Saturday, November 28, 2009


E-Newsletter | November 2009
Dear Colleague,
“Something important is happening in Cleveland.” That was the theme of the community event that inaugurated the opening of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry on October 21st – a worker-owned commercial-scale “green” business based in the Glenville neighborhood, one of the most severely disinvested areas in Cleveland.
More than 300 participants – including leaders of the city’s major anchor institutions, business, and government representatives, and community development practitioners and neighborhood residents – heard Mayor Frank Jackson call the laundry, “a model for how we can put our people back to work and rebuild our community.”
The Evergreen Laundry is the first in a network of worker cooperatives that is being launched in the city. Next up: Ohio Cooperative Solar and Green City Growers. For more background on the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative:
View the 5-minute Evergreen video and meet the worker owners of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry.
Read the article that appeared on the front page of the business section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Learn more about the Evergreen Initiative through The Cleveland Foundation’s newest publication.
Listen to this six-minute radio broadcast by journalist Daniel Denvir.

For the past two years, The Democracy Collaborative has been privileged to work with our partners in Ohio – including The Cleveland Foundation, ShoreBank Enterprise Cleveland, Towards Employment, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University – to develop and implement a community wealth building strategy. All of us are committed to making the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative a pioneering and innovative model of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability.
We look forward to continuing to update you in the coming months and years. If you would like to explore how the Evergreen strategy might be adapted to your community’s needs, please feel free to be in communication with us.
As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions. And don't forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog.
Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative


Study Highlights Wealth Building Effect of Community Land Trusts
An evaluation of Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, the nation’s largest community land trust, shows that the community land trust model of shared equity has expanded access to home ownership while also providing permanent affordability. Resale restrictions have succeeded at maintaining affordability, even when home prices increased. More than two-thirds of the 205 residents who exited the land trust have “stepped up” to full home ownership after realizing their land trust equity gain.
report-davis-stokes.pdf (5.3MB)

Social Movements for Regional Equity Gain Ground
For the past 20 years, progressive movements have been flourishing at the local level. Increasingly, these movements are forming “regional equity” coalitions that seek to build wealth in their local communities by working across a range of issues, including affordable housing and access to transit. In this book, Manuel Pastor and colleagues contend that “social movement regionalism” may have a positive impact on the resurgence of rebuilding wealth in low-income communities across the United States. See:
flyer-pastor-et-al.pdf (1MB) and

Book Calls for Return to Progressive Roots
The Next Progressive Era begins with the premise that the issues concerning progressives 100 years ago—income inequality, a weak labor movement, and environmental destruction, to name a few—are the same issues facing the world today. Drawing confidence from the successes of the progressive era, authors Philip Longman and Ray Boshara advocate a return to its guiding principles of protecting families from the harmful effects of global capital and broadening ownership of both real estate and wealth to ensure shared prosperity.

Detroit and Oakland Exemplify Growing Urban Agriculture Movement
In Healthy Food for All, researchers at the nonprofit group PolicyLink and Michigan State University have joined forces to examine issues of access to healthy food in low-income communities, both in Detroit, Michigan and Oakland, California. Through interviews and focus groups, the investigators found that most low-income residents are aware of the need for healthy food but often lack access to healthy food sources. Yet residents in both cities are taking innovative actions to fix their food delivery systems.
report-treuhaft-et-al.pdf (3MB)


Steelworkers and Mondragón worker co-op network announce new alliance

The United Steelworkers union and Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, which is based in the Basque region of Spain and employs over 100,000 in a network of over one hundred worker cooperatives, announced the formation of a new alliance. In announcing this alliance, Steelworker President Leo Gerard noted, "Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities."

Impact Investing Seeks to Harness Capital for Social and Environmental Benefit

The inaugural issue of the social enterprise magazine Beyond Profit explores the viability of what Antony Bugg-Levine of the Rockefeller Foundation labels “impact investment.” Such investments, Bugg-Levine argues, “seek to make for-profit investments that can also provide solutions to social and environmental challenges.” For such social investments to succeed, however, will require the development of clear measures of success and an infrastructure that provides investors with both transparency and liquidity.
article-bugg-levine.pdf (450KB)

Plastic Safety Net Highlights Problems of Consumer Debt
In 2008, the nonprofit organization Demos administered a national household survey of credit card debt to low- and middle-income households. Of the 45 percent of low- and middle-income households with credit card debt, the average length of time in debt was five years and almost half accrued late fees. The authors conclude with three key policy recommendations: increase household savings, bolster employment and the safety net while reducing cost pressures, and guarantee fair lending practices.
paper-garcia-draut.pdf (920KB)

Urban Institute Examines Foreclosure Impacts on Families and Communities
The foreclosure crisis, while affecting the entire country, has had a more severe impact in certain neighborhoods and metropolitan areas—especially those where property values were already in decline— reports the Urban Institute in its latest study on the foreclosure crisis. The paper also looks at local strategies to curb the negative effects of foreclosure. A silver lining in the housing crisis, the authors suggest, is that it provides an opening for advocates to push for broader housing goals such as affordable rental housing.
paper-kingsley-et-al.pdf (120KB)

Study Calls for Social Enterprise Solutions to the Challenges of Global Poverty
This study—published by the Monitor Group—advocates business development solutions to poverty. The authors identify three key characteristics of successful microfinance operations to be self-funding, scale, and the development of tailored business models. Focusing on seven case studies, the authors find that success requires engaging the poor as customers and suppliers who have something to offer, not as supplicants or beneficiaries of aid.
report-karamchandani-et-al.pdf (2.1MB)

Community Development Banks Continue to Grow, Even in Sour Economy
In its annual evaluation of community development banking, the National Community Investment Fund notes that this is one sector of banking that is actually growing. At the end of 2008, there were 63 certified community development banks nationally, up from 55 the year before. NCIF believes that hundreds more of these banking institutions could be certified. Although the recession has hurt the balance sheets of community development banks just like those of other financial institutions, the deep relationships they have with borrowers help them foster debt-restructuring strategies.
report-ncif.pdf (190KB)

Town-Gown Relations Evolve as Colleges Take on Economic Development Role
This policy report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy explores the evolving relationship between universities and their surrounding communities in terms of land use and development. The authors note that universities have become increasingly important in cities as anchor institutions that surpport community development. The report also details which strategies work (and don't work) for mitigating land use conflicts.
report-sungu-eryilmaz.pdf (3.1MB)

“Buy Local” Leader Calls for Local Stock Exchanges to Spur Development
While local small businesses constitute one-half of the American economy, they receive almost no investment funds, notes Michael Shuman, Research and Public Policy Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). In an article published in the Community Development Investment Review, a journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Shuman argues that removing barriers to low-risk, small-scale stock ownership in local businesses could help small business become the engine of renewed growth in local communities.
article-shuman.pdf (75KB)

Paper Highlights Innovative Uses of Stimulus Funds
Examining the use of stimulus funds throughout American cities, this paper from the Brookings Institution highlights innovations in the use of stimulus funding “on the ground” in cities across America. Recognizing how federal regulations have sometimes stifled effective action from below, the authors make recommendations of ways that the federal government can “get out of the way” and more effectively foster innovation, creativity, and efficiency.
paper-muro-et-al.pdf (380KB)


The twelfth interview in our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders, this edition we feature Steven McCullough. McCulloch is CEO of Bethel New Life, one of the nation's leading community development corporations, based in the West Garfield neighborhood of Chicago. In this interview, McCullough talks about community development corporations, transit-oriented development, green building, and the challenges facing community wealth builders in the current economic recession.
interview-mccullough.pdf (200KB)


The seventeenth in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Buffalo, New York. Like other Rust Belt cities, Buffalo has seen many blue-collar jobs disappear. In response, City officials and residents have developed a number of community wealth building initiatives, with many aiming to combine urban revitalization with “green” strategies, including an eco-industrial park, urban agriculture, and community gardens.


Building the Worker Co-op Movement
Nearly 200 co-op activists gathered for the 5th Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31-August 2. This year’s theme, “Democracy Works: Worker Cooperatives, Labor Solidarity, and Sustainability” focused on the successes and best practices of the cooperative movement. As Carl Davidson explains in this report, attendees covered a wide range of topics. Models from abroad featured prominently at the conference: notably, the Mondragón system of co-ops in Spain and co-ops in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Both were examined with an eye toward lessons they might provide for co-ops in the United States.
article-davidson.pdf (150KB)
Article reprinted with the permission of Carl Davidson.


Asset Coalition Toolkit for the States

The Asset Coalition Toolkit for the States (ACTS) is an independent, information-sharing website through which state coalitions can exchange knowledge and strategies in the asset-building field. Sponsored by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law's Community Investment Unit, with support from the Levi Straus Foundation and the Friedman Family Foundation, ACTS provides a forum that fosters innovation through a wealth of resources.

Ohio Employee Ownership Center
The Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) provides technical assistance, research, and training to businesses in Ohio and around the globe to promote its mission of expanding ownership of productive capital. Assisting companies that want to become employee-owned or those that are already employee-owned, OEOC’s programs include grants to mitigate job loss and assistance to companies that are transitioning ownership. OEOC has partnered with The Democracy Collaborative and the Cleveland Foundation to launch the Evergreen Laundry Cooperative.

TimeBanks USA
TimeBanks USA, whose mission is "strengthening communities through reciprocity," helps develop and support time banks across the United States. A time bank is an institution where community members can “deposit” hours they spent working in the community in order to earn time when someone else works for them. This give-and-take approach to building communities breeds mutual value and respect that goes beyond the exchange of money. Each time bank has a website that coordinates the time needs of its community.

PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) (Buffalo, NY)
PUSH is a grassroots nonprofit community organization that empowers residents of Buffalo’s West Side to challenge poverty head-on. PUSH strives to engage the community in order to demand living wages and better housing. PUSH’s West Side Revitalization Project focuses on housing rehabilitation and weatherization while ensuring that low-income residents are trained and hired to work on such housing projects. In 2009, PUSH partnered with other local groups to advocate fair share tax reform in response to potentially devastating state budget cuts in New York.

The Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis (CHEPA) at the University of Southern California conducted a three-year study to determine the impact, potential, and pitfalls of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in helping low-income students gain access to and find success in higher education. Their findings can be found on this website. IDA-Pays also provides publications for policy stakeholders, as well as information on best practices and how to start an education IDA program.

Looking for Community Wealth Ventures, Inc.? Click here.

For more information, please visit

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Half Good.

(The first half is good)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Common Sense

Monday, March 16, 2009

Own Or Be Owned

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blue Oval News

How many UAW Porkchoppers can get on one site?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Valkyrie Background

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO to me
show details 11:16 AM (5 hours ago)


Dear Tom Laney,

The “Milwaukee Opportunities for Restoring Employment” (MORE) Ordinance is an essential tool for bringing economic recovery to Milwaukee’s Main Street. The legislation will come before the Common Council for its first hearing on Monday, February 2nd.

Essentially the MORE Ordinance extends the City’s Resident Preference Program (RPP) and Emerging Business Enterprise Program (EBE) provisions to private development projects seeking financial assistance from Milwaukee’s taxpayers. The ordinance includes a prevailing wage requirement as well as increased apprenticeship training and job opportunities for residents of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods. The ordinance has been endorsed by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, The Milwaukee Building Trades Council, as well as member unions.

The MORE ordinance is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work by members of the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition (GJLN) and Milwaukee Innercity Congregations allied for Hope (MICAH). There are currently 6 aldermen who have signed on to support the ordinance, understanding that their leadership is needed to address the job crisis facing the City of Milwaukee.

Will you be one of Milwaukee residents and community leaders who will help us pass this ordinance? Please come stand with us at the Community and Economic Development Committee meeting at 8:30am on Monday, February 2nd at City Hall.

For more information contact Todd Sprewer at 443-0682

City Hall
200 East Wells
Room 301-B
8:30am on 2/2/2009
opieu 9 afl-cio

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Sane Econ

I wonder if I could ever transform myself from being "conflict-oriented." Rather than the semblance of cooperation currently touted by the NEW-UAW, a genuine cooperation would necessarily include my right to an equal share in the design, investment, and direction of the industry with voting and traditional striking and grievance rights, should things go as they have historically.

Republic Windows is a shining example of the full possibility of the American Experience. With a little help from a sit-down strike and solidarity donations, plans are in the works to not only pay severance packages, but also forming a new company and resuming a collective and cooperative production system.

Zanon Ceramics also comes to mind.

We could very well organize a sane economic program right under the noses of big, corporate and government financiers, starting with fair-trade, home/garage-made, union/guild product retail stores, giving people an alternative to Chinese Slave Shit. Through occupations, we can win the right to recover our lost industries and enterprises, so they can be run democratically by those that do the work. Through conversations and planning, guys and gals can band together to start new collectives from scratch, like the Union Cab Cooperative of Madison, WI.

It should be said that this new economic program must include the tenets of morality and justice as central. As a consumer, I consider these things. As often as I can afford, I buy from unionized workers or directly from worker-producers.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner;
Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote." - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sorry! here's the link:

Sen. Richard Shelby Hates My Dad

By David R. Radtke

David R. Radtke is a partner in the Michigan law firm of Klimist, McKnight, Sale, McClow & Canzano and a member of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.
I have a confession. My father is an autoworker. I know that some people will recoil in disgust upon learning that fact, but it gets worse—he's a retired UAW autoworker and he and my mother live on a pension and have retiree health care benefits that supplement Medicare. In other words, he is public enemy #1 to Sens. Richard Shelby, Bob Corker and Jim DeMint.
According to these senators, my dad and his cadre of active and retired UAW-represented autoworkers are responsible for this country's economic downturn. In the color-coded chart of America's enemies, they are right below Al Qaeda and moving up fast.
My dad is despised by the right and the left. Right-wing Republican senators rail against my dad on the Senate floor because he's lazy, overpaid and coddled. For some on the left, their view of class consciousness compels them to speak out against anyone who has middle-class existence without the rigors of a college degree. My dad also is detested by the rich and the poor. Rich people don't like my dad because if workers earn good wages and benefits, it somehow diminishes their own affluence. Many poor people don't like my dad because they have dead-end, low-wage jobs, nonunion jobs with no benefits. It's America's version of class warfare, where you hate other workers that have more than you but idolize their bosses.
Since I've already established that my father is the scourge of "right-thinking" Americans—high school educated, union member, blue-collar job and now retired with a pension and health care benefits. But let me tell you a little more about him.
My dad grew up in Hamtramck, Mich., a Polish enclave surrounded by the city of Detroit. His mother was born in Poland and his father was second generation German-Polish. My dad graduated from Hamtramck High School in 1955 and, like nearly everyone of his classmates, went into the military. After two uneventful years in the peacetime Army, he returned home and married my mother. He got a job servicing office machines and my mom worked at the phone company.
None of their friends or relatives went to college. None. They all got blue-collar union jobs in factories or driving trucks or working for the government.
After a few years, me and my sister were born and my mom quit her job. My dad got into a tool-and-die apprenticeship program in a small factory and served a four-year apprenticeship. He also joined the UAW and my parents bought a three-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot brick ranch in Warren, Mich.
After getting his journeyman’s card, my dad got a job at Chrysler. He worked at various plants in Metro Detroit as a tool-and-die maker. I remember he was laid off a few times and went on strike once. When my sister and I were in grade school, he was often on the afternoon or midnight shift, so he would wake up for an hour or so in the morning to see us before school.
At some point, my parents bought a small, empty lot for $1,500 on a little lake in northern Michigan. My dad and his cousins built a little two-room cabin. Other than two weeks at Disney World, we spent every vacation at that cabin.
I vividly remember the tension and unease in our house when Chrysler was in deep financial trouble in the late 1970s. After Congress gave Chrysler a loan (which it paid back early, with interest) we had a gold Plymouth Volare—with a bumper sticker that said: THANKS, AMERICA.
When I was six years old, I had a serious medical problem that required two surgeries, extended stays in the hospital and many, many doctor visits and tests. Because my dad had UAW-negotiated health care, our family was not financially devastated.
Later, my dad transferred to an office job with Chrysler's parts division where he continued to use his knowledge of tooling and parts. It also was a UAW-represented job, but it was 9-to-5, so he saw my sister and I every day.
Just weeks before I was to head off to college, my dad had a heart attack shoveling snow. He was hospitalized for a short time and was off work for a couple months. Because of the UAW contract, his medical treatment was fully covered and he received sick pay. The UAW contract also guaranteed that he could return to his job when he recovered. Because of these benefits, I didn't have to drop out of college and get a job. Instead, I was able to continue my education with my parents' help and student loans.
When my dad retired after nearly 30 years at Chrysler, he retired with a union-negotiated pension and retiree health care benefits that supplement Medicare. My parents still live in the same three-bedroom brick house in Warren and spend a lot of their time with their five grandchildren.
Other than the short time my dad was off after the heart attack, he never missed a day of work. He raised a family and now he and my mother have a comfortable life.
But dad's not alone. Most of my parents' friends live much the same life. They are now in their 70s and they have modest, secure lives. They have lived what I was taught to be the promise of this country. Each generation progresses from the previous. Every person who works has financial security, decent health care and a dignified retirement. I learned this lesson in the public schools I attended and have heard it in speeches made by many politicians.
So, when did it become acceptable to be against that ideal? How can U.S. senators stand on the Senate floor and denounce millions of Americans like my dad? Workers who spent their lives raising families, paying taxes, adding to their communities and laboring in good union jobs for a middle-class life—the vaunted American Dream. Well, it's not acceptable and it is those senators who should be denounced.

UAW vs. Poor

The modern UAW seems to be completely oblivious to the Poor. Instead of sucking up to the Free Traitors and all the unemployment and poverty the Free Traitors are creating, the UAW could take a few lessons from the Friars.

Instead of hanging out in Vegas, golfing with the enemy, padding their salaries and bennies while cutting ours, the UAW "leaders" need to visit these Franciscans and get a new perspective on what dog-eat-dog really does to working folks.

Of course, that perspective would not really be new since the true UAW viewed the system through the eyes of the Poor - not the Rich.

And then they ACTED accordingly:

Click the following to access the sent link:

Detroit Franciscan friars sell fair-trade coffee to aid the poor, ministry*

Emigrant's Guide


Contact: Dawn K. Brohawn
Economic Justice Media
Center for Economic and Social Justice

ISBN 9-780944-997017 • Economic Justice Media • $20.00 • 240 pp.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, USA. Economic Justice Media, has published an annotated edition of THE EMIGRANT'S GUIDE, a rediscovered classic by William Cobbett (1763-1835), the "Apostle of Distributism." This new edition features a foreword by Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research of the Center for Economic and Social Justice ("CESJ"). The foreword examines Cobbett's focus on widespread direct ownership of the means of production, and the need to educate today's workers in the necessity of becoming an owner of a moderate capital stake sufficient to supplement or even replace labor income as a means of generating an adequate and secure income.

William Cobbett was a British journalist, reformer, and politician. Greatly admired by Gilbert Keith Chesterton (with Hilaire Belloc the founder of "distributism") and Dorothy Day of the "Catholic Worker Movement," Cobbett decried the economic helplessness of the average person and the political disenfranchisement that inevitably follows. To Cobbett, economic power was rooted in one thing: access to the means of acquiring and possessing private productive property, which more and more modern commentators are beginning to realize is the basis of a sound political as well as economic order.

As Chesterton said of Cobbett, "The chief mark of the modern man has been that he has gone through a landscape with his eyes glued to a guidebook, and could actually deny in the one, anything that he could not find in the other. One man, however, happened to look up from the book and see things for himself; he was a man of too impatient a temper, and later he showed too hasty a disposition to tear the book up or toss the book away. But there had been granted to him a strange and high and heroic sort of faith. He could believe his eyes."

Readers of Cobbett's best-selling History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland (1827) and The Poor Man's Friend (1829) will recognize many familiar ideas. At 240 pages THE EMIGRANT'S GUIDE not only offers a fascinating and entertaining study of early 19th century America, but is also an invaluable supplement to Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Orestes Brownson's The American Republic.

THE EMIGRANT'S GUIDE can be purchased on the internet from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or by special order from many bookstores. Bulk quantities (10 or more copies) for delivery within the continental United States can be ordered directly from the publisher, CESJ,, P. O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016, at the wholesale price of $16.00 per copy plus $1.50 per copy shipping.

"Economic Justice Media" is the imprint of the Center for Economic and Social Justice ("CESJ"). CESJ is a non-profit think tank in Arlington, Virginia, that bases many of its programs and proposals on the natural law and the binary economics of Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler.

Thomas Laney to Greg
show details Jan 5 (1 day ago)



I knew a lot of autoworkers. Thousands actually. Most of them worked to take care of their families.



Greg DeOrnellas
to Thomas Laney
date Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 12:26 PM
subject Re: Fwd: Retirement Account
hide details Jan 4 (1 day ago)


There is gonna be a problem, Tom,when employees who are showing up for work are getting paid less than ex-employees who are retireed and no longer productive.You were a Union President you know all about the UAW mentality of 'keeping score'.Divide and conquer is an effective strategy.For the sake of pragmatism,next time you want to espouse an extremly liberal social philosophy throw in a requirement that all able bodied persons who are able to contribute shall be required to give back something positive to the community.Good-Luck with that!

date Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 10:08 PM
subject Re: Retirement Account
hide details Jan 2 (3 days ago)


That was the 2007 ERISA report. What will the 2008 report look like especially after they used the pension fund to
to pay for retirement incentives--$45,000 for production $62,000 for trades. sos shot

Ford pension up

It's good to see from the latest 2007 ERISA report that after all bills were paid, our UAW retirement account went up $638.4 million. Note, there were NO - ZERO - NADA, contributions made by Ford, it was all earnings from investments. That's after $68.5 million was paid for "administrative expenses."

So much for that legacy cost BS. Hope Getty doesn't give this to the company so they can still get bonuses.

Happy New Year - Mike

Get behind the workers

Larry G. Solomon
to Thomas Laney
date Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 9:30 AM
subject Re: What we can do


Happy New Year Tom & Barb. Thanks for both articles. I think you are on to something here. I like the bold print and don't have to read it with my bifocals. Everyone of us are going to have to be in the same frame of mind if we are going to be of any help in getting the rights of workers restored to the former good days. We must not let anyone influence us to do anything else but give full support to the cause of labor regardless what the unions do. You and I both know that the weakest of us in the UAW sucked their way to the very top and never had experienced the solidarity of the rank-and-file but had sympathy with the companies which is a direct violation of the union cause and is the root cause of why we are in the trouble we are in.

When the day comes that the whole country gets behind the workers in every conflict, whether they are organized or not, then you will start seeing some change. So far we have not hit bottom but the day will come that all workers will see that an injury to one is an injury to all. There will no longer be jealousy in the disparity of wages and benefits, but a feeling of solidarity with anyone whose way of life is being threatened.

I enjoy your articles. Thanks again. Larry
- Show quoted text -

Work Like Dorothy Day

What we can do Inbox X

In these tough times for autoworkers and all workers - including our troops who are coming home to find their jobs are gone - we can see that what is happening with the unions is not what is supposed to be happening with unions. The UAW, for instance, has no answer for what ails autoworkers. The UAW leaders plan, as they have planned for 30 years, to concede its way out of this mess they've put us in. But as we know, refusing to fight for good jobs for all also means giving away good wages and jobs. This does not provide job security for anyone but the very rich.

One of the problems rank and file workers face today is finding ways to fight for our jobs as well as fight for jobs for the unemployed. There is no longer a Solidarity Movement in the United States, at least the sort of Solidarity Movement that can do that, win a fight for Solidarity.

We need to look backwards to see how we can form a new Solidarity Movement based in the goodness of the old. The UAW after all, started as an effort to defend not just autoworkers but workers everywhere. The old UAW stressed the family and that the union was an extension of family virtue. The old UAW members even called each other "Brothers" and "Sisters".

The new UAW calls us "the competition" and calls us to eliminate each others' work. Hardly anyone speaks to this revolution against workers and the Poor - who are too often these days, the same people.

The new UAW turns a blind eye to the 37 million Americans in poverty. In fact, UAW leaders are presently planning to cut more wages, jobs and benefits so that a few of us may survive. This is crazy and we need to find our way back to organizing each other to fight for Just Trade and good jobs for all.

And I don't mean to just be picking on the UAW. The entire American Big Labor leadership is a disgrace to common fairness.

Getting back to Solidarity will require a LOT of work. We have to start communicating with many more autoworkers, steelworkers, ironworkers, dockers, drivers, farmers, small business folks, professionals and the unemployed about common sense economics: The Justice fact that everyone has a right to a decent job. That is a pretty big job right there: Reaching agreement that unemployment, underemployment and poverty are Unjust. The next agreement should be that the present system requires unemployment and poverty in order to keep the few rich. The third agreement should be that we can fix this if we can get ourselves together on Economic Justice.

One of the biggest American Labor Heroines was Dorothy Day. Dorothy had the answer to everything we face today. She had none of the organizing tools we have today like computers, Email, blogs, faxes, the unlimited ability to travel and meet. She did have the clarity we seem to lack about what needs to be done.

Don't give up! Do not let them steal our jobs, country and world.

Look at this little essay below about how hard Dorothy Day worked and how much she loved the Poor and us Working stiffs. And look at what she was able to do just in the way of talking to others and building thousands of friendships! If each one of us passed this message on, we would be acting to form true unions around Solidarity - First step in winning a Just Society with good jobs for all. Just look at what we can do if we follow Dorothy's lead.

Happy New Year!


C. W. Editor On W. Coast; Story of Lettuce Workers

by Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, May 1940, 1, 6, 8.
Summary: Tells of many meetings and talks around San Francisco. Recalls the union busting and violence against lettuce workers near Salinas. Laments the lack of leaders to bring Catholic social teaching to the workers. Wants "fellow travelers with the poor and dispossessed," who will spread the Gospel, recognizing that the poor are "creatures of body and soul." (DOC #356).

March 13 was a fearful day for meetings. Up for the 6:30 Mass (I had been awake since 4:30, for some reason or other), and at 8 I was called to go out to Reid College. There I spoke to a philosophy class which is studying religion from the time of St. Augustine to Thomas Aquinas, and at 10:15 spoke to the Assembly. At noon there was a luncheon of a churchmen's group, all denominations, and that, too, was very stimulating. Two young fellows who were in the contracting business wanted to know how they could continue work, since they could not, in their small business of home building, with small profits, use union labor. One of them was a Swede, and they hired Swedes to work for them. I told them about Ralph Borsodi's project, and urged them to write to him. Also about the cooperative housing at Nova Scotia.

Leaders Needed

The next meeting was to speak to the men at the Archbishop Blanchet Shelter, and they, too, were very responsive. Whenever I speak to a crowd like that, or at a Workers' Alliance, or a St. Vincent de Paul Shelter, I feel the intensity of interest in the idea of work and cooperation and ownership. If we had the leaders to carry on the work, start study groups, get the men together, I am sure we would have the land given us. But where are the leaders interested? I must remember the words of our Lord: "Pray ye, therefore, that there be laborers for the harvest." Certainly the harvest is great. I feel so ineffectual, so limited, able to do so little. When I think how few there are who are reaching these men, these unemployed, these destitute, the union meetings, to bring them Catholic social teaching, some idea of the correlation of the material and the spiritual, so that they can indeed begin to realize that they are creatures of body and soul. How great a need there is to build up many little centers where men gather together and discuss these things and get these ideas moving. Patience, contentment with the little way, hard work, obscurity and poverty, the knowledge of the poor which results in the love of the poor, these are what is needed.

Right now I am in San Francisco, stopping in a little hotel, the Boyd, right around the corner from the Franciscan Church, St. Boniface. It is a beautiful church, always crowded with worshippers, and reminds me of our Franciscan Church on 31st street, New York. Father Paul is our friend and adviser there, and has charge of the Young Christian Workers. He has been very ill the past six months, and is only now at home again. He had a frightful infection, which cost him his leg, and is preparing for another operation in a few weeks. The other day he gave his blood for a Jewish boy in Chicago who is suffering from the same disease. Since I was here last, two years ago he has been active in the labor movement, and during his illness he received letters of sympathy from many labor leaders and also from Communists whom he has met in the International bookstore, which is opposite the church.

There has also been started at the church a library and reading room, and there are clubrooms upstairs for the Y.C.W. and an auditorium downstairs, where I spoke to many of our old friends last Tuesday night. It was good, too, on Tuesday to go to the communal breakfast which is served down in a big dining room under the library. This was a feature which I much enjoyed on my last trip here, this breakfast which everyone enjoys after the novena services every Tuesday morning.

The hotel is old and dingy, but a good cheap place to stay. My room is dark and on an airshaft, but there is fragrance of flowers from the bouquet on my dresser. On every street corner they are selling spring flowers, and outside the sun pours down and during the day it is hot, until evening, when the fog rolls in like a curtain from the bay.

Monsignor Sheen

One of the Sunday afternoons in Portland I was able to listen to the Catholic Hour and Monsignor Fulton Sheen. The day before I had met a convert who had been drawn to the Church by listening to him. He lived in a tiny town in Montana, and when he began to take instructions he had to go forty miles in all kinds of weather, and then he was never sure of finding the priest, who was often called far off to some remote town in his vast parish on a sick call. He took instruction for two years and read many books. The day he was baptized it was so cold they had to melt the water for the baptismal, and the priest almost froze his hands.

Methodist Church

In Portland, too, among dozens of other meetings, I was asked to speak at the Mt. Tabor Methodist Church, and since the Archbishop had told me to speak anywhere I pleased in his diocese, I took advantage of the offer and spoke there from the pulpit. It reminded me of the little Methodist churches in the South where I had attended meetings of the sharecroppers, where the walls had the marks of bullets and where the furniture had been broken up by bands of vigilantes. One of the churches was used to shelter four evicted families who lived in the four corners of the meeting room.

Benedictine Monastery

I spoke one afternoon at the Mount Angel Benedictine College and Seminary, and one of the young farmers who was a student was horrified at my story of how we had bought Rosie, our first cow. He took it very seriously and didn't seem to see the humor in the story at all.

Father Alcuin, who is pastor of the little town of Mount Angel, is promoting the flax industry among the farmers. We went over the big sheds they had built, and they showed us the processes. There is plenty of rain out here for it. I got some specimens for Teresa's little museum down at the Easton Farming Commune.

They have a creamery, a farmers' union, a gasoline station, all cooperative. They have a craft shop, where the women were weaving linen towels. This monastery is a good illustration of the influence of a monastery on the rural life around it. There was some government aid in building the sheds and offices for the flax, but most of the capital came from the farmers. The parish house is the center of charities, relief, community chest, and there is a big school and gymnasium.

The approach to the monastery is up a hill through a fairytale forest of great trees. There are stations of the cross up the hill. The monastery itself burned in 1926 and the story is that the monks, by the light of the fire, sang their office. They had been unable to save anything but their choir books.


It was an all-day bus drive from Portland to Spokane, and it was an awe-inspiring trip through the mountains and long the Columbia River highway. Then through waste lands and later vast wheat country, which made me realize more than ever the industrial system of farming out here.

One woman I met here told of the farm she had lived on, of 3,800 acres. Her husband had $140,000 in money, but he finally was ruined by his speculation in wheat. In addition to growing wheat (which at one time went down to 25 cents a bushel), they raised everything they needed for the table. Their trouble was in staking everything on one big crop. The vast size of the place meant taxes, machinery. They finally lost the place. They are now in the cities and the son is studying business administration.

Indian Cooperative

One afternoon I met a Sister of Providence who was working among the Indians at de Smet, Idaho, not far from Spokane. She and some of the college girls at Holy Names have built up a cooperative there. They make dolls, baskets, jackets and gloves. The handiwork of the gloves is so exquisite that a large Eastern manufacturer wished to get work done by them. The set-up now is infinitely superior, as the Indians tan their own hides and make the complete product themselves and have the pride of the artist in their work. Now they are co-creators, artists, but the factory would turn them into hands! They would no longer be men.

Unemployed Cooperative

Another day I visited Riverton club, an old house of 24 rooms, with five acres around it, which has been started under the sponsorship of the St. Vincent de Paul with the help of the County Welfare. Men who are classed as unemployable and who have not reached the pension age pool their resources and live together. They intend to keep rabbits, chickens, and go in for intensive gardening. The men were glad to show us around. One had mushed for years in Alaska; another was a railroad man; another a seaman; another a mechanic. This is the first State in which the St. Vincent de Paul has engaged in this work, and it is a splendid enterprise, holding in mind the idea of personal responsibility on the part of the men.

Lettuce Workers

Mrs. Robert McWilliams is assistant chairman of the State Central Committee of the Democratic party and has been for years interested in the condition of the migrant. Last week we drove down to Salinas which is about a hundred miles down the valley from San Francisco, and as we drove, she told me about the Salinas lettuce strike. The Filipinos and Americans had a good union, A.F. of L., and had good wages and conditions. But the growers, packers and shippers were determined to break the union by not renewing the contract when it expired. A strike followed, scabs were imported, sheds were built for them inside "riot fences" near the sheds. The frames still remain. I saw them this afternoon, a threat and a warning to the workers.

It was a bloody strike; there were citizens