Melendez and Andrew O’Leary.

If anyone has any questions concerning the health of casino workers employed in an atmosphere filled with second-hand smoke day in and day out every single day of the year for 5, ten, fifteen years, I would suggest they talk to any medical doctor or the American Cancer Society or the Heart and Lung Foundation. I notice there are billboards up all over the Midwest pointing to the health hazards of second-hand smoke. Perhaps we are being lied to about the health hazards of second-hand smoke like we have been lied to about the war in Iraq; but, I don’t think so.

I would also point out that a majority of casino workers are women of child-bearing age including many pregnant women. As you are aware, the organizations I mentioned previously have noted the increased risks to women in both categories. Something Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer may want to contemplate. I would be willing to bet that Bob Killeen and the UAW would never tolerate such conditions in any plant under UAW contract. And, I would bet that the USW would never tolerate such conditions in workplaces under USW contracts. In fact, Wal-mart management would never even consider allowing its employees to work under such Draconian conditions--- now, things in the casinos have to be pretty bad when Wal-mart management will not tolerate such conditions. Why then are Minnesota legislators and MN DFL politicians tolerant of such gross violations of the rights of casino workers?

I will close by telling you that I did bring to the attention of Brian Melendez and Andrew O’Leary that a clickable link was not made from Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer’s heading on the DFL web site as had been done for all other candidates and I was happy to find after three weeks they finally corrected this intentional “oversight.” So, not only does the official DFL leadership play dirty games with casino workers; this same leadership strives to wreck any movement towards real progressive politics in many small and bigger ways just as they have relentlessly tried to quash the voice of casino workers for justice… so, we aren’t the only losers here.

Let me assure you that we will continue to work tirelessly to end this dirty war in Iraq, and to bring about single-payer universal health care as we struggle to attain our rights and a voice at work for casino workers; although, it looks to me at this point, that a Nation and a State which can not solve such a simple problem as the rights of casino workers by inserting what anyone would agree is very basic and needed language into these “Compacts” which presently deprive some two-million casino workers employed at poverty wages in smoke-filled casinos at some four-hundred casinos spread out across this country, we will have a very difficult time ending this war for oil and regional domination, or attaining a health care system approximating the humane system of health care they have in Canada.

Thank you for taking the time to call… again, in writing this letter, I speak as Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council with union organizing campaigns presently underway in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. I would also point out that our organizing campaigns were the very first in the Nation in the Indian Gaming Industry… and we intend to persevere and win our struggle for justice regardless of what politicians get elected… or don’t get elected; it would be much easier and beneficial to everyone if we could all work together.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541