Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

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...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


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, September 28, 2010

I loathe Republicans... but---

I loathe the Republicans but they don't scare me; neither will calls pandering to fear scare or intimidate me into voting for worthless Democrats who are no better than Republicans.

I keep getting asked: Who are you voting for?

Here in Minnesota I will be voting for Democrat Mark Dayton for Governor and I will be voting early. I only wish I could vote often like they do in Chicago :)

I will vote for Mark Dayton but for no other candidates in this Election.


I will vote for Mark Dayton because he has stated... he will not attack public employees and use them as scapegoats for Minnesota's financial problems created by those representing the well-heeled and wealthy few of the Summit Hill Club who created the mess we are in.

Mark Dayton has brought forward into the political arena a real solution to this financial and economic mess we are in: Tax the rich. This makes perfectly good sense to tax those who made huge profits while creating this economic mess. "Tax the rich" is the primary way for us to begin the redistribution of wealth in our state as we defend and protect out social programs so many people require to survive.

I will vote for Mark Dayton for Governor of Minnesota because he has stood up and called for the creation of a state-owned and managed casino industry to compete with the thoroughly crooked and corrupt Indian Gaming Industry where over 40,000 Minnesotans are now forced to work in these loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws as the non-Indian owners of the slot machines run off with the wealth leaving the Native American people to languish in shameful poverty without one single representative in the Minnesota State House or Senate even though the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association spends tens of millions of dollars bribing politicians to maintain the injustices of this status quo.

More than anything I respect Mark Dayton's stand for equality for all peoples and the stand he has taken in defense of the strict enforcement of affirmatve action which will break the back of institutionalized racism in Minnesota once and for all.

Mark Dayton won a narrow primary victory over a run-of-the-mill big-business supported Democrat who was no different than any Republican, and he is in a tough race against two very pathetic politicians pandering to bigotry and fear using lies and deceit rather than any meaningful approach that includes real solutions to our many problems.

I would encourage every voter in Minnesota to take the time to listen to this brief speech Mark Dayton made before the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's State Central Committee:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlipIaVskPc
 
I will not be voting for any other candidates--- Democrats or Republicans; I would never vote Republican unless Abe Lincoln were to rise from the grave. I will not vote for any of the other Democrats who will be on my ballot because they are no better than their Republican counterparts when it comes to solving the problems working people are experiencing--- in fact, they are part of our problem.

The one thing I would hope to see from Mark Dayton which he has remained silent on, is that he stands up and speaks out loudly and clearly in defense of democracy against these horrible raids and the issuance of subpoenas to peace activists ordering that they appear at a Grand Jury inquisition to answer questions one would expect from goose-stepping quislings of some two-bit, half-assed fascist dictatorship because our democracy is very fragile as it is after years of Pawlenty and Bush--- our democracy likely cannot survive being plunged into another era of McCarthyism.

Hopefully, Mark Dayton will be calling for the disbanding of the "Red Squads" in Minnesota which are destroying our most basic and fundamental human and constitutional rights by infiltrating organizations in order to thwart citizen participation in the democratic process that is basic and fundamental to democracy.

As for all of you pushing people to vote without thinking, here is something to consider:

If I were to vote for Democrat Collin Peterson for Congress I would be voting for a candidate more reactionary than any Republican because these are Collin Peterson's own words to the media:

"I am more conservative than any Republican."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Who gave the orders for these raids and issuance of subpoenas to appear at an inquisition if not Barack Obama?

President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director Leon Panetta,  National Security Administration Director General Keith B. Alexander and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have worked in collusion in these raids against peace and international solidarity activists with their subpoenas summoning them to a Grand Jury investigation in Chicago known for its corrupt courts including the Federal Judiciary to supposedly find out what connections exist between peace activists, international solidarity activists and the victims of U.S. imperialism's oppression and wars.


How do we know there has been this collusion between Obama's White House and these other agencies? Because we know from what has been released in the joint report from the FBI and CIA--- "Family Jewels"--- that this is the way these agencies collude and cooperate.


We also know from the long-running COINTELPRO operations that they work in this manner.


What is even more interesting is that the organization under attack right now were Obama supporters in 2008.


First came attacks by Obama's White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs who tried to badger and bully the opponents of these dirty wars into silence. No one was bullied... in fact this plan backfired on Obama and the Democrats.


Then came Obama himself, this time with an attack trying to silence his growing liberal critics. Again, this didn't work too well for Obama.


So, out comes the Obama Administration in full force against a tiny left-wing cultish grouping pulling together supporters of Mao--- an organization which had been vigorous supporters during the 2008 Election Campaign and beyond. Even now while under attack, this little group has managed to avoid using Barack Obama's name. Why? To shield the Democrats in the November Election?


Where are the Democratic Party members of Congress insisting that these subpoenas be withdrawn? Where are Democratic Party officials in the local communities? Why are they not condemning these raids and subpoenas? Is it because local law enforcement and in the case here in Minnesota, that the Public Safety Commission is all part of this "network of cooperation" established with help from Humbert Humphrey known as "Red Squads" created under the Communist Control Act which Humphrey was its principal author? At the time, Humphrey used this most anti-democratic legislative initiative to help him destroy the last remaining influence of the Communist Party's activities in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were murdered by this exact same kind of collusion between these government agencies operating like sewer-rats under the cloak of darkness.


The Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union which is nothing but a front group for the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, has remained completely silent about this fascist-like cabal that has been operating out of Washington for years which is now headed up by Barack Obama.


This closed-door Grand Jury inquisition must not be allowed to proceed. We know from our history that this is the way the infamous and destructive anti-democratic Dies Committee got off the ground in 1938 and in 1947 Joe McCarthy began his anti-Communist crusade in the same secretive manner behind closed doors... even when the American people clamored against these closed door hearings... McCarthy stacked the hearing rooms with his anti-Communist, racist, anti-Semitic and fascist supporters while Hubert Humphrey entered the picture and made it possible for these agencies to collaborate behind closed doors in organizing its attacks on Communists, peace activists, labor and civil rights activists. Our country has never fully recovered from the "Red Scare" and now Barack Obama is launching us into another round of political darkness with these raids and subpoenas to a secret Grand Jury.


All those who have been issued subpoenas should refuse to show up for this Grand Jury inquisition they are calling an "investigation"... they should seek refuge in a church and they should receive the support required from the liberal, progressive and left communities in this country with a bona fide and legitimate defense committee established, not their stupid little front groups the FRSO is known for, since there are no organizations at present willing to fight this case as it should be fought--- including making Obama and the Democrats pay on Election Day... how much more of this crap are people going to put up with from this Wall Street health insurance salesman who is nothing but a flim-flam man and con-artist extraordinaire who told us all in his essay written exclusively for Foreign Affairs Magazine, Renewing America's Leadership, exactly what his neo-liberal  Wall Street agenda was going to consist of: wars abroad and austerity at home which anyone with an ounce of common sense knows requires political repression.


Freedom Road Socialist Organization, while claiming some kind of "vanguard" status sure didn't do its job in educating people about Obama's real Wall Street agenda--- but we shouldn't hold this against them as we build a network to defend democracy because we all know that this has been in the works for many months, if not for two years because this kind of government operation requires the expenditures of hundreds of thousands of dollars with massive paper-work and "investigative" work for any government to frame people as democracy is smothered.


One would hope that here in Minnesota, Mark Dayton would have the moral and political courage to add the abolition of Minnesota's "Red Squads" to his agenda of reform which includes taxing the rich to pay for public education and healthcare; establishing a state-owned and managed casino and enforcement of affirmative action... which, by-the-way, Obama has never instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to pursue with the same zeal he is now trying to persecute, intimidate, badger and likely begin prosecutions of peace activists. After all, if the intent of these raids and subpoenas and a Grand Jury inquisition is not to prosecute anyone, what is this massive governmental bureaucracy and cabal doing?


Really, doesn't anyone find it strange that the Office of the Attorney General of the United States would not go after state, local and federal agencies along with huge contractors and engineering firms stuffing their pockets with "stimulus funds" while refusing to enforce affirmative action as required by Executive Order #11246? Again, like the push for more involvement in these dirty wars, Obama's and the Democrats' priorities are all screwed up.



Free Kittens... a must read

This comes from my friend in Canada, Howard Pawley... who included a brief note: 

For a Laugh or two! 

Tommy Douglas would tell this story.

Howard


Note: Howard Pawley is writing a book about his life which will include his time as the New Democratic Party (NDP) Premier of Manitoba Canada.--- A.L.M.

FREE KITTENS 



A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the sidewalk in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.

Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a tall, grinning man.

"Hi there little girl, I'm Mr. Ignatieff. What do you have in the basket?" he asked.

"Kittens," little Suzy said.

"How old are they?" asked Ignatieff
Suzy replied, "They're so young, their eyes aren't even open yet."

"And what kind of kittens are they?"

"Liberals," answered Suzy with a smile.

Ignatieff was delighted. As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.

Recognizing the perfect photo op, the two men agreed that  Mr Ignatieff should return the next day; and in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the sidewalk with her basket of "FREE KITTENS," when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from CBC, CTV,  and CNN.

Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Ignatieff got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy.

"Hello, again," he said, "I'd love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you're giving away."

"Yes sir," Suzy said. "They're New Democrats."

Taken by surprise, Mr. Ignatieff stammered, "But... but... yesterday, you told me they were LIBERALS."

Little Suzy smiled and said, "I know. But today, they have their eyes open" 


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tell Barack Obama: Stop the FBI attacks on our movements in solidarity with FARC-EP in Columbia



Some background info on FARC-EP:

The United States and the Colombian ruling oligarchy have, since the 1960s, repeatedly implemented socioeconomic and military campaigns to defeat the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ej√©rcito del P...ueblo, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC–EP). However, this offensive, whose main purpose is to maintain capitalist accumulation and expansion, has resulted in an embarrassing setback for U.S. imperialism and the Colombian ruling class. In a time of growing and deepening U.S. imperialism, it is important to examine this failure. Over the past four decades, despite U.S. efforts, support has risen for what has been the most important continuous military and political force in South America opposing imperialism. I examine how the FARC–EP has not only maintained a substantial presence within the majority of the country but has responded aggressively to the continuing counterinsurgency campaign. I also show as false the propaganda campaign of the U.S. and Colombian governments claiming that the FARC–EP is being defeated. This analysis provides an example of how a contemporary organic, class-based sociopolitical movement can effectively contend with imperial power in a time of global counterrevolution....

read on:

http://www.monthlyreview.org/0905brittain.htm

Friday, September 24, 2010

The FBI and "Red Squads" have raided the homes and offices of peace activists... no doubt the terrible liberals and "professional leftists" Obama has been ranting about...

I read the articles about these raids on peace and solidarity activists who work like I do in solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling against the barbaric Israeli killing machine. If the FBI should be going after anyone, and they shouldn't be going after anyone for the reasons being given in the newspapers, they should be going after President Jimmy Carter since he has had more contact with all of these organizations than anyone.

The worst part of all of this is not even the raids--- as heinous as they are; but, what has the FBI been doing in order to obtain these kinds of search warrants and issuing subpoenas like this... how many phones of how many people have been tapped? How many e-mails have been intercepted? How many demonstrations have been spied on where photos of everyone were taken and then the people investigated?

We are talking about FBI agents spending thousands upon thousands of hours, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and probably conducting surveillance and investigations into the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people... and, now, with the confiscation of computers and photographs they probably have the names of thousands of people more who they will be "investigating."

This is the same FBI that can't catch a bunch of drug peddlers working through Minnesota's casinos.

In fact, if "terrorists" wanted to get into the country all they have to do is purchase a $25.00 ticket on one of the many "casino" excursion buses coming from Canada and they would never be detected because Homeland Security has strict orders not to bother these casino patrons lest they chase business away.

I wonder how the apologists for the Israeli killing machine from the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party will spin blame for this on George Bush and the Republicans?

Like Mark Twain, the pre-eminent American anti-imperialist used to say, "Democracy is always the first casualty of war."
 
These raids are Barack Obama's raids. 

The FBI is investigating and harassing peace activists when they should be arresting war criminals in the highest places of power in our country.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Immigration, A Perennial Issue Of Concern In The U.S.

Note: This is a guest blog by Brian McAfee of Muskegon, Michigan. I note the "Dream Act" is referenced at the end... I want it understood that I do not support the "Dream Act" in its present form because its primary intent is to bolster and strengthen the United States military... as far as I am concerned, the "Dream Act" is one more Obama fiasco that serves to divide people by including something that is helpful into a piece of legislation that is mostly an attack on the working class... I invite any and all responses for publication including from Brian. Other than the Dream Act, I share Brian's concerns about immigration which I think he has an excellent take on this issue. Alan L. Maki  

(Please note: Brian has asked me to include here that he only supports the Dream Act without the inclusion for the military, and this is my position, too. Alan L. Maki)

Brian submitted this response to my "note" above:

I also support the passage of the DREAM act:
During the first six years, the immigrant would be granted "conditional" status, and would be required to graduate from a two-year community college or complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military. After the six year period, an immigrant who met at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status. During this six year conditional period, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, but they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.[11]
If the immigrant did not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six year time period, their temporary residence would be revoked and they would be removable. They also must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years. Being convicted of a major crime, or drug-related infraction would automatically remove the six year temporary residence status and they would be subject to deportation.[citation needed]
If the immigrant met all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, they would be granted permanent residency, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens.
An estimated 65,000 immigrant students[12] graduate from high school each year.[13] However, it is not known how many of those were eligible go on to complete the further requirements. It is estimated that currently only 7,000–13,000 college students nationally can fulfill the further obligations, a drastic drop from the already limited pool of those initially eligible.[14]
The bill also restores the option for states to determine residency for purposes of higher education benefits by repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1623).[9] The majority of states interpret this provision as disqualifying unauthorized students from certain higher education benefits such as in-state tuition rates.[15] Some states have enacted laws aimed at making unauthorized state residents eligible for in-state tuition rates without violating this IIRIRA provision.[16] However, some students paying out-of-state tuition have filed lawsuits in these states, claiming state education officials violated this federal law.[17] Repealing this provision would provide states the ability to choose their own residency requirements for higher education benefits.



MYTH #1: Illegal aliens take American jobs.
FACTS: For the most part illegal aliens work jobs Americans simply do not want. They are farm workers, janitors, chambermaids, busboys, dishwashers, gardeners, nannies, and household domestics. Those are not the careers most Americans seek. The jobs immigrants perform in the U.S. are usually minimum wage with no benefits. They do the lousy, back-breaking work Americans can but refuse to do.
MYTH #2: Illegal aliens don't pay taxes
FACTS:
The majority of illegal aliens pay the exact same taxes you and I pay. Most illegal aliens work for employers who don't know they are illegal or, possibly suspect they may be illegal but don't want to know for sure. As a result, the typical employer of an undocumented worker deducts all the federal income and other taxes from all his employees -- legal and illegal alike.
MYTH #3: Illegal aliens don't learn English or assimilate
FACTS:
The typical Mexican who grew up in Mexico attended school there for only 3 to 6 years. As a result, most of the older Mexicans who are here only speak their native language at a basic level. As a result, it is tremendously difficult for many of those adults to learn fluent English. The children of those older immigrants, however, go to school in the U.S., are immersed in English-speaking American culture, and virtually all speak English. Those second-generation Mexicans speak English and assimilate into U.S. culture the same way the Irish, Italians, Japanese, and every other group of new immigrants have in the past.
MYTH #4: Illegal aliens don't contribute to the U.S. economy; they just come here to get on welfare.
FACTS:
Illegal aliens contribute immensely to the U.S. economy. They work hard and perform the essential jobs that are vital to keeping the U.S. economy moving forward. They pay taxes and consume goods -- from cars and gas to groceries and houses -- and buy services which, in turn, benefit U.S. citizens selling those goods and services.
As for illegal aliens signing up for welfare, U.S. law strictly prohibits those here illegally from obtaining welfare, food stamps, or any other type of public assistance.
MYTH #5: Illegal aliens can and should apply to legally come in to work in the United States.
FACTS:
Great idea, except it just happens to be impossible. The present system for employment-based immigration allows only 5,000 low-skill Green Cards per year for the entire United States.
MYTH #6: Illegal aliens are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of crime.
FACTS:
Numerous reputable studies have shown that the problem of crime in the United States is not caused or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. Over the past few years, when someone is arrested the first question they are asked by the police after their name and address is, "Where were you born?" If the answer to that question is not "U.S.A." the Border Patrol is automatically contacted. The person, if undocumented, is immediately placed into the deportation process. As a result, undocumented individuals have a very high incentive to not break the law.
MYTH #7: Illegal aliens abuse the health care system.
FACTS:
The general rule is that those who are here in undocumented status are not entitled to any taxpayer funded health care. The exception to that rule is that those here illegally can get emergency medical treatment. A recent RAND corporation study states as follows: "The foreign-born (especially the undocumented) use disproportionately fewer medical services and contribute less to health care costs in relation to their population share."
MYTH #8: Illegal aliens can and should be ferreted out and deported from United States.
FACTS:
This solution is not likely. The estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States is equivalent to the entire populations of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho combined. It would be impossible to locate and deport that many people. Besides, millions of those adults unlawfully here have an estimated 4 million U.S. citizen children who the government would be required to find foster parents for if their parents were deported. Finally, if a magic wand was waved and all undocumented workers were gone tomorrow, it is highly unlikely that native-born Americans would do the lousy, backbreaking agricultural and other minimum wage/no benefits work that the undocumented do in the U.S. economy.
MYTH #9: The illegal alien problem would be fixed if we just completed the fence along the southern border.
FACTS:
For every 15-foot fence there is a 16-foot ladder or a shovel that can dig underneath it. Besides, 40 percent of those undocumented in the United States -- about 4.4 million -- entered legally and overstayed their visas. The fence may help but it alone will not solve our immigration situation.
MYTH #10: The proposed immigration reforms in congress are just another "amnesty."
FACTS:
Amnesty is defined as "Forgiveness without penalty." All of the immigration reform proposals require payment of a fine (maybe $1000), learning some English, paying all back taxes (if any are owed), and going to the back of the line before obtaining Legal Permanent Residence status.
MYTH #11: Americans don't support immigration reform.
FACTS:
When Americans are asked, "Do you support a legalization program that would allow those in the U.S. illegally to obtain legal status if they could meet the following requirements: a strong work history, no serious criminal convictions, no deportations, learn some English, pay all back taxes, pay a fine and go to the back of the immigration line," numerous polls have shown that 60 to 70 percent are in favor of such a solution to our immigration situation.
MYTH #12: Denying illegal aliens driver's licenses will help solve the immigration problem.
FACTS:
That's crazy. The overwhelming reason why the undocumented are here is to work. Almost all workers in America need to drive to get to work. Workers, especially farm workers, typically must travel long distances to get to and from work. From the point of view of the public safety of U.S. citizens, it is much better if everyone driving on the highways has completed a driver's course and has qualified for a driver's license.
MYTH #13: If every employer was required to verify the social security number of every employee, we could solve our illegal immigration situation.
FACTS:
Well, yes, sort of. A mandatory social security verification system is a good idea but only if there is an earned legalization program put in place simultaneously. Under current circumstances, requiring social security verification without earned legalization would create chaos in many sectors of the U.S. economy. It is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of farm workers are undocumented and the percentage of undocumented workers in many other low-skill, minimum-wage, no benefits jobs -- such as dishwashers, gardeners, dairy workers, janitors, chambermaids -- is also very high.
MYTH #14: A law like the new law in Arizona would solve our immigration situation.
FACTS:
The Arizona law is an overreaction and can best be compared to how we overreacted in 1942 when the U.S. government placed all west coast Japanese in internment camps. Thirty percent of Arizona's citizens -- more than 2 million people -- are Hispanic and legal. The Arizona law is vague and invites discrimination against them.
MYTH #15: Those who are upset about the current immigration situation are racists.
FACTS:
Of course, some racism does exist in this debate. But for the most part the American public is frustrated and angry that our elected officials prefer to play "gotcha" politics with this difficult and controversial issue rather than addressing it in a mature, common sense manner. Most Americans recognize that most of the people here illegally are working hard at low-end jobs, and they believe the politicians should find some rational solution to this very contentious matter.
The solution to our immigration dilemma will only come from comprehensive immigration reform. That reform must include four parts:
1) Secure the southern border
2) Allow those here to apply for earned legalization
3) Require all employers to verify the immigration status of their employees
4) Allow some flexible number of low-skill Green Cards in the future in light of the needs of the U.S. economy.

    Cultural Exchange

  1. Immigration can lead to an exchange of values, knowledge, expertise and perspectives. Because of immigration, people are exposed to diverse languages and cultures that are different from their own, adding to the richness of any given society.

    The Economy

  2. Whether immigrants make up the brains behind research and technological development or help meet a country's demand for labor, they are often seen as a boon to the economy of the recipient nation. Many immigrants represent the most intelligent, hard-working and ambitious people of their native countries. Allowing them to bring their talents and skills to another country can be enriching for immigrants and the recipient nation. In addition, immigrants add to the country's consumer base, helping the economy.

    Fighting Poverty

  3. While some believe that the jobs and wealth of a country are its own private property, others believe immigration is a key to opening the global market and spreading wealth into less-developed countries. Thus, immigration can be viewed as a valuable tool in combating world poverty.

    Keeping it Legal

  4. Allowing for a steady flow of legal immigration minimizes the incentive for illegal immigration. By reducing or cutting off the flow of legal immigration, illegal immigration becomes more commonplace, leading to a range of problems from creating a drain on taxpayer services to an increase in crime rates.

    Positive Image

  5. A welcoming nation that allows for reasonable immigration and treats immigrants fairly will more likely be known for such virtues and respected throughout the world. 

 

Immigration, A Perennial Issue Of Concern In The U.S.

                                                                                                      By Brian McAfee


The issue of immigration was brought to the forefront recently by Arizona’s discriminatory immigration law SB 1070, which would require police and other public officials to ask all or any Latino looking people to show their ID’s. This demonstrates an attitude oriented towards criminalizing immigrants in general and a hostile outlook towards Hispanics in particular. The anti-immigrant attitude was also evident in Utah a few months ago when a list was published and widely distributed with the names and personal information of 1,300 supposedly illegal immigrants concerning which some were actually born in the U.S., but happened to have Hispanic looking names. The people that created the list signed it “anonymous”, i.e.- cowards.

At the same time, many in the right wing of America are targeting the 14th Amendment, which states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction there of, are citizens of the United States and of the states where in they reside.” They (the right) have dubbed them “anchor babies” and, in effect, wish to criminalize babies.

Understandably, there is a heightened climate of fear that many immigrants experience due to such extreme animosity being directed toward them. Yet, immigrants have nearly always been a perennial scapegoat of the right. Indeed, they make easy targets as they often have little or no political clout and generally cannot fight back through legal means.

Racism, I believe, is one of the fundamental components of the hostility towards immigrants. I don’t really like to use the word “race” or overly emphasize “racism” as a factor, especially as I believe that “race” is a misnomer in that all of us are of the same race, the human race. I use it only because it is in the common vernacular while often used to point out an imaginary great divide linked to ethnic variance and supposed negative traits that are assigned to people who superficially appear different.

My interest and activism on behalf of this and similar issues began about 1980 when I lived in California. Then I was involved with the anti-interventionist movement that was against U.S. policies of backing right wing dictatorships, and training militaries and death squads from El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as throughout much of Latin America. I was also active in CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

At the time, the group was opposed to U.S. operations that supported government leaders and armed forces involved in widespread imprisonment, torture and murder of innocent civilians to prop up a corrupt regime favoring U.S. business interests. Due to the resultant turmoil in their land, many Salvadorans, throughout the 80′s and into the 90′s, came north as refugees and were helped by the sanctuary movement that sheltered many of these illegal aliens.

Movement members understood that, if the refugees were deported to El Salvador, they would likely be found and killed by the Salvadoran government/death squads whose commanders the U.S. funded and trained at the School of the Americas in Georgia. In relation, El Salvador had 75,000 killed and, concurrently, Guatemala had 200,000 civilians killed in the 80′s and 90′s.

All considered, many refugees, aside from those from El Salvador, came to the U.S. during that period. Yet because of our government’s ratification of their nations’ brutal regimes, our public officials showed indifference to their story and hostility to their needs at the time.

Later on when Newt Gingrich and the Republicans introduced their Contract with America, many of us rejected its viewpoints. We noted, amongst other unacceptable positions, its ratification of a strong anti-immigrant stance, one that instilled a great deal of anxiety among many immigrants, including my wife who is from Thailand.

Understandably, many immigrants from all parts of the world feared deportation in relation to this ugly contract. So they worked to quickly obtain U.S. nationality and, representing a fairly common mix for that era, there were about 300 new citizens comprised of approximately 70% Latin Americans, 20% Asians, and 10% Europeans and Africans during one of the many citizenship ceremonies taking place then.

Meanwhile, I, as always, have a positive attitude about immigration and the ethnic mix of our country. I view both as a good occurrence, especially as newcomers and people with diverse cultural backgrounds bring a fresh perspective to many varied issues that concern us all. They also often provide valuable goods and services that vitalize the economy and strengthen community ties.

To learn more details about this topic, please refer to DREAM Act – Act On A Dream, Tom Roach’s Myths muddle the immigration morass | OregonLive.com, David A. Sylvester’s Reagan’s Refugees: Why Undocumented Migrants Have a Right to Work Here and Michael O’Brien’s Newt Gingrich Outlines New ‘Contract With America’.

I welcome any comments and can be reached at brimac6@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On intellectualism and intelectualism


 
Good work you do. It is critical that we have Dems for this Nov. election - although I have plenty critic on issues.
Also - we have big challenges in Cali - I agree with you.

I am pleased on your responses - specially for unreal ones such as...Alan L. Maki!
Oh! boy, some are still in La! La! land of intelectualism!
September 13




 
‎"La, la land of intellectualism"... cute; first time anyone ever called me an intellectual.

Run this through your head: I work with casino workers trying to organize in the Indian Gaming Industry who are forced to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages and without any rights under state or federal labor laws because the Democrats thought the campaign contributions they would receive from these mobsters were more important when writing the "Compacts" creating this Indian Gaming Industry where the rights of working people were intentionally omitted.

I hope you have as much compassion and empathy for the two-million casino workers in this country as you do for the Democrats and Barack Obama.

Now, you want to talk about what is "real" and "unreal?" I suggest you go talk to casino workers who are dropping dead from heart and lung problems and cancers working in these smoke-filled casinos so your beloved Democrats can reap tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the mobsters who manage them and own the slot machines and table games getting rich off the poverty they are imposing on Native American Indian reservations.

Democrats; not Republicans, are responsible for these injustices.

Who is living in "La, la land?"

Hey... check out my blog and my "intellectualism:"

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Alan L. Maki... you favorite "intellectual"
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Friday, September 17, 2010

Unite for peace to win jobs and end poverty: March and rally October 2 in Washington D.C.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Unite for peace to win jobs and end poverty


Alan L. Maki


So far I haven't seen where there has been a focus on how Obama's wars kill jobs just like they kill people. To build a movement concerned with getting America back to work requires explaining all the reasons why the jobs are disappearing... I won't repeat what I have written elsewhere on this site... anyone interested can check out the discussion:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/OneNationWorkingTogether?v=wall&story_fbid=146419565395492

and here:

http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages#!/OneNationWorkingTogether?v=wall&story_fbid=159898937360567&ref=notif&notif_t=like

It makes no sense to me to rally behind supporting a President and a Democratic Party whose very policies are killing jobs.

Starbucks is now a "partner" in promoting this October 2 march and rally... Is it a goal to get everyone a job like people have at Starbucks where people get fired for union organizing to free themselves from poverty wages and poor working conditions?

Yesterday the big news was that there has been a sharp increase in poverty in this country... what is not being said is that most of the people living in poverty are EMPLOYED people with poverty wage jobs... like those people working at Starbucks--- people who get fired for trying to organize for real living wage jobs.

Any school child understands that if people are paid poverty wages these workers will be living in poverty.

The Democrats, through clever "Compacts," created over two-million jobs for people in the Indian Gaming Industry at loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos where poverty wages are enforced because none of these two-million workers have any rights under state or federal labor laws or the NLRA... and even the Employee Free Choice Act will not protect us.

Is the enforcement of affirmative action part of the "jobs" agenda agreed to by organizations endorsing this march and rally... I don't see the enforcement of Executive Order #11246 mentioned anywhere in any of your materials.

People have been trying to get these questions and concerns answered for months with NO responses from anyone; now the excuse for not answering these questions is "we have to go all out to mobilize we don't have time for these kinds of discussions--- interestingly enough, the same logic being shoved at us about the elections coming up on November 2.

Now this march is apparently turning out to be a mobilization to "get out the vote for Obama and the Democrats" rather than a march to serve notice on Obama and the Democrats, that in return for our votes, we expect: jobs at real living wages created from funds obtained by ending these dirty wars and taxing the rich--- not merely ending the tax-cuts on the rich... there is going to have to be a very hefty tax increase on the rich to pay to put America back to work.

I am not bringing forward any kind of "side issues" to the jobs issue central to the October 2 march and rally; these are issues very important to the jobs issue. It is these kinds of very issues involved in the jobs issue that make it possible for all these organizations to really unite.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Political Debate: A cornerstone of democracy... why is United States Congressman Keith Ellison afraid to debate his opponent Michael Cavlan

We received the following e-mail this morning from the Cavlan for U.S. Congress-5th District Campaign Committee.

This is not an endorsement of Michael Cavlan since neither of us, nor the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, support candidates for any political office from any political party unless they have made concrete written proposals and/or major public statements supporting the rights of casino workers.

The only candidates, to date, running in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan or Iowa meeting our criteria for endorsement are the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's nominated candidate for Governor, Mark Dayton, who has stated publicly at a press conference that he is in favor a state-owned, state-operated casino that would be smoke-free and provide employees jobs under union contract with the protection of all rights under state and federal labor laws and Greg Paquin and Nicole Beaulieu of the new Warriors for Justice Party running as write-in candidates for Minnesota Senate District 4 and Minnesota House District 4-A, respectively.

In front of 180 people and media representatives from television, radio and the press assembled at the American Indian Center at Bemidji State University for a Minnesota Governor Candidates forum on Native American Indian issues, Mark Dayton profusely apologized for his lack of attention to the plight of casino workers, and pledged, now, to do what is right in return for our support, for not taking up the plight of Minnesota's 40,000 casino workers while he was the Democratic United States Senator from Minnesota, and pledged that he would do everything possible to correct the injustices Minnesota's 40,000 casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry are being subjected to which includes being forced to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights protected like all other workers under state and federal labor laws.

We look forward to working with Governor Mark Dayton in resolving these issues. Mark Dayton is the one and only politician since Governor Rudy Perpich and the Warriors for Justice who have been willing to take a stand for justice on this issue.

We would look forward to working with Michael Cavlan as a United States Congressman were he to support a similar position as that taken by Mark Dayton.

However, who we support and endorse is not the issue here.

At issue is the very heart and substance of what democracy is all about because the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council would like the opportunity to publicly ask Keith Ellison and Michael Cavlan their positions in relation to the plight of casino workers and our struggle for justice.

We note that Keith Ellison takes very substantial campaign contributions from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its member casino managements while remaining silent as hundreds of his own constituents are employed under the most Draconian conditions at the huge and fabulously wealthy Mystic Lake Casino empire employing over 5,000 workers in its casino and related hospitality industry operations who are FORCED to sign statements, in complete violation of all state, federal and international laws and accepted rights and standards, stating that they understand that if they engage in union organizing to protect their rights and their livelihoods and in an effort to gain a voice at work they will immediately be terminated.

Keith Ellison has personally told us on at least three occasions while a state representative and twice while a member of the U.S. Congress when asked about this most deplorable situation regarding the plight of Minnesota's more than 40,000 casino workers: "I don't have time to talk to you right now; make an appointment to come talk to me in my office." Phone calls, letters and e-mails have all gone unanswered for such a request to talk about these problems with Keith Ellison in his office.

Quite frankly, we hope that Keith Ellison is defeated because he is completely dishonest and refuses to represent the best interests of his own constituents in favor of taking bribes from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association which is nothing but a front for mobsters and organized crime who own the slot machines and table games and operate the illegal prostitution, loan-sharking, gambling (sports wagering--- including in addition to professional sports, college and high school sports and horse racing) not to mention the drug trade.

This Indian Gaming Industry in Minnesota which takes tens of billions of dollars out of Native American Indian communities every single year is directly responsible for the continued shameful poverty and violence plaguing Native American Indians who are predominantly working class and for whom these poverty wage jobs without any rights assures nothing but a life of rapidly expanding and growing poverty while being forced to work in smoke-filled casinos assures illness from cancers and heart and lung diseases--- among the most painful of all human diseases and the most expensive to treat for which there are seldom cures.

Congressman Keith Ellison, like other Democrats and Republicans and the rest of Minnesota's politicians, including the Green Party and other "alternative" parties and their candidates, have the most shameful record when it comes to casino workers' rights.

We point out that Ralph Nader has also been shamefully silent concerning the plight of workers in the Indian Gaming Industry so his endorsement of Michael Cavlan does not impress us.

Again, our concern in having received this letter from the Cavlan Campaign organization is for the well-being of democracy which we know for a fact to be at an all-time low simply because casino workers have been denied their rights and a voice at work through the connivance and scheming of mainly Democratic Party politicians who have seen to it that the mobsters operating these casinos were provided the right to oppress and exploit under "color of law" through the creation of "Compacts" creating this most hideous, racist and anti-labor Indian Gaming Industry... there has never been, in the history of the world, such undemocratic and corrupt connivance and scheming between politicians and the managements of any other corporations and industries even though there have been some real doozies.

We look forward to hearing the views of Michael Cavlan and Keith Ellison on this particular issue during a public debate.

But, alas, we casino workers know from our attempts to simply convey our views to him, that Democrat Keith Ellison is nothing but a big-mouth con-man who is a chicken shit opportunist politician looking to fatten his own pocket-book.

We further understand what many people apparently do not, that if United States Congressman Keith Ellison refuses to accept his responsibility in standing up against the injustices of casino workers taking place right under his nose in his own community, he cannot be relied upon to seek an end to injustices anywhere on any issue--- not in Palestine and not here in Minnesota.

And we further note that in spite of all of Keith Ellison's fancy sounding rhetoric, if casino workers cannot count on him and rely on him to be a voice for these most basic and fundamental human rights and worker rights--- no working people can count on him for anything when they encounter problems.

Of course, we always welcome any and all politicians to change their views taking our injustices into consideration as Mark Dayton has done.

Mark Dayton found out what it was like to be encountered in public with our problems and concerns; so did the other candidates running for Governor--- they failed to address our concerns, and they lost; Mark Dayton went on to win the Primary against an opponent supported by the well-heeled elements in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's "Business Caucus" and the Summit Hill Club who had repeatedly spurned us--- Dayton, with our support, won; Margaret Anderson-Kelliher lost.

We are going to do everything we can do to make sure that Mark Dayton becomes Minnesota's next Governor.

We helped to support Mark Dayton from the minute he held a press conference on the steps of Minnesota's State Capitol announcing his support for a state-owned and operated casino in the Twin Cities, to as he said, "Compete with the Mystic Lake Casino."

Of course we applaud Mark Dayton's stand in support of single-payer universal health care based on the Canadian model--- we too have supported single-payer universal healthcare as a first step towards a national public healthcare system; his stand in condemnation of racism and in defense of affirmative action--- this has been our stand from the time we organized; his stand in support of teachers and all public employees who have become targets for other politicians seeking to use them as scapegoats for our many problems--- our Organizing Council and Organizing Committees across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa have repeatedly been involved in campaigns of solidarity with other workers, including teachers and public employees; and, of course, we admire and support Mark Dayton for having the courage to take up the struggle where Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson and Rudy Perpich left off with a call to "tax the hell out of the rich"--- we have called for peace and an end to these dirty wars and the redistribution of the wealth in this country that can only come from "tax the rich" governmental policies.

We believe it was because of the support Mark Dayton received from the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council and the Warriors for Justice in his very narrow Primary victory that Mark Dayton is now in the running to be Minnesota's next Governor and we don't intend to let Mark Dayton or any other politicians forget this.

In closing, we would just like to note that when workers are deprived of their voices and rights at work, they have no voices or rights in the communities or states or nations where they live. Because, as we have seen over and over again with workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry, as soon as they speak out in their communities on issues like the need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, they are fired... or, they are fired simply for writing "letters to the editor" which are not approved of by these casino managements and they are even fired for simply "blogging" their views.

Scores of casino workers have been fired for "blogging."

Like Keith Ellison's refusal to debate Michael Cavlan... these are all attacks on the basic and fundamental democratic principles upon which our Nation was founded... Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Crispus Attacks and Tom Paine and that great debater and emancipator, Abe Lincoln, would be rolling and thrashing in their graves if they knew what the democracy they struggled so hard to create has degenerated into.

We want to know, and voters have a right to know, where Michael Cavlan and Keith Ellison stand in relation to the plight of so many of the casino workers who reside in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District--- one of the most impoverished areas of Minnesota.

While we are impressed that Cynthia McKinney, who has taken a very bold, strong stand, both as a Democratic member of the United States Congress and as the Green Party's candidate for President, in support of the rights of casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry to organize unions to protect their rights and their livelihoods... we are unimpressed with Cavlan's endorsement from Ralph Nader who has refused, for many years, to articulate a position in support of casino workers.

Nor do we share Michael Cavlan's complete rejection of Democrats, seeing as how we have found one decent Democrat among those in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa in Mark Dayton... we are sure there are a few more, but a three-fingered man would have difficulty counting them all on his fingers.

Maggie Bird
President,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

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

Brenda Long
For the Minnesota Coordinating Council
of Casino Workers Organizing Committees
of the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
and resident of the 5th Congressional District




Subject: RE:  For Immediate Release - Nader Endorsement

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER ENDORSES MICHAEL CAVLAN FOR CONGRESS
NATION'S FOREMOST PROPONENT FOR POLITICAL CHANGE SAYS
 VOTERS SHOULD DEMAND THAT CAVLAN BE INCLUDED IN DEBATES WITH THE TWO CORPORATE OWNED CANDIDATES
For Immediate Release: September 8, 2010 
For Further Information: Dori Ullman (612) 414-9528
September 8, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS – The Michael Cavlan for Congress Campaign is extremely happy to announce that consumer advocate and three-time Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader has endorsed Independent Congressional Candidate Mike Cavlan for House of Representatives in Minnesota's 5th district.
Mr. Nader contacted the campaign writing:
“Michael Cavlan – so knowledgeable, so perceptive, so committed to a deliberative democracy – is the Congressional candidate to support inthe 5th district if you want “people” and “justice” to have a chance. Demand that Michael Cavlan participate in the debates with the other candidates. You'll see for yourself that he is truly of, by, and for the people.”
Cavlan said, "We are deeply honored to have Ralph Nader give us such a powerful endorsement”. Cavlan has a history of being a hard-hitting, no holds barred champion of working men and women and said, “We are committed to living up to Ralph Nader's endorsement, his words will be a source of inspiration to all of us working  to improve the conditions not only in the 5th District but in our entire nation”.
Cavlan has also been endorsed by peace activist Cindy Sheehan, former Presidential candidate Representative Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, former US Senate candidate Brother Ray Tricomo as well as the Kalpulli Turtle Island Organization which is committed to creating a more sustainable and equitable nation.
Cavlan repeated his call to the people of Minnesota's 5th District saying: "The Two Party System is the war machine. It's actions are accelerating the decline of our nation's greatness. It is time for officials in both parties  to end the lies. Help rather than hinder the American people in creating a new vision for our nation and our offspring."

The Cavlan Campaign is issuing a call to action. Call the offices of Congressman Keith Ellison. Demand that there be debates and that Michael Cavlan is included in them.

Keith Ellison's Office numbers are
Minneapolis (612)522-1212
Washington DC (202)225-4755


###

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My first Sunday morning sermon...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Sunday morning FaceBook "sermon:"





The extremely wealthy stay in the background as they financing and fueling campaigns of hate in the name of religion…

It always amazes me how much hate takes place in the name of religions all claiming to have a moral compass for humankind... one reason why I am adherent of modern scientific materialism.

Personally, I would rather see public day care centers, public schools and public health care centers going up instead of churches, synagogues or mosques... all of which we have plenty of in this country and most of these buildings just set idle most of the time except when people are being taught to be intolerant of one another or when the ministers, rabbis and imams aren't giving their blessings to go out and kill one another.

But, with this said; we all know there wouldn't have been a peep from anyone if a church or synagogue was being built instead of a mosque, don't we?

And the result has been a very typical good old American despicable display of plain old racist bigotry towards Muslims that is now tearing away at our social fabric feeding the two-bit half-assed fascist bastards in the Tea-bagger movement financed by the Koch family--- a movement that is riddled with John Birchers and KKK'ers who have been looking for a way to spread their message of hate... with a bunch of Republicans pathetically drooling, like a dog waiting to be tossed a bone, over the opportunity to clean up at the polls on November 2.

