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...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama asked to resolve injustices of casino workers

President-elect Barack H. Obama;

I write to you on behalf of the workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry at the suggestion of a number of concerned labor and human rights activists.

Some two-million Americans work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws in the Indian Gaming Industry as a result of the "Compacts" creating this industry.

What do you intend to do to correct this injustice?

Sovereignty is NOT an issue. There are around 200 sovereign nations in the world today and none of these sovereign nations are without any rights for working people.

In fact, these "Compacts" allow for state and FBI enforcement of state and federal statutes involving criminal activity.

In fact, these "Compacts" allow for state regulatory agencies to assure that slot machines are in compliance.

But, when it comes to protecting the rights (human rights) of workers there are no provisions in these "Compacts" to protect the rights of workers.

There are now over 450 such gaming establishments (casinos/resorts/restaurants/hotels/motels/amusement and theme parks) comprising the Indian Gaming Industry.

Congress and the Department of Interior along with various other state and federal governments and agencies are involved.

If "sovereignty" was the reason for the federal and state governments remaining aloof from protecting the rights of these workers there would be no need for the state or federal governments and various state and federal agencies to be involved in the Indian Gaming Industry because Indian Nations would not be coerced to come to state and federal governments for approval vis-a-vis these "Compacts" in the first place.

I would call to your attention that the Provincial government of Manitoba, Canada remedied this very easily by telling tribal governments that unless they made their casinos smoke-free the government would not consider any further approval for new casinos or casino expansions.

The United States government could very easily do the same thing and insist that before any further "Compacts" are entered into they would have to include smoke-free provisions and provisions that all state and federal labor laws would be adhered to and state and federal departments of labor would be responsible for enforcement.

That some two-million workers (not including those who quit or get fired which comprises many more workers because of the huge turn-over) are employed under such draconian conditions in the United States of America is shameful.

We expect that the Employee Free Choice Act will be written to include these workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry before you sign it.

We further expect that you will address the issue of the need to rescind "at-will hiring, at-will firing" legislation in some twenty-eight states which as it stands would render "card check" useless.

Right now there is the "Gun Lake Casino Compact" pending in the Michigan Senate, having been approved by Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan House with the full knowledge by Governor Granholm and each member of the Michigan Legislature that this was one more "Compact" which would deny basic and fundamental human rights to another two-thousand casino workers. Since you have such a chummy relationship with Governor Granholm and David Bonior who is supposed to be a champion of labor rights you should have no problem convincing Governor Granholm that she should request this "Compact" be withdrawn for approval pending the suggestion that the rights of casino workers must be included... this would set a precedent that would be difficult for future "Compacts" to ignore.

Also, you should be aware that second-hand smoke in the workplace has been designated as one of the primary health concerns by the American Cancer Society and the Heart and Lung Foundation. Further, many casino workers are women of child-bearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers for whom the health hazards and dangers of second-hand smoke are known to be very vulnerable.

Two issues are involved with the problem of second-hand smoke for casino workers.

First is the obvious direct health factor.

Second, is the fact that you have talked a great deal about cutting health care costs. Common sense dictates that millions, if not billions, of dollars can be saved in health care costs by eliminating smoking in the Indian Gaming Industry.

Scientific figures are not available for second-hand smoke related health care issues and costs in the Indian Gaming Industry because these casino managements have refused to participate in the collection of data by state and federal agencies and the American Cancer Society and Heart and Lung Foundation which raises another grave concern related not only to worker health in the place of employment, but the human rights of workers to be made aware of the health dangers in the workplace.

In short, workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry have no rights at work; they have no voice at work. Workers employed under these conditions have no rights and no voice in the communities where they live lest the employer finds out about activities considered to be inappropriate.

At the largest casino operation in Minnesota, and one of the largest in the Indian Gaming Industry in the United States of America employing over 5,000 workers... Mystic Lake Casino/Resort/Hotel/Restaurants... workers are forced to sign a statement acknowledging that they will be terminated from employment if they engage in any form of union organizing activity which includes signing a union card.

As the world is about to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2008--- each and everyone of the rights articulated in this important Declaration are being denied over two-million workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry.

Many of these workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry are people of color which raises the question of racism.

Many of these two-million workers are very young workers for whom this will be their first job under these atrocious working conditions, thus creating other obvious problems.

In addition, these casino managements are employing thousands of undocumented workers making for an even more complex situation. Imagine, if you will, working in a place of employment where even those around you have no rights!

I call to your attention that Amy Berglund, the Regional Assistant to United States Senator Carl Levin claims to know nothing about this disgraceful and shameful situation workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry even though, right under her nose, workers are being fired left and right by the Island Casino management.

I would also call to your attention that most of these casinos are managed by non-Native American firms such as the Fertitta's "Station Casinos." I trust you know the history of Frank Fertitta and his involvement in gaming. I doubt that you would want one of your own children growing up having to work for such an employer while being denied of all rights.

Perhaps we should get together to discuss these concerns. Two-million Americans being intentionally and systematically denied their human rights is no small matter; especially with the sensitivity across the globe there is to human rights issues. We hope that with your election these injustices will come to an end... this is the change casinos workers seek from your election.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by e-mail or by letter--- U.S. Post.

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


President Maggie Bird, Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

David Bonior

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota

Minnesota State Representative Tom Rukavina

Minnesota State Senator David Tomassoni

Amy Berglund, Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Carl Levin

Elizabeth Reed, Staff Assistant, U.S. Senator Carl Levin

Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Trade Union

President Benjamin Todd Jealous, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Idled workers occupy factory in Chicago

More info and what you can do here:


By RUPA SHENOY, Associated Press Writer Rupa Shenoy, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – Workers laid off from their jobs at a factory have occupied the building and are demanding assurances they'll get severance and vacation pay that they say they are owed.

About 200 employees of Republic Windows and Doors began their sit-in Friday, the last scheduled day of the plant's operation.

Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days' notice required by law before shutting down.

Workers also were angered when company officials didn't show up for a meeting Friday that had been arranged by U.S. Rep Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, she said.

During the peaceful takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

"We're doing something we haven't since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," Fried said.

Union officials said another meeting with the company is scheduled for Monday.

Representatives of Republic Windows did not immediately respond Saturday to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said authorities were aware of the situation and officers were patrolling the area.

Crain's Chicago Business reported that the company's monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors."