Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Does "sovereignty" provide any nation with the right to ban union organizing?

A dialog from FaceBook:

  • Andrea Marple Wittwer
    That's a tough one. If a tribe is a democratic government, with treaty relations within the United States...can the Labor Unions meddle with Native American employee practices without involving the Federal Gov? It is like unionizing a cooperative where everyone has equal voting rights but union members can set their own wage and labor standards by overrunning the management and occupying the Board. If people would take responsibility and ownership of their own governance, you wouldn't need union bosses to negociate.
  • Andrea; do you know of any country in the world where working people have no rights and this is considered acceptable? How is it you consider workers struggling to protect their rights as "meddling?" Only the mobster dominated National Indian Gaming Association pushes this thoroughly reactionary idea that "sovereignty" provided tribal governments the "right" to ban union organizing. In fact, for a nation--- any nation--- to be considered "sovereign," workers would have to have the right to organize to protect their rights and livelihoods. Casino workers have the right to be protected by the same rights all other workers enjoy under state and federal labor laws.

    Why is it so "tough" for you to understand that it is a fundamental human right for working people to organize into labor unions for their own protection?

    What does "sovereignty" or any form of government have to do with this most basic and fundamental human right--- the right of working people to organize into to unions to defend and protect their rights? No government has the right to take away this most basic and fundamental human right.

    Over two-million workers across the country are now employed at poverty wages and without any rights in the loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos of this hideous Indian Gaming Industry intentionally created to deprive working people of their rights.

    I challenge you to show me anything justifying these most gross violations of human rights.

    In fact, there are no "sovereign" Indian Nations--- what there are is Indian Reservations where people are routinely victimized on a daily basis by racism as a matter of United States government policy and the "Compacts" creating and enabling this hideous Indian Gaming Industry are one more example of genocide.

    Not one single Indian Nation owns one single slot machine or table game in this country; these slot machines and table games are all owned by a bunch of rich white mobsters whose wealth is created on the backs of casino workers who are forced to work in these unsafe and unhealthy working environments.

    The "Compacts" have turned already intentionally impoverished Indian Nations (Indian Reservations) into nothing but pools of cheap labor for these more than 350 casino operations now comprising this Indian Gaming Industry.

    Every school child understands the result of paying people poverty wages--- poverty.

    Every thinking person understands that when you force human beings to work in smoke-filled casinos those people are going to end up being very sick people dying agonizing deaths from cancers, heart and lung diseases not to mention the complications working in these smoke-filled casinos causes for people with diabetes.

    Casino workers are entitled to real living wages along with safe and healthy working environments.

    The Indian Gaming Associations, including the National Indian Gaming Association, are nothing but slick fronts for organized crime.

    Largely because workers in these casinos have no rights the highly profitable "secondary" businesses are allowed to operate. Everything from drug dealing to prostitution and loan-sharking.

    Not to mention that the bribes (campaign contributions) paid to politicians by these casino managements, tribal councils and the Indian Gaming Associations has now warped our entire political process and perverted democracy.

    Here is an article about campaign contributions from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association. Do you really think that if Native Americans had any control they would be contributing to the campaign coffers of Republican politicians who oppose all measures aimed at ending poverty?


    Also, I would like to know how tribal officials like Mike Wiggins have the nerve to talk as if they are environmentalists concerned about "air quality" from the mining industry while he forces casino workers to work in a smoke-filled casino?

    The Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council of which I am the Director of Organizing and our local Organizing Committees are not "meddling" in the affairs of Indian Nations--- we are fighting to protect our rights, our livelihoods and our health.

    I would remind people who think like you, Andrea, that workers rights are human rights and no government on earth has the right to tell working people they don't have the right to organize unions to protect and defend their health, rights and their livelihoods.

    I would also remind you, Andrea, that workers who have no rights or voice in their places of employment have no rights in the communities where they live--- you might have to think about this a little bit to understand what I mean; but, the fact remains, workers who have no rights at work have no rights in the communities where they live.

    Do you agree with me that "workers rights are human rights?" If so, aren't human rights universal? Doesn't "universal" imply there are no limitations?

    I would suggest to you that one of the main reasons why the Democrats have been so weak on social and economic justice issues is because they created these "Compacts" giving birth to the Indian Gaming Industry. Come on, really; can you expect the perpetrators of such injustice to be concerned about injustices anywhere?
    Indian tribes have been a powerful force in Minnesota politics for nearly two de...See More

Native Americans left out of economic recovery, as always

Albert Bender, a columnist for News From Indian Country, writing in the Communist Party's publication--- The People's World, wrote about Native American unemployment in Indian Country and Obama. I wonder why so few publications carried this article?


Native Americans left out of economic recovery, as always

June 11 2012
Up until the past few weeks, there had been a lot of hoopla about a blossoming economic recovery. Job creation for the early part of the year had been averaging 200,000 a month. (Keep in mind, though, that responsible economists maintain that 345,000 jobs per month are needed for at least two years to get back to even five percent unemployment - and the latest numbers for May show only 69,000 jobs created.)

Indian America, looking at the historical record, would have found little reason to rejoice at the so-called "good economic news." Why? Because historically, economic recovery, as a national news pundit recently said, "is growth for white America, but there will still be three times the unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics."

But that statistic can look good, considering that the Native American unemployment rate would be 10x greater than the white jobless rate. Indeed, as is well known in Native circles, on reservations across the nation the unemployment for Native Americans routinely ranges from 80-90 percent - and this has been the economic situation for generations. For urban Native Americans, the jobless rate averages around 48 percent. In general, Indian Country is in a permanent depression even when the national economy is on the upswing.

But once again it seems the economy was just having another false start, as in the last couple of years, and now appears at the edge of falling off the economic cliff. I cannot but take wry satisfaction in a failing recovery, a recovery that bypasses Native American misery.

The above quoted statistics of Native unemployment are years old because reservations in particular and urban Native Americans in general, incredibly, have been purposely excluded from government employment data since 2005. To cite a not atypical example, South Dakota has nine reservations, with unemployment ranging from a "low" of 12 percent on one smaller reservation to 89 percent on the largest reservation. These figures were last compiled in 2005. South Dakota's overall unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, exclusive of reservations.

Native American joblessness is so high, it is off the charts. It is so staggering and is not compiled because to do so would be an additional stunning moral indictment of U.S. government treatment of Native Americans.

The last absurd excuse given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for not collecting American Indian employment data was that there was no money in the government budget for such compilation.

This government attitude is highlighted by the fact that as far back as 1990, in statistical tables from the U.S. Bureau of Census that contained information on American Indians, African Americans, Asian Americans and others, the category "American Indian unemployed" contained, instead of numbers, the letters MD=Missing Data. No other population had such a classification. Again, this was a shocking, clumsy attempt to hide astronomical unemployment.

The position of the Obama administration to combat joblessness in American Indian communities and others of color is that an economic recovery will uplift all the jobless; a strong, robust economy will translate into jobs for all. This simply will not work due to the institutional racism endemic in American society. The very disturbing question is who always gets the lion's share of the jobs even when the economy is on the upswing? Whites have always received a disproportionate share of jobs.

To cite an example of who does not get the jobs: In early March, the mainstream media was touting apparent job gains, but noted that Latinos were being bypassed. The national jobless rate dropped to about 8.1 percent, but the Latino unemployment rate remained at 10.6 percent. The white jobless rate dropped to 7.9 percent. Incredibly, the media posed the question: Why the disparity? - and remarked that economists and labor experts also weren't sure.

More absurdity: the 'experts' subsequently stated they simply didn't know. Whites have always gotten the lion's share of employment. Without massive employment programs for communities of color, this will continue. After all, white Americans have for over 200 years had their own special "jobs programs" - racism. Communities of color, in particular those of Native Americans, need affirmative action jobs programs; otherwise, "economic recovery" will do little to remedy Native American joblessness.