Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unions and allies to GOP: Stop holding Americans hostage! » peoplesworld

Unions and allies to GOP: Stop holding Americans hostage! » peoplesworld

Response to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's Summit Invitation Rejection

January 30, 2013

The following statement is by Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, speaking on behalf of the We Are One Illinois union coalition, in response to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's rejection of the coalition's summit invitation:

We Are One Illinois regrets that Speaker Madigan has indicated he will not participate in the Pension Summit proposed by our union coalition. Our summit is a demonstration of good faith and commitment to seeking to solve the state’s pension funding problem in a way that is fair and constitutional.

Our coalition has already put forward a plan that addresses the intertwined problems of inadequate revenues and underfunded pensions. It would end the practice of politicians shorting actuarially required payments to the retirement funds; ease state budget pressures by closing wasteful tax loopholes, especially for big corporations; and require active public employees to pay more toward the pensions they earn and rely on.

Our plan would provide at least $2.35 billion a year to stabilize the retirement funds, while preventing cuts to retirees who worked hard and played by the rules.

The We Are One Illinois plan has the potential to be a starting point for participatory discussions around a pension-funding solution. Crucially, we believe that pension legislation supported by all parties is the only way to meet constitutional muster and avert costly and time-consuming court battles.

In downgrading Illinois credit last week, Standard and Poor’s warned that unconstitutional pension cuts “risk … legal challenges” that could take “several years” to resolve, delaying “improved funded ratios and budget relief.” Illinois doesn’t have years to waste. The We Are One Illinois coalition of unions remains ready to work constructively on this problem right now.

We have pointed out that the public employees and retirees represented by our unions are helpers and problem-solvers by trade—the teachers, the caregivers, the protectors and those who respond in emergencies. They are committed to being a part of the solution to the pension problem as well, but they can’t do it alone.

We were particularly surprised and disappointed that the Speaker singled out state employees from our coalition—which includes teachers, police, fire fighters, nurses, caregivers and many others—and decried their efforts to maintain decent wages and affordable health care. In terms of comparison to other states, it is true that Illinois state employees are fairly paid—just as are other public employees , and indeed unionized  private sector workers  in our state. Illinois is a relatively high-wage state and all of our citizens are the better for it. Further, when comparing benefits to private-sector workers, it must be noted that nearly 80 percent of Illinois public employees—including teachers, police, fire fighters and university employees—are not eligible for Social Security. Finally, every serious, academic study has shown that public employees are paid less in wages and earn less in total compensation than comparable private-sector workers with similar jobs and educational attainment.

On the pension issue, the Speaker is correct to recall a series of discussions involving the union coalition, legislative leaders and the governor nearly one year ago. We were disappointed when those discussions were abruptly halted by the elected officials last spring, and despite our invitations throughout the ensuing months, never resumed. Our Feb. 11 Pension Summit is an opportunity to get back to work.

The people of Illinois want and deserve leaders who work together to solve problems. The public employees and retirees who serve the people need and depend on the modest pensions they earn and pay into from every check. A pension-funding solution that is constitutional, sustainable and fair requires openness and dialogue from all parties."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Obama speech heralds new era » peoplesworld

Obama speech heralds new era » peoplesworld


 By Frank Chapman
National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

We have organized, participated in and will celebrate at this Conference two major victories won this past year: the release and vindication of our national co-chairperson Rev. Ben Chavis and the Wilmington Ten and George Merritt, member of our national board. While we celebrate these victories we are keenly aware of the continued attempts to stifle dissent, to silence every activist in the movements for equality, peace, freedom and solidarity with other peoples. Such dangers are represented by our government's continued prosecution of courageous peace activist David Truong

These threats are also confronted daily by our numerous organizational efforts: the fight for Johnny Imani Harris' release from death row, only miles from Birmingham; the struggle to free Native American activist Leonard Peltier; stopping the mass murder vis-a-vis the death penalty planned for the Pontiac brothers; abolishing the behavior control unit and the brutal persecution of prisoners at Marion, Illinois; and at a thousand other hell-holes from Santa Fe to Leavenworth to MacAlister, Soledad and Parchman. Our Conference will address this continuing barbarism and seek to redress it."

 The above statement was taken from the Call for our Sixth National Conference of The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression held in Birmingham, Alabama in 1981.

The Wilmington Ten were Rev. Ben Chavis, nine young men who were still in high school and a white woman who were convicted in 1971 of  arson and conspiracy. The NAARPR took the case of the Wilmington Ten up at its founding convention and subsequently launched a national and international campaign making it a cause célèbre.