The only good thing about any of this "mosque controversy" is that most Americans are very good people who would never indulge in crimes of hate, and in response to this kind of bigotry there always arises a movement to combat these campaigns of hate... just as movements for peace arise to oppose unjust imperialist wars for occupation and movements arise in opposition to poverty.

Unfortunately, since these movements in opposition to racism and bigotry always come from the grassroots working class people, it sometimes takes a little longer to get organized and going because of lack of funds while these movements based upon hate are always funded by the extremely wealthy... maybe since these wealthy people have so much money to spare to finance racist bigotry and hate we should just consider relieving them of a substantial portion of their wealth by taxing the hell out of the rich to pay for things like public healthcare and public childcare and public education.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My response to Eliot Seide

Letter to the editor/opinion piece submitted for publication, exclusively, to the Duluth News tribune:


I read with interest the puff piece by Eliot Seide, “Union’s view: What does organized labor want;” Duluth News-Tribune September 6, 2010. {See below}

Seide presents a very important list of what labor wants; unfortunately this essay omitted more than a few important items at the top of the “wish list” of most working people.

First on this list is the desire for peace and an end to these dirty wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seide, in typical liberal tradition like Samuel Gompers, is content to let Democrats establish his agenda so he says nothing about the need to end these dirty wars.

I would like to share a left-wing working class socialist perspective with readers in the interest of dialog, discussion and debate.

The most fundamental and important question every union leader and all rank-and-file workers should be asking in relation to Labor Day: How is this war economy working for you?

How is the WAR ECONOMY working for YOU?

A vitally important question for Labor Day because we can’t pump trillions of dollars into wars and occupations while expecting to solve our own social/economic problems.

The United States is the wealthiest country in the world; the problem is a few people own and control most of this wealth.

This wealth created by working people is being squandered on fighting two wars, financing the Israeli killing machine and funding over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil protecting Wall Street's greedy interests--- instead, what we need is a public health care system of 800 primary care facilities serving as bases of support for over 30,000 neighborhood public health care centers spread out across the United States providing free health care for all Americans which would create around ten-million new, good-paying jobs with affirmative action enforced.

We wouldn't trust a private-for-profit free enterprise system to teach our children to read and write so why would we continue to rely on this failed private-for-profit health care system? Public education provides quality education for our children and a public health care system will provide us with a world-class health care system.

As for anyone concerned about the high cost of health care; VA, the Indian Health Service and the National Public Health Service have all proven we get the best health care at the best price through public health care.

Elected public officials should be able to comprehend the benefits from peace and a public health care system. Look at unemployment; workers in our country and our state need jobs, not wars. Solving the problems of working people is what creates real jobs. We should be discussing a national public child care program, too--- this would create millions more jobs. We should be looking at reducing the age of retirement not making people work until they drop dead; lowering the retirement age to 60 would put millions of people to work while in the final analysis the solution to solving any problems relating to Social Security is a full employment economy… everyone pays in--- can capitalism deliver full employment? If not, socialism can.

By ending these dirty wars, implementing Mark Dayton’s call to “Tax the Rich” and the reforms cited above we can get America back to work.

In order to turn this country around, we are going to have to rebuild the historic coalition of liberals, progressives and the left; the only coalition which has ever won real progress for working people.

How is the WAR ECONOMY working for YOU? Does it make you sick?

Let’s talk about the politics and economics of livelihood for real change on this Labor Day not the mere “wish list” Eliot Seide has provided; no doubt Eliot Seide still has high hopes for Barack Obama even though Obama is dashing the hopes of working people for jobs, health care and child care in wars.

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

40,000 Minnesotans go to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws.




58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net





http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/178155/group/News/


Published September 06 2010

Union’s view: What does organized labor want?

The answer to what organized labor wants is simple and timeless. We want what most workers want. We want a better life for ourselves and for our families. We want to unite and change the things that oppress most workers today. By: Eliot Seide, Duluth News Tribune

We want respect and dignity. We don’t want bad employers who kick their workers around during the recession, forcing them to work longer, harder and cheaper while executives line their pockets with gold.

We want secure jobs with good wages and benefits. We don’t want to continue working harder while earning less. We don’t want to be slaves to Wal-Mart and Wall Street. We don’t want St. Paul’s Ford plant to close and shove its workers into the scrap heap. We don’t want bankruptcy courts to permit employers to walk away from pension and health-care obligations to their workers.

We want safe working conditions. We don’t want workers killed or injured on the job. We don’t want more mining and environmental disasters when employers like Massey Energy and BP put profits and production ahead of worker safety and public health. And we certainly don’t want those industry officials put in charge of government oversight programs.

American workers have endured enough. They know they deserve better. Now the labor movement is evolving to meet the challenges of our age. Unions will reach out to all who need fair wages, real health care, a dignified retirement and respect on the job. As union membership swells, workers will build more bargaining and political power. Together, workers will turn their adversity into strength, as they have throughout history.
Bad bosses beware. That’s our union’s message this Labor Day. Wherever workers are screwed, they multiply and fight back. They unite for better solutions.

Tired workers, rejoice. Enjoy a well-deserved day of rest this Labor Day. Then join the labor movement to stop the erosion of workers’ rights.

Never forget that unions have made life better for all working Americans. Unions brought workers the weekend and the 40-hour week. We helped pass laws to end child labor and protect workers’ safety and health. We won battles for Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage. We fought for health care, sick pay and pensions that brought workers more security. We stood for equity in pay and treatment.

Workers rise or fall together. That’s why my union advocates for all workers — not only our members. We believe all labor should be rewarded with wages that can raise a family, health care if people get sick, and a retirement that’s dignified.

AFSCME Council 5 salutes Minnesota workers and our predecessors who won the rights we now enjoy. As Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor said, “Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected.” We continue the fight for prosperity and opportunity for all.

Eliot Seide is director of AFSCME Council 5, a union of 43,000 public and nonprofit workers in Minnesota.