Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rally for health care reform - Aug. 4

Major Rally

Support Health Care Reform Bill -
"The Time is Now"

When: August 4, 4:30 pm - 6 pm
Where: Federal Plaza (Adams and Dearborn, Chicago)
(CTA Stops: Monroe Blue Line, Monroe Red Line)

Who: US Representative Jan Schakowsky and others to be announced

August is our LAST chance to make sure Congress pases real health care reform.
Let's make sure President Obama's plan becomes law!

-A strong public health insurance option
-Quality and affordable health care for all
-Equal access to quality care

For more information, call: 312-427-2114 ext. 206 (Jessica) or ext. 208 (John). Visit:

Sponsors: Illinois Main Street Alliance, Citizen Action Illinois, Health Care for America NOW! (HCAN)

Chicago city council postpones action on new Wal-Mart stores

By John Bachtell
Chicago – For the moment, the Wal-Mart monster has been held at bay. Standing up to immense pressure by the retail giant to open new stores in Chicago, the City Council postponed a decision allowing construction on the city’s south side.

A broad labor-community coalition had rallied opposition to Wal-Mart’s request and threatened a repeat of the fight around the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance that shook this city in 2006. Opponents warned of a race to the bottom in wages and benefits and increased union busting if Wal-Mart’s effort to open more stores went unregulated.

On July 28 the Council’s rules committee deferred action on an ordinance submitted by Alderman Howard Brookins to strip the City’s Planning Commissioner of oversight powers over certain development projects – including the ability to move forward on plans to build a second Wal-Mart in the city’s Chatham neighborhood. The committee sent the matter to the Finance Committee, chaired by Alderman Ed Burke, known as a friend of labor.

"Chicago is a strong union town,” stated Burke. “If every other organization can agree to card check neutrality, why can't Wal-Mart? They can build 14 stores here. All they have to do is make a commitment to the rights of working men and women in Chicago to organize.

“If Wal-Mart can come in to Chicago and operate on a non-union basis, then how can Jewel and Dominicks (other major food retailers) and the other food chains continue to have union men and women?" asked Burke.

The labor-community coalition had been calling on the City Council to resist Wal-Mart’s demands and protect residents against the unscrupulous business practices of the mega-corporation until some labor standards are established.

“This vote demonstrates the serious concerns by city council members about Wal-Mart’s poor labor practices which are well documented,” said Elizabeth Drea, Director of Communications for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, which led the fight.

“Alderman Burke’s statement sends a strong message to Wal-Mart. There needs to be some accountability of giant retailers. Chicago remains in the forefront of efforts to set labor standards. What happened elsewhere with Wal-Mart won’t happen here,” she said.

As a result of its action the city council postponed any decision about Wal-Mart until after the International Olympic Committee decides in October if Chicago will be host city for the 2016 Olympic games. Olympic backers, business and finance leaders fear public rifts between the Daley administration and labor will harm the chances of being awarded the games. Daley was silent on the council action.

As part of the campaign of intense pressure, Wal-Mart commissioned its own “poll” that showed 75% of Chicagoans supported Wal-mart stores in the city. The “poll” results were a top story in the local corporate mass media on the eve of the council action.

Wal-Mart had also cleverly tried to take advantage of the desperation for jobs in the worst economic crisis since the “Great Depression” and exploited other real problems including an insufficient representation of African Americans in the trades and the existence of “food deserts” in the African American community.

Ald. Brookins and Wal-Mart supporters argued that confronted by mass joblessness in Chicago’s African American community, “any job is better than no job.” Wal-Mart worked through a south side church to mobilize buses of unemployed African American youth to the City Council meeting to support Wal-Mart’s demand.

“This is absolutely the wrong message,” said Elce Redmond, organizer for the South Austin Community Coalition and a leader of Chicago Jobs With Justice. “Rents are going up, mortgages are going up, utilities are going up and yet wages are going down. Even with a job at Wal-Mart how can a person afford to pay anything?”

“The goal of a job is to uplift people from poverty. Will you accept anything this multi-national corporation gives you? What builds a community is when people can pay their rents. Good wages build community,” said Redmond.

Wal-Mart also concealed other negative impacts of its business practice on the community including ruining small businesses and destroying jobs. “If every small business in my community is gone at the end of three years, I’m going to get the blame because of this vote they want me to take for Wal-Mart,” said Alderman Freddrenna Lyle, a leader of the 2006 Big Box Living Wage Ordinance.

Redmond, local progressive economists and Chicago Jobs with Justice along with other unions and community groups believe the best way to create living wage jobs is by demanding a federally funded massive jobs creation program. They are planning a September 24 action called “Real Recovery for Working People: Jobs, Housing and Health Care”. The action takes place on the one-year anniversary of the Federal Bailout, which has so far only helped Wall Street begin to recover its profits.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Communist Party interviewed on Houston radio

John Bachtell (District Organizer, Illinois district, CPUSA) spoke on KPFT in Houston, TX, July 28 about the current situation on Health Care reform as well as his recent trip to Cuba. To hear the broadcast, go to . Select Open Journal for July 28 at 9am. You will need to fast forward to the second half of the broadcast to hear his remarks. He is introduced and interviewed by Ernesto Aguilar.

This is believed to be the first time a CPUSA spokesperson has been on a Houston radio station since Angela Davis in 1984.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ADAPT takes action to city hall to win Community Choice

From Chicago ADAPT and Diana D.

Tuesday, July 21 a group of 30 Chicago ADAPT-ers marched into Mayor Daley’s office and got their demands met, making the action extremely successful. Chicago was one of 25 cities putting pressure across the country on the Democratic National Committee in DC. What did ADAPT demand?

* City Hall to fax a letter urging the DNC to support the Community Choice Act in any health care reform purposed by the Obama administration
* A phone call to be made to Valerie Jarrett, the Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison, to urge her to help develop a plan to pass the Community Choice Act, and
* A meeting to be set up with Chicago ADAPT and Mayor Daley to discuss an implantation plan for the Community Choice Act in Illinois

How did this happen?


Last week, a small group of active citizens got together at Access Living to talk about targets. It was known that several cities throughout the country were going to be taking action to push the Community Choice Act in the Democratic National Committee and to protest the institutional bias that has been so pervasive in health care policy. We talked about how many people Chicago could potentially gather, and then who or where we should target our efforts to make the most impact. Mayor Daley was the most strategic target since he is a powerful player in the Democratic Party. We also knew that his office is in City Hall, which has an open door policy, so getting people in wouldn’t be a huge issue. Kept mostly a secret, word was spread to members of ADAPT to get them committed to going.

The Day Of

11:00am- people start trickling in at the Thompson Center food court, socializing, eating

11:30am- security is getting worried as to why there are so many people in wheelchairs congregating in the food court. Smiles and reassurance are given and he leaves us alone.

12:00pm- Amber is in contact with National ADAPT, waiting for them to be in position so that all

24 other cities can begin to march in solidarity to their respective targets

12:20pm- March begins to City Hall

12:30pm- Get into City Hall, organize people in small groups to get up the elevators to the 5th floor where Daley’s office is

12:40pm- first two groups make it into office before the security tries to kick us out. Our people explain that there is plenty of room, that they are citizens therefore it is their office, too and they don’t need to leave. Security is baffled, appears frantic and is clearly annoyed.

12:45pm- the rest of the group has come but is being blocked from entrance into the office by security. They wait directly outside. Amber positions herself right at the doorway to act as liaison between the people inside and outside of the office and to keep everyone posted of the national action happening simultaneously.

12:46pm- Lance, the Mayor’s press secretary comes out to see what is going on and how he can ‘help us.’ He tries to get us to leave the office, but sees we are resistant to that idea.

12:50pm- Monica and Larry are appointed as the spokespeople. All security and office requests and questions will be made through these two people.

1:00pm- After a few tries, Lance figured out that he needed to speak directly to Monica and Larry. From them, he is handed our list of demands. Lance says that he will try to help us, but he needs 24 hours to do so. Monica regrets to inform him that we’re not leaving until the demands are met.

1:15pm- A ‘tentative’ meeting the following Wednesday is set up with ADAPT and Mayor Daley. No time is given, and so Monica checks with the group and consensus is given that Wednesday is too late, that we need a meeting with Mayor Daley and it needs to happen soon.

1:30pm- After several failed attempts to make us go away, Lance becomes flustered and agrees to fax the letter we have drafted to the DNC. His condition is that if he faxes the letter, we will move out of the office and give him 24 hours to meet our other demands.

1:45pm- More staff people, including Karen Tamley, the Director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities come out to try and talk to us to see if they can help

2:00pm- Lance brings us the fax confirmation sheet! Demand one is met! GO ADAPT! At this point, we explain to Lance that we need him to get Daley to Call Jarrett in DC. This does not make Lance happy. He tries to defend himself, saying that asking for 24 hours is reasonable and that he can’t possibly get a phone call in to the DNC. ADAPT doesn’t buy that, as a phone call only takes a few minutes. We stay.

2:15pm- people start getting hungry. Luckily Larry brought cookies to pass out. The community choice song is pleasantly being sung from the people outside of the office

2:30pm- In need of an energy boost, ADAPT starts chanting in the office: “OUR HOMES! NOT NURSING HOMES!” At this point, Lance comes out and said that he would try to get someone to call the DNC. We are reminded that this is a place of business, and we need to respect that. We rebut that we are here for business. We are the business!

3:00pm- Mayor Daley isn’t answering any of the attempts to get into contact with him. Lance calls the DNC personally on behalf of the office. Demand 2 is met!

3:30pm- ADAPT-ers are hanging in there, and the office realizes we won’t leave until we get our meeting solidified. We are given the meeting date in more concreteness for the following Wednesday. Demand 3 met!

All in all, in just a few hours we got City Hall to fax our demands to the Democratic National Committee, we got a personal phone call from Mayor Daley’s press secretary directly to Valerie Jarrett and we have a follow-up meeting set with the Mayor to continue pushing for the Community Choice Act.

While bureaucracy and status quo would have had us sitting idly at our desks, making phone calls and being given the run-around in pushing an issue that is supported by the Mayor, this protest and action lead to direct results. This is what can happen in a few hours of solidarity. We got the office to drop what they were doing, pay attention to our voices and take action to help us in health care reform that helps to FREE OUR PEOPLE.

California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections demands return of Montell Johnson to California to die in prison.

For information contact: Ted Pearson, 312-927-2689

The California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections has notified attorneys for Montell Johnson that the State of California is demanding that Johnson be sent back to California to die in prison. Brenda Lewis, calling on behalf of the CDRC, called the attorneys Monday. Ms. Lewis number is 916-327-3957.

Attorneys for Montell Johnson filed an emergency motion July 16 for a temporary restraining order to prevent Johnson's transfer to a prison in California. Johnson suffers from multiple sclerosis. He is completely paralyzed from the waist down and on his left side as a result of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, and is completely bedridden.

Johnson, through his attorneys, submitted an appeal for executive clemency to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2008. That appeal has gone unacknowledged.

The hearing on the emergency motion for a Temporary Restrininig Order blocking the transfer of Montell Johnson to a California prison will be before U. S. District Court Judge Robert M. Dow in Courtroom 1919 in the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn in Chicago, at 9:15 AM Thursday, August 6, 2009.

The Motion was in response Johnson's attorneys being informed by James Doran, on behalf of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), that transfer to the California prison system was going to take place shortly. Doran is a general law counsel in the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The motion was filed by Attorneys Harold C. Hirshman and Camille E. Bennett of the firm Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal.

Johnson cannot eat or drink and cannot perform his bodily functions. He is fed through a tube in his stomach and evacuates through other tubes in his abdomen. He cannot talk. Johnson almost died in November 2007 from severe blood infections resulting from stage 4 bed sores caused by the failure of the IDOC to care for him properly. U. S. District Judge Suzanne Conlon at that time ordered that Johnson remain hospitalized until his condition stabilized. 10 months later Jonson was released from the hospital and was sent to Sheridan Correctional Center, where he is receiving special care under a plan approved by Judge Dow, who took over the case from Judge Conlon. His mother, Gloria Johnson-Ester, spends 8 hours a day with him at Sheridan, five days a week, where she can monitor his care.

Ironically, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich commuted Johnson's sentence to time served. But instead of releasing him the IDOC continued to hold him because of a 1998 agreement between former Illinois and California Govs. Jim Edgar and Pete Wilson. Edgar and Wilson agreed that Johnson could be extradited for a capital trial in Illinois only on the condition that if he were not executed, he would be returned to California.

Johnson was convicted of the murder of 1994 murder of Dorianne Warnsley in downstate Macon County and sentenced to death. His conviction was based on the testimony of the man who admitted to having actually committed the murder but who testified that Johnson had instructed him to do it. Terry Hoyt, Warnsley's mother, has insisted since the beginning that she is sure Johnson was not guilty.

In part on that basis Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted Johnson's death sentence to 40 years. By that time, however, Johnson had been diagnosed with MS and was already rapidly becoming paralyzed.

Hirshman sought information regarding provisions in California for continuing medical care for Johnson from Doran, and was told he had no information. Both Illinois and California are in severe budget crises. The California Prison Health System is under receivership for consistently failing to provide adequate health care.

"There is no evidence that California can take care of Mr. Johnson, or can even afford the care that is required; or is prepared to implement the medical treatment protocol presented" to the Federal Court last August, the motion notes. "The Illinois prison system no longer even has a chief medical officer who can evaluate what California has planned for Mr. Johnson, if anything." Judge Richard Posner, Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit, long ago warned that there is liability for prison officials who throw prisoners into a snake pit. "California's prison system, especially its medical branch, is just such a snake pit today."

The motion states, "There is no legal justification for the Department refusing to implement the Governor's decision [to release Johnson]. Mr. Johnson is being held without due process of law. Nor is there authority for the Department to spend $25,000 on the medivac plane necessary to take Mr. Johnson to California."

Mrs. Johnson-Ester is prepared to care for Mr. Johnson at her home.

Attorneys Hirshman and Bennett may be reached through at their office, 312-876-8000. Copies of the motion filed Thursday may be obtained from them or by contacting Ted Pearson,

Customers demand Trader Joe's practice seafood sustainability

From Greenpeace:

After coming in as one of the last on Greenpeace's Seafood Sustainability Scorecard, Trader Joe's finds its customers gathering to petition for change

Chicago– Following the release of Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability scorecard –Carting Away the Oceans – in which supermarket chain Trader Joe's ranked one of the worst among the national chains, Chicagoans from across the city have been rallying outside Trader Joe's stores to demand real change to their seafood sustainability practices.

Yesterday concerned citizens gathered outside Trader Joe's Lincoln Avenue branch to get petitions signed and inform the public of Trader Joe's harmful practices. This is the third such event in the Chicago area following events at the Ontario Street and Orland park locations. Greenpeace's mock website,, encourages concerned citizens to take action by calling their local branches.

Amy Pepper, from Uptown, joined the rally after learning about the Seafood Sustainability Report explained, “I shop at Trader Joe's expecting that they have environmentally friendly practices, I hope they listen to their customers and adopt a seafood policy that's sustainable and not harmful to our oceans.”

In the third edition of Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability scorecard –Carting Away the Oceans -- released this month, more than half of the leading supermarket chains in the U.S. have now made some sign of progress in increasing the sustainability of their seafood operations. However, Trader Joe’s has failed to show progress and is ranked at #17, the third worst ranking of the national supermarket chains surveyed.

Of the 20 largest retailers in North America, nine remain that have made no visible effort to increase the sustainability of their seafood operations and continue to ignore scientific warnings about the crisis facing global fisheries and the marine environment. These include: Aldi, Costco, Giant Eagle, H.E.B., Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Trader Joe’s, and Winn Dixie. Despite the progress of many companies, all continue to stock “red list” seafood like orange roughy, swordfish, or Chilean sea bass – some of the world’s most critically imperiled species. None of the companies featured in the report guarantee that they won’t sell seafood from fisheries that are harming sea turtles, dolphins, seals, sea lions, or other marine mammals.

"The good news is that seafood sustainability is now on the radar of many major retailers so we are seeing a shift in practices, but much more progress is needed," said Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner, Casson Trenor. "Unfortunately, our oceans remain in crisis and retailers that ignore this fact are contributing to the collapse of our marine ecosystems.”

The rankings follow:

1. Wegmans

2. Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant)

3. Whole Foods

4. Target

5. Safeway (Dominicks, Genuardi's, Pavilions, Randall's, Von's)

6. Harris Teeter

7. Walmart
8. Delhaize (Bloom, Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., Sweetbay)

9. Kroger (Baker's, City Market, Dillon's, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, Ralph's,

Smith's, Quality Food Center - QFC)

10. Costco

11. Aldi

12. A&P (Food Emporium, Pathmark, Super Fresh, Waldbaum's)

13. Supervalu (Acme, Albertson's, Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco, Save-A-Lot, Shaw's)

14. Giant Eagle

15. Publix

16. Winn-Dixie

17. Trader Joe’s

18. Meijer

19. Price Chopper

20. H.E. Butt (H.E.B., Central Market)

To help ensure the long-term sustainability of fisheries and marine ecosystems, Greenpeace advocates the creation of a worldwide network of marine reserves and fisheries management based on a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach. Today, supermarkets can help the oceans and meet consumer demand for sustainable products by refusing to sell seafood from fisheries that:

· exploit endangered, vulnerable and/or protected species, or species with poor stock status;

· cause habitat destruction and/or lead to ecosystem alterations;

· cause negative impacts on other, non-target species;

· are unregulated, unreported, illegal or managed poorly, and

· cause negative impacts on local, fishing dependent communities.

B-Roll/Photos Available

Full report and details available at:

CONTACT: Nicole Granacki,, 773-575-7335

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eliminating the ‘clout’ system: free and equal education for all


By John Bachtell

As a parent with children in the Chicago Public School system, I have to admit I wasn’t surprised to learn CPS CEO Ron Huberman had launched an investigation into the use of "clout" to get children of the wealthy and well connected into the system's elite magnet elementary schools and selective enrollment high schools.

This comes on the heels of the unfolding scandal in the University of Illinois system with the use of "clout" by University trustees, powerful alumni, donors and elected officials to get favored students into the university undergraduate and graduate programs and law school.

Since 2005 over 800 applicants were admitted to the university who didn’t qualify. As a group they had lower ACT scores and ranked lower in their high school classes than the average student admitted.

University Chancellor Richard Herman recently testified before the commission chaired by former congressman Abner Mikva investing the scandal that the “clout” lists have existed for decades, meaning this is a way of life for the wealthy and well connected. It begs the question - what's so different about what happens in CPS and the state university system and the so called "legacy" admissions for the nation’s wealthiest families at the elite private universities?

It goes without saying that whenever you have wealth and influence on the one hand and scarcity of anything on the other, you will have corruption to gain an advantage. Money and influence have corrupted and disfigured every public and private institution and are a part of the inequalities generated by the capitalist profit driven system.

One of the things that has galled the public is that families from working class and people of color communities are finding it harder and harder to send their children to college because of the economic crisis and skyrocketing tuition. The University system has seen an overall decline in the enrollment of African American and Latino students and in graduate and law schools. Meanwhile the wealthy get the breaks.

In essence we’re dealing with affirmative action for wealthy and well connected white families. Which is exactly why we need genuine affirmative action, to overcome institutional racism and the legacy of discrimination, to regulate and eliminate racial and gender and class bias and "clout" in access to higher education, hiring or promotion.

As long as there is institutional racism and the boards of trustees of the university system are composed of the wealthy and well connected, we will need affirmative action to guarantee working class, African American, Latino and other people of color, and women access to higher education.

When I took my son for a visit to North Side Preparatory High School in Chicago, one of the schools were “clout” has been most heavily used, I couldn't help but think what would it be like if every child had access to an education like this. The school was sparkling new, they seemingly had all the resources needed along with a highly trained and committed staff.

Instead, you have thousands of kids trying to get into a few hundred slots citywide. Children and families go through high anxiety and hold their breath hoping to get in. In the end you have a few kids who win and the rest are, well...losers.

The only way to eliminate winners and losers and “clout” is to level the playing field. Although the existence of magnet and special enrollment schools has been justified as a way to overcome racial segregation, the very idea of “elite” magnet schools and "selective" enrollment" schools creates a two tier educational system and invites corruption. It’s well known the development of these school fit’s the growth of gentrification in Chicago.

Statewide, the funding inequity between school systems is vast and growing. Some school systems like the wealthy community of Wilmette, spend $18,000 per student and others like CPS are able to spend only $7,000. If school funding is equalized, then every school could be like North Side Prep or New Trier High School.

Another solution is open admissions in the university system. Any student who graduates from a high school in the state and meets minimum academic standards should be admitted into the state university system.

Of course being admitted and being able to attend is another problem, both because of tuition cost and capacity. Creating a progressive tax system, taxing the rich and greater federal subsidies for education at all levels could reduce and even eliminate inequalities and the need for tuition.

Education is a right and ought to be free and equal for all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

State education cuts slash early learning, mental health

From Voices for Illinois Children:

Young children who need early learning opportunities and youths who need mental health supports are paying an outrageously high price for Illinois leaders’ failure to raise adequate state revenues.

Early childhood programs are marked for funding cuts of one-third – $123.3 million – in budget decisions approved by the Illinois State Board of Education on Tuesday. That move would strip preschool help from more than 30,000 young children and developmental services from thousands more at-risk infants and toddlers.

"This budget immediately erases five years of progress in early learning," said Gaylord Gieseke, interim president of Voices for Illinois Children. "It also reverses years of hard work to extend mental health supports to thousands of kids throughout our state."

Early intervention, prevention and treatment priorities of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership also are cut by one-third – or nearly $1 million – in the ISBE plans for FY2010.

These are just some of the cuts resulting from the irresponsible budget approved by the General Assembly and Governor last week. Legislators failed to agree on a revenue plan to adequately fill a multibillion-dollar budget hole and avoid massive reductions – leading to such ISBE cuts as:

· Bilingual education cut by 25 percent
· Alternative education cut by one-third
· Reading improvement and anti-truancy funding cut in half
· Homeless education funding eliminated

There are two ways to ease the pressures on children unnecessarily victimized by these cuts.

· Short-term: The Governor has access to about $1.2 billion in discretionary appropriations that he could use to avoid many of these cuts.

Contact Governor Quinn’s office today. Tell him that early childhood education and children's mental health are learning priorities that need greater funding for FY2010.

· Long-term: Tell your legislators and the Governor they must raise far greater revenues to protect children's education, health and human services – funding we could secure through an income tax increase like that envisioned in House Bill 174. State officials could revisit the issue of a tax increase in the coming months, and need to know that you support it.

Visit Voices' "Call for Kids" page ( to take action against budget cuts. And stay tuned for more budget updates, analysis and advocacy tips from Voices.

Healthcare SpeakOUT

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich

4 p.m. Sunday, August 2

Prisco Community Center

150 W. Illinois Ave.,

(corner of Lake/Rt. 31 and Illinois)

Aurora, IL 60506

$10 donation requested, scholarships avail.

Also speaking: Dr. Anne Scheetz, Dan Kenney, John Laesch, John Wojcik

Contact Siobhan at 630-270-8520 to reserve tickets or Geri Solomon at 630-803-9308. NB: Facebook confirmations count as reservations. Seating capacity: Up to 300.
Tickets can also be purchased through mail. Mail payment and make payable to Inner City Advocates, 1700 Molitor Road, Suite 101, Aurora,IL 60505.

Cosponsors (list in formation): Aurora for Peace & Justice, Americans for Democratic Action (NE IL Chapter), DeKalb Interfaith for Peace & Justice, DuPage Green Party, DuPage Peace through Justice Coalition, Rainbow PUSH (Elgin), Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice, Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice, Progressive Democrats of Illinois, PDA - 13, West Suburban Faith-based PEACE Coalition. Sponsors sought. Please call Siobhan at 630-270-8520 or email at

Monday, July 20, 2009

50 Health Care Advocates Interrupt Mark Kirk's Announcement for Senate

This just in from Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) Illinois:

[Kenilworth, IL] – Today, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) leaders held signs and chanted “Health Care Now” during U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk’s announcement for his run for Senate. A handful of volunteers made it to the front of the rally to challenge Kirk directly about the need for real health care reform. A frustrated Kirk responded, “We can’t afford to insure everyone.” ***See early press coverage below***

As Judith Gethner stated, “I attended Rep Kirk's news conference today where he announced his decision to run for Senator of Illinois. I clawed my way to the front gate and when it was time to begin the aide allowed a small group of us in. Having recently been interviewed by Channel 7 I found my way to his side. Although I snuck up on Kirk's porch after the news conference and was able to ask ‘why won't you
support a public option for healthcare’ there wasn't any press around to watch him intentionally ignore me. I asked again, and he angrily responded ‘We can’t afford it.’

Gethner continued: “How can we afford not to, Mr. Kirk?” In a report released earlier this month, Health Care for America Now showed that 95 percent of the country has the choice of 2 or fewer insurance companies, burdening families and businesses with premiums that grew 5.6 times faster than wages from 2000 to 2007.

Pat Rice of Deerfield stated “I’m now $20,000 in debt and my 17-year-old daughter is ‘uninsurable’ from my insurance company rescinding my policy retroactively. I need the government to interfere in my health care – who is protecting me from bad practices of the insurance industry? I want Mark Kirk to change the policy.”

Dan Sherry of Barrington stated, “I’m a small business owner from Rep. Kirk’s district and have never been able to provide health care for my employees. The insurance industry won’t take my money because I have high cholesterol. I need a public health insurance option to provide insurance for myself, my family and my employees.”

A local businessman, David Borris of Hel’s Kitchen, was shoved away by police for simply asking Congressman Kirk why he won’t help small businesses control health care costs?

“There is no real choice or competition in the private health insurance market, and only giving everyone the option of a public health insurance plan will guarantee we get quality, affordable health care we all can count on this year,” said Davis Borris, small business owner. “A public health insurance option will force private health insurance companies to control cost, guarantee quality, stop hiding
what they will and won’t cover, and put people’s health before corporate profit.”

In communities of color, the need is even greater. The nation’s more than 103 million people of color suffer disproportionately in our health care system. For example, the mortality rate for African Americans in Illinois is 35 percent higher than for whites. Also, the infant mortality rate for African Americans in Illinois is more than 2.5 times that of white infants.

Legislation under consideration in Congress right now would offer one of the best opportunities since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 to erase persistent health disparities. Despite Congressman’s Kirk assistance that we can not afford the same insurance tax payers supply him, we know better.

Citizen Action/Illinois is a founding member of Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a national grassroots campaign of more than 1000 organizations representing more than 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care we all can count on in 2009. Health Care for America Now and its principles for reform are supported by President Obama and more than 190 Members of Congress.

“Government-run health care programs in Canada and the United Kingdom show us the dangers of taking away personal choice. Long waits and denied care for routine procedures are rampant in both countries as bureaucrats dictate when and if patients may be treated. Make no mistake—delayed care is denied care.” -Kirk release,

The current system delays and denies treatment everyday. The insurance industry use of pre-existing conditions, recission, and denying treatments impacts thousands of Illinois families each year. Doctor’s do not have the final say in decision making in the United States. The insurance industry approves medical decisions. Under the
President’s plan, the insurance industry will not have the final say. 60 percent of bankruptcies in America are caused by health care crises. That is 54,500 bankruptcies in 2008.

When Dan Sherry and his wife missed their first insurance payment in 22 years, their insurance company kicked them off of their plan and
told him to reapply. The company got his medical records, found that he had high cholesterol (now a pre-existing condition, since they’d kicked him out,) and told him he was uninsurable. Sherry was forced to consider divorcing his wife in order to keep her and their children insured.

Call for health care reform!

Call Your Congressperson This Week!

1-866-210-3678 (toll-free)

Tell your Congressperson you want lower costs, more choices and coverage you can count on.

Easy Steps to take:

* Call your Congressperson. Call toll-free at 1-866-210-3678 to reach the Capitol Switchboard

* Ask to speak to your Congressperson's office.

Messages to share with your Congressperson:

* We want better oversight and sensible rules to make sure insurance companies provide fair and affordable coverage and can no longer turn people away for having a pre-existing condition like cancer.

*We want health care reform that will give us the freedom of choice to keep our current plan, choose another plan, or choose a quality affordable public health insurance plan.

*We want peace of mind from knowing that if anything ever happens, there would be an affordable and guaranteed health plan available to us and our families.

*I am your constituent and I demand quality, affordable health care for all NOW!

The shape of health care reform is being decided in Washington, D.C. right now. There is no more time to wait! Unless you act, we will lose this fight!

Bookmark our Action Center page and check back often for new ways that you can help to win real health care reform this year!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Call your Congressmembers to end the Cuba travel ban

From Latin American Working Group:

On the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (HR 874), many congressional representatives from Illinois are still somehow on the fence. Representatives Michael Quigley, Deborah Halvorson, Melissa Bean, Donald Manzullo and Daniel Lipinski say they are looking at the bill, HR 874, the legislation in Congress that would end the travel ban for all Americans. But, they said, the offices need to hear from constituents in order to justify co-sponsoring the bill. That's you!

A couple of phone calls from you to the DC office of your representative (or from your friends and family who live in these districts to whom you forward this alert), and we could possibly have five more co-sponsors in the next few days! Please, take five minutes and call 202.224.3121, the U.S. Capitol Switchboard. Ask to be transferred to your rep's office; then ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Tell her/him that you are a constituent and that you want to see Representative XXXXXXX co-sponsor the Cuba "travel for all" bill, HR 874, offered by Representatives Delahunt (D-MA), Flake (R-AZ), and co-sponsored by a bipartisan list of 163 members of Congress.

Please ask your friends and neighbors to call! It would be an enormous victory to have these congresspeople from Illinois sign on. Let us know if you make a call. We will follow up with each office next week to keep the pressure on them. You can email me at or call at 202.546.7010.

Thanks for all your help.
Andy Turner
Latin America Working Group

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Support the 2009 Disability Pride Parade

From Chicago Access Living:

On July 25, as part of the 6th Annual Disability Pride Parade, thousands of people will parade up Dearborn Avenue in downtown Chicago to celebrate disability empowerment and the 19th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We want you to be part of the celebration! Community members, disability supporters and all interested parties are invited to gather on the plaza at One South Dearborn (there are benches, there is open space and there is shade) then cheer the parade as it passes the intersection of Dearborn and Madison.

Immediately following the parade, join Post-Parade Celebration at Daley Plaza.

What: 2009 Disability Pride Parade
When: Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Parade starts at 11 a.m. (Plaza – One South Dearborn)

Where: The parade steps off from Plymouth and Van Buren then moves north on Dearborn. Spectators will gather in the plaza at One South Dearborn

For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 (voice), 312-640-2102 (TTY),

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Protestors tell Pizza Hut: no justice, no pizza

By John Bachtell
Chicago - “I have spent my whole life – since I was 17 years old – working at Pizza Hut. Instead of respecting my hard work, Pizza Hut has thrown me on the street with nothing,” said Leonidez Contreras, now 33 years old.

Contreras is among over 200 workers in the Chicago area who have been fired by Pizza Hut since February after they were told to re-verify their eligibility for employment allegedly on the basis of “no-match letters” or face termination. The workers, mostly immigrants and Latinos, were given no notice and no opportunity to contest the information.

Their cause was taken up July 10 by picketers at a Pizza Hut in the downtown Loop who shouted, “No justice, no pizza” and passed out informational flyers to pedestrians. The action was one of 30 around the country organized to protest unjust firings and discrimination.

On July 9, Homeland Security secretary Napolitano officially dropped the Bush-Chertoff rules for Social Security No-Match letters. This rule obliged employers of workers who received such letters to fire them if they could not clear up the discrepancy identified in the letter within 90 days.

In 2007 a federal judge banned the Bush Administration from comparing worker identification with error-ridden Social Security records and then to subsequently round up and deport workers and prosecute companies.

Pizza Hut is owned by the self proclaimed biggest fast food restaurant corporation in the world, Yum! Brands. The company also owns KFC, A&W, Long John Silvers and Taco Bell.

“These workers are being fired because they are only suspected of no-match or frankly targeted because they are Latinos,” said Leone Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, the initiator of the protests. “Don’t scapegoat immigrants – they didn’t cause this financial crisis. They worked hard to make Yum! Brands very wealthy and now they and their families are suffering.”

Some suspect the real motive for the firings may lie in the deepening economic crisis and its impact on the fast food industry. High unemployment has meant declining sales. Yum Brands may see an opportunity to shed its workforce of higher paid senior workers and also not have to pay unemployment compensation or vacation pay.

And in the case of Latino workers employed by Taco Bell in the Madison, Wisconsin area, they charged the company with discrimination, including prohibition against speaking Spanish at work, lower wages for Latino workers, disparate treatment and assignments for Latinos and the use of epithets and derogatory language.

However, Napolitano also announced the DHS still plans to go ahead and require federal contractors to use the department’s E-Verify system, which screens workers by checking their status against I-9 forms they must fill out for each worker. But labor and immigrant rights advocates say the E-Verify system has many of the same flaws as the Social Security no-match system.

With E-Verify, "they're using databases that are also riddled with errors and will wind up costing a lot of authorized workers their jobs," said attorney Nora Preciado of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.

In addition DHS announced plans to begin auditing the I-9 forms of 652 companies. The same kind of audit was carried out at American Apparel, the Los Angeles garment manufacturer resulting in the firing of over 1,800 workers.

“This has the same net effect as the work place raids under the Bush administration,” said Tim Bell of the Chicago Workers Collaborative. “Thousands of workers will loose their livelihoods.” Bicchieri also expressed concern that Yum Brands and other corporations will now have the legal cover to fire immigrant workers.

In early June more than 200 organizations launched a national coalition to push for comprehensive immigration reform. Reform Immigration for America, includes the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, the National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Asian American Justice Center. They say the new political climate and the progressive nature of the Obama administration favors a fair and just immigration reform that doesn’t harm workers nor pits them against each other.

“Our nation’s broken immigration system isn’t working for anybody, said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, “not for immigrant workers who are routinely exploited by companies and not for U.S.-born workers whose living standards are being undermined by the creation of a new “underclass.” Reform of our current system is an integral part of our efforts to eliminate enormous social and economic inequalities here and around the world.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Walking to Washington DC for healthcare reform

By Pepe Lozano

In an effort to expose the failures of the current health care system, Dr. Ogan Gurel, 45, is trekking nearly 700 miles on foot from Chicago to Washington D.C. in order to bring to the attention of lawmakers the real hardships and suffering of people he meets on the way, when it comes to the lack of health care.

Gurel is appalled at how certain special interests and corporations have been dominating the debate, spending millions on lobbying, and working to maintain their own “piece of the pie” with little consideration for the people – those truly affected broadly by healthcare. Gurel says he’s fed up with recent statements made by insurance company executives, pharmaceutical interests, as well as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital association, and other groups who are trying to manipulate and distort the heated health care debate now taking place in Congress.

The World spoke with Dr. Gurel on the phone July 8 as he was walking along the Lincoln Highway just East of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

“Nearly 50 million Americans lack health care insurance and many more are grossly underinsured,” said Gurel. “Every American deserves health care and as a matter of public health, economic security, and simple human dignity, health care is a common good,” he added. “As a nation, health care for all makes us greater and as individuals it allows us to reach our full potential.”

Gurel said health care is about people, not lobbyists or special interests. Gurel notes his Walk for Healthcare does not uphold any particular policy position or piece of legislation yet he believes the principles of universality and affordability represent a framework for moving the health care debate forward. “The walk is about the ‘voice of the people,’” he said.

Choice is also important, Gurel explained. But the choices for millions should not entail choosing between foregoing healthcare, bankruptcy or worse, he said. “This is not choice, it is injustice.”

“Health care reform is the biggest legislative issue today since the Civil Rights era,” said Gurel. Reforming the system appeals to both sides of the political aisle, he added. “Invariably from the most conservative to the most liberal this issue affects people from both spectrums.”

Gurel was born in Turkey and came the U.S. at age two with his parents. He lived in New York most of his life and has been living in Chicago with his wife and stepdaughter since 2001. Throughout his career Gurel has worked as a surgeon and was a CEO of a medical device company. Currently he is a self-employed health consultant. Gurel said he is currently uninsured.

“I have seen many sides of the health care industry and people are naturally more open to talking to a physician,” he said. “It’s important that physicians, patients and really everyone play a role at the center of this struggle.”

So far Gurel has been talking to people at hotels, coffee houses, and truck stops as well as along the road at houses he stops at for water. Stories he has gathered include families going into bankruptcy due to the economic crisis as well as some (U.S. citizens) who have traveled to India for major surgeries where costs are more affordable. Others told him how they have been denied insurance.

“People get differing care and as a result are forced to go to emergency rooms as their only option for treatment,” said Gurel.

Gurel’s hike follows the Lincoln Highway, traveling through cities and towns across Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Walking along the Lincoln Highway is an appropriate metaphor for health care since the route began as a patchwork of private roads that was federalized into a cross-country highway to benefit the common good, he says. “Health care, likewise is a common good and it ensures our economic strength as well,” said Gurel.

Gurel walks about 25 miles per day, with rests in between, and he stays at hotels each night. Some hotel owners who support Gurel’s cause have allowed him to stay overnight for free. He hopes to arrive in Washington July 26 after collecting hundreds of personal stories.

It’s just not right that special and corporate interests are spending millions on lobbying fees that advocate no change in the system, said Gurel. “They’re only concerned about their piece of the pie and health care reform is about people’s needs not monetary reasons.”

Gurel continued, “This walk, I hope will contribute to a more appropriate perspective about real people’s lives. I intend to send a strong message to lawmakers and tell people’s personal accounts so that they can change things, perhaps radically.”

Gurel added, “By the end of the walk, the many stories we have gathered, shared, and documented will provide a compelling narrative which absolutely cannot be ignored.”

Elected officials would do the right thing if they just listened to people’s stories and not corporate interests, notes Gurel. Fighting for health care reform is a win-win situation, everyone wants it, says Gurel. “It doesn’t need to be a battle.”

Gurel gives first hand accounts throughout the day via Twitter (@Walk4Healthcare), Facebook and on his blog at Gurel said he already has 100 followers on Twitter and over 500 friends on his Facebook group. Those wishing to support or make contributions to cover lodging, meals or host Gurel in their home should email Kerem Arig (logistics coordinator for the walk) at Donations can also be made via Pay Pal to


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Illinois budget crisis fuels demand for progressive income tax

News Analysis

By John Bachtell
Chicago – As Illinois entered it’s 2nd week without a budget, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the state operating budget passed by the state legislature, sending the budget process into further chaos. The Democratic governor and Democratic controlled state legislature are wrestling with a $7 to $9.2 billion deficit (depending on whose counting) if no new revenues are forthcoming.

Quinn also began imposing cuts by announcing layoffs of 2,600 state workers and asked for an additional 12 unpaid days for the other 56,000 state workers. He threatened to layoff another 2500 workers if this wasn’t agreed to. Quinn outlined $1 billion in cuts to social service programs he want the state legislature to consider that will impact tens of thousands of people. Cuts will be heaviest in the department of Human Services and Corrections.

The Illinois budget crisis is mirrored across the country where at least 9 other states are without budgets in place as the new fiscal year begins. The crisis has been made worse since the US Congress stripped substantial aid to the states out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the first economic stimulus package. Calls are growing for a second stimulus that would include massive jobs creation and aid to the cash strapped states.

Calls for a tax increase as the only way to solve the budget crisis have not yet resonated widely enough because the progressive tax message has been muddled. Meanwhile, a labor leader said a bill passed by the State Senate would serve as a model for raising taxes fairly to overcome the budget crisis.

AFSCME Council 31 spokesperson Anders Lindall said, “There is a solution. It happens to be the best solution, the right solution, and the one with the most political support. House Bill 174, sponsored by Sen. James Meeks, has passed the Senate; it has passed a House committee. The governor has previously indicated support for it. It would raise enough revenue to prevent these kind of cuts.”

According to William McNary, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, HB174 should "serve as a blueprint to avert budget disaster."

Both chambers of the state legislature passed a budget, but Quinn previously vetoed the social service funding portion of it because it didn’t provide enough financing. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to Springfield for a special session until July 14 when the next paychecks of state employees must be issued.

Conservative Republicans and business interests have been pressuring Quinn to cut state funding, including state pensions, in order to gain their support. Republicans have enhanced power since a super majority is now needed to pass any budget. Quinn has made concessions including lowering the tax increase proposal and calling for budget cuts.

Calls for budget cuts ignore the growing demand for public services especially in the current economic crisis and that funding over the years has not kept pace with inflation.

Many Democrats are fearful of pushing any kind of tax increase (whether progressive or not) with legislative elections looming next year. HB 174 passed the Senate and a House committee but has been blocked from coming before the full House by Speaker Michael Madigan.

Demonstrations have taken place across the state over the last few weeks against the cuts and for a progressive tax increase to solve the budget crisis. Supporters of HB 174 point out it raises approximately $7 billion in new revenues while modernizing the state’s tax system and making it fairer, by increasing the corporate income tax rate from 4.8% to 5% and personal income tax fro m 3 to 5%.

One way to make a more progressive tax structure aside from amending the state constitution is to sharply increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). HR 174 triples the EITC, cutting taxes to low income, working families and doubles the state income tax credit Illinois homeowners receive for property taxes paid on their principal residence.

HB 174 also takes a step in overcoming inequality in the funding of school districts across the state.

It’s going to take a great deal more political pressure to get HB 174 passed in the House and take an important step toward a more progressive tax structure in Illinois.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coalition Supports Quinn’s Veto

From Housing Action Illinois:

No vacation for lawmakers until they pass 12-month budget that is morally and fiscally responsible, group says

Springfield, IL—A coalition of 50 organizations representing millions of Illinoisans applauded Governor Quinn today for demanding that lawmakers fulfill their shared responsibility to craft a 12-month budget that fully funds vital community-based programs throughout the state.

The coalition warns that a Democratic “Doomsday Lite” proposal to cut funding by 30% for programs ranging from domestic violence and child abuse prevention to care for seniors and people with disabilities would be devastating. A proposal floated by Republicans to pass a temporary budget based on FY ’08 spending would not only lead to harmful cuts in services, but would do nothing to alleviate the anxieties of caregivers or the families they serve.

The coalition is urging all 177 lawmakers and Governor Quinn to remain in Springfield for as long as it takes to reach a bipartisan agreement on a full, 12-month budget that cuts nonessential services and revenue to close the budget gap.

“The families of the people we serve aren’t making vacation plans, they’re cancelling them, and trying to figure out what they’re going to do about child care, about health care, and who is going to have to quit their job to take care of an aging parent or disabled family member that the state is poised to dump out on the street,” said the Reverend Dr. Denver Bitner, head of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI). “Lawmakers shouldn’t be making any vacation plans either, until they pass a budget that is not only fiscally balanced, but also morally balanced.”

The coalition says they have seen signs of progress. Under mounting pressure in recent weeks, Democrats and Republicans have publicly acknowledged that the state has a moral responsibility to fully fund community-based programs, and they have recognized that the proposed cuts are creating anxiety for families that are directly impacted. Privately, rank-and file lawmakers from both parties have admitted that a tax increase will be needed as part of the budget solution.

But coalition members say that Democratic leaders are pushing a “Doomsday Lite” budget that would still have devastating consequences, including:

• 15,600 seniors will lose community care programs that enable them to remain in their homes and out of nursing homes, and another 35,000 seniors will see those services reduced;
• 88,585 children will lose day care services, threatening their parents’ ability to work;
• 12,900 women will lose life-saving breast cancer screenings, and 45,000 men will lose prostate cancer screening and prevention services;
• 12,000 teens and adults will lose treatment for drug and alcohol addiction;
• 60,000 pre-school children will lose their early childhood education;
• 11,000 cases of elder abuse will go uninvestigated;
• Half of the state’s child abuse investigators will be eliminated, raising caseloads to 20 to 1;
• Nearly 14,000 rape and child sex abuse victims will be denied crisis services.

The coalition also says a plan floated by Republican leaders to delay passage of a 12-month budget for 30 to 60 days would only prolong anxieties for families impacted by the cuts and for the 100,000 caregivers across the state that stand to lose their jobs. The coalition predicts that without an agreement in place between lawmakers from both parties and the governor on both cuts and new revenue, lawmakers aren’t likely to meet a new deadline, and would only insist on another extension. The coalition also points out that even the possibility of cuts has forced many local service providers to lay-off employees and close programs already. Those cutbacks would still continue even with a temporary spending plan, and the uncertainty would create greater instability in the state’s infrastructure of community-based service providers.

“Governor Edgar warned that it would be irresponsible of our state to implement a temporary budget, and he’s absolutely right,” said Nancy Ronquillo, head of Children’s Home + Aid, one of the state’s largest and oldest providers of care for abused and neglected children. “We’ve been forced to issue notices of potential lay-offs to over 700 employees throughout Illinois. We have nearly 800 abused and neglected children that we have to worry about and workers who deserve 30 days notice before they are laid off. No agency can go through that every month without creating total chaos.”

“These cuts aren’t just morally irresponsible, they are fiscally irresponsible, because every dollar we cut from preventative programs ends up costing taxpayers $6 to $8 down the road,” warns budget expert Ralph Martire, head of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. “When we turn our back on abused children, people with mental illness, our seniors and disabled, they don’t just magically disappear. They turn up again in our special education classes, prisons, emergency rooms and nursing homes, but at much greater cost to the taxpayer.”

The coalition says they will continue to press lawmakers from both parties to live up to their shared responsibility to invest in vital programs that promote the common good. More public protests are being planned following a rally two weeks ago that drew 5,000 protesters to the State Capitol and candlelight vigils held this week across Illinois. Opponents of the cuts are also being urged to call toll free at 888-616-3322 to speak to their lawmakers in support of a responsible budget.

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and the Supportive Housing Providers Association are among the coalition's member organizations.

Walk 4 Healthcare -> Healthcare 4 All

Chicagoan Ogan Gurel is walking to Washington DC to dramatize the need for health care reform. The route and stops are listed below. You can follow the walk on Facebook and Twitter as well as support the effort:

Nearly 50 million Americans lack health insurance; many more are grossly uninsured. Every American deserves healthcare and as a matter of public health, economic security, and simple human dignity, healthcare is a common good. As a nation, healthcare for all makes us greater; as individuals it allows us each to reach our full potential.

Healthcare industry lobbyists have been sharpening their knives. The debate now heating up is disturbingly shot through with arguments out of self-interest. Healthcare is about people, not special interests. The Walk for Healthcare aims to bear witness to the very real stories of hardship and inequity that persist in our current healthcare system, however great promise it holds. What ultimately should count is the people's voice, unfortunately increasingly muzzled by a stage dominated by back-door negotiations.

I will be walking from Chicago to Washington DC, meeting with people and sharing their stories (via Twitter, this FB group, and the media). Join me, tell your stories, support the effort ... above all, make your opinion known.

Information about making a donation to help make this possible can be found at:

Post your thoughts and ideas here or email

While the Walk does not aim to uphold any particular policy position or piece of legislation, the principles of universality and affordability represent a framework for moving forward. Choice is also important but the choices for millions should not entail choosing between foregoing healthcare, bankruptcy or worse. This is not choice, it is injustice.

Thank you for supporting the Walk for Healthcare.

6/27 Chicago (Leave Daley Plaza at 8am)
6/28 Gary, Indiana
6/29 Valparaiso, Indiana
6/30 Plymouth, Indiana
7/1 Warsaw, Indiana
7/2 Columbia City, Indiana
7/3 Ft. Wayne, Indiana
7/4 Cairo, Ohio
7/8 Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus, Ohio
7/9 Mansfield, Ohio
7/10 Wooster, Ohio
7/12 Canton, Ohio
7/13 Minerva, Ohio
7/14 Lisbon, Ohio
7/15 Chester, West Virginia
7/16 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7/17 Irwin/Grapeville/Greensburg, Pennsylvania
7/18 Latrobe, Pennsylvania
7/20 Bedford, Pennsylvania
7/23 Hagerstown, Maryland
7/24 Frederick, Maryland
7/25 Germantown/Gaithersburg & Rockville Maryland
7/26 Bethesda, Maryland & Washington DC
Contact Info
Along the Lincoln Highway (US Rt 30)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Create living wage jobs not Walmart poverty wage jobs

Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins is at it again. He's leading the charge to get the City Council to allow a 2nd Walmart store in the city - this time a super-center.

You'll remember the last big fight with Walmart resulted in the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance, requiring the big box retailers like Walmart to pay a living wage, not a poverty wage, if they wanted to do business in the city. Mayor Daley vetoed the measure which angered organized labor and its allies. Daley ended up taking a licking in the 2007 municipal elections when many of the alderman who supported the veto were defeated by labor candidates.

Brookins invokes the need for jobs in his argument for Walmart. We totally agree - we do need jobs, badly. All across the city and especially in the African American and Latino communities and especially among youth.

Brookins says a low paying job is better than no job. Well, that's where we part company. The problem is the Walmart poverty paying jobs are the cutting edge forcing all wages down, down, down for all and forcing the public to fund social services for Walmart workers that a living wage could pay for (ie food stamps, etc).

Instead of pushing for poverty wage jobs, we urge Alderman Brookins to join the fight for a federally funded massive public works jobs program (like the WPA during the Great Depression) to rebuild Chicago with affordable housing, mass transit, new parks and recreation centers, new schools, cleaning up the pollution sites, and put our musicians and artists to work creating public art, etc.

As we all know, there is plenty to do in this city to hire tens of thousands of unemployed workers and keep them employed for years to come.

It's clear the first jobs creating stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not going to create near enough jobs to put a dent in the unemployment rate. And with most economists projecting an "L" shaped economic crisis and a "jobless" recovery, the government is going to have to be the main creator of new jobs by the millions.

A good place to start is a piece authored by the Chicago Political Economy Group entitled "A Permanent Jobs Program for the US: Economic Restructuring to Meet Human Needs" found at:

Alderman Brookins - forget Walmart and poverty wages and demand public works and living wages!