The 1970s, coming in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, was the beginning of what became known as the backlash against gains of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The government’s response to the ghetto uprisings (called race riots) that occurred on the eve of King’s assassination and afterwards was punitive, violent and repressive.

In 1969, just a year after the murder of Dr. King and the riots, there was an attempt to integrate the high schools of Wilmington, N.C. The city used this attempted integration as a pretext for closing Williston High School, the pride of the African American community. Black teachers and coaches were laid off and students transferred. The school administrators refused to meet with parents and students. There were no preparations for these abrupt changes. Tensions sprouted up giving rise to clashes between white and black students. There followed arrests and expulsions.

In an effort to exploit these racial tensions the KKK and other white supremacists began patrolling the streets in an attempt to intimidate and terrorize African Americans. Consequently street violence broke out between the Klan and African American men. Also students decided to boycott the high schools. This occurred in January, 1971.

In Feb., 1971 the United Church of Christ sent Rev. Ben Chavis, director of their Commission for Racial Justice, to Wilmington, N.C. to ease tensions and work with students and the community for a peaceful and just solution.

Rev. Ben Chavis advocated non-violence in the manner of the late Dr. King; and upon arriving he immediately proceeded to organize the students and the community. There were regular meetings with discussions on the history of African American freedom struggles and the need to organize a boycott.

Within a week (on Feb. 7, 1971) Mike’s Grocery, a white owned business, was fire-bombed and the responding firefighters claimed they were shot at by snipers. Rev. Chavis and the students were peacefully assembled at the Church. A riot broke out in the community, lasting ‘til the next day and claiming the lives of two people.

On Feb. 8, 1971 the Governor Robert Scott called out the National Guard. They forced their way into the Church, alleging that they found ammunition.

At the end of the day there were two deaths, six injuries and $500,000 in property damages. Rev. Ben Chavis, eight young African American men, who were high school students, and a white woman who was an anti-poverty worker, were arrested and charged with arson. Based on the false testimony of two black men, the Wilmington Ten were tried, convicted and sentenced to a total of 282 years.   One witness said he was given a mini bike in exchange for his testimony. The other witness had a history of mental illness.
Name                                       Age                             Sentence
Rev. Ben Chavis                     24                                34 years
Connie Tindall                        21                                31 years
James “Bun” McKay              19                                29 years
Wayne More                           19                                29 years
Melvin “Chili” Patrick            19                                29 years
Reginald Epps                         18                                28 years
Jerry Jacobs                             19                                29 years
Name                                       Age                             Sentence
Willie Earl Vereen                   18                                29 years
William “Joe” Wright              19                                29 years
Ann Shepard                           36                                15 years

The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression mobilized tens of thousands in protest through nationwide rallies and demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Oakland, Louisville, St. Louis, Newark, Pittsburg, and throughout the state of North Carolina culminating in a national mass demonstration in Raleigh, N.C. in 1976.

From 1977-80 we collected tens of thousands of signatures on petitions to Free the Wilmington Ten directed to Governor James B. Hunt. These petitions were signed by people in the United States and throughout the world. We were supported by trade union organizations, parliamentarians, supreme courts justices, writers, artists, students, people from all walks of life throughout Europe, India, China, Ethiopia, Angola, Cuba, Canada and South Africa.

In 1978 the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the National Conference of Black Lawyers filed a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Commission charging the U.S. Government with Human Rights violations in the cases of the Wilmington Ten, Leonard Peltier, Johnny Imani Harris, Geronimo Pratt and many other political prisoners.

When President Jimmy Carter visited the Soviet Union in 1978 he was reminded by Soviet leaders of the human rights violations in the Wilmington Ten case.

In 1980, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court, overturned the convictions, as it determined that (1) the prosecutor failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, in violation of the defendants' due process rights [the Brady rule]; and (2) the trial judge erred by limiting the cross-examination of key prosecution witnesses about special treatment the witnesses received in connection with their testimony, in violation of the defendants' 6th Amendment right to confront the witnesses against them. Chavis v. State of North Carolina, 637 F.2d 213 (4th Cir. 1980).

We adopted the slogan A Luta Continua from our sisters and brothers who led the revolution in Angola against the then Portuguese colonial government. Today more than ever we need to invoke this slogan and inscribe it on our banners as we did in 1973.

The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was founded in the city of Chicago 39 years ago. Our formation came in the wake of the movement to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners and was truly a watershed moment in the history of the democratic struggles of the masses of our people for labor rights, human rights and peace. We also felt an urgent need to respond to the planned destruction of our movement by the FBI and CIA through their counter intelligence program known a COINTELPRO.  We came about as a result of the particular need of our movement to defend itself against the racist and political repression used by the local, state and federal governments to stymie and destroy us. We came together in the light of our deep and abiding concern for the democratic rights and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the American people. We came together because we realized that government at the local, state and federal level was being used to contain and eliminate any and everyone challenging the status quo. Our mission was clearly to defend and extend the democratic rights of the people.

The recent pardon of the Wilmington Ten by the outgoing Governor of North Carolina is a living testament to the fact that mass, organized struggles can be victorious in the fight against racist and political repression. The NAACP played a decisive and heroic role in waging a successful campaign for the pardon of the Wilmington Ten. They delivered the final blow for justice in this case.

Today as we approach our fortieth anniversary our movement faces new dangers and historically unprecedented attacks against democracy. That is why the struggle must continue. Yesterday it was the Wilmington Ten, today its Mumia abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Howard Morgan, victim of attempted murder by Chicago Police (shot 28 times), serving 40 years in prison falsely convicted ,  the torture victims: William Atkins, Terrance Brooks, Benson Carter, Sherone Griffin, Leonard Hinton, Delandis Adams, Johnnie Plummer, Carlos Santos, Gerald Reed, Rayshawn Hudgins , and countless others who are in prison due to racist frame-ups and wrongful convictions. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama goes head-to-head with gun lobby » peoplesworld

Obama goes head-to-head with gun lobby » peoplesworld

SEIU Local 1 calls for City to void O’Hare cleaning contract that cost hundreds of Chicago workers their jobs

United Maintenance violated terms of city contract, hiding investors…

From SEIU Local 1:

Chicago—SEIU Local 1 called on Mayor Emanuel to immediately terminate the O’Hare cleaning contract with United Maintenance and rebid it. Today’s report from the Chicago Sun-Times makes it clear that United Maintenance violated city requirements by withholding critical information about his company during the contract bid process.

Richard Simon sold 50 percent of his company in December 2011. Over the course of the entire next year he neglected to inform the city of the change in ownership, as required by law, until after he was assured he was awarded the $100 million contract.

“This is a serious deception and a violation of the city’s contract requirements that should result in a termination of the contract with United Maintenance,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “We believe this incident is serious enough to warrant a criminal investigation and we call on both City Inspector General Ferguson and Cook County State’s Attorney Alvarez to immediately launch an investigation into this matter.”
United Maintenance has violated the city’s terms for contractors by neglecting to disclose its ownership until after the acquiring the lucrative city contract. This is a company with reported ties to organized crime that has cut wages at O’Hare and cost hundreds of Chicago workers their jobs—sending hundreds more to the unemployment lines and forcing more families onto public assistance.
SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the central United States, including janitors, security officers and residential doormen. Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Help pass the marriage equality bill that is before the Illinois General Assembly!

There are multiple things you can do to help!

From the Civil Rights Agenda:

1. Make sure to sign our ONLINE marriage equality petition:

2. Have you called, written or visited your State Senator and Representative? If not, do it NOW! You can find your legislators at Contact them and tell them to vote 'YES' on the Marriage Equality Bill!!

3. Join The Civil Rights Agenda in Springfield to lobby your legislators on marriage equality. We will be working to lobby the Illinois Senate on Wednesday, January 2 through Friday, January 4 (or until the bill passes). Join us to lobby the Illinois House of Representatives beginning Sunday, January 6 through, Tuesday, January 8 (or until the bill passes). If you want to join, email with the date and time you plan to be in Springfield and we will coordinate your visit with you.

4. Join Sheila Simon, "Modern Family" star Jessie Tyler Ferguson, and The Civil Rights Agenda and other marriage equality advocates for a lobby day on Thursday, January 3.
EVENT: Bow Tie Lobby Day
TIME: 10:30 a.m.
PLACE: Rotunda, State Capitol, Springfield

5. Join The Civil Rights Agenda is looking for volunteers in their main office located at 2129 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647. If you are willing to volunteer,to phone bank for marriage equality which will include calling voters to educate them on the Marriage Equality bill and asking them to contact their legislators.
If you are able to donate your time, our phone bank hours are as follows:
Thursday, January 3rd - 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Friday, January 4th - 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Saturday, January 5th - 1 PM to 4 PM
Facebook event here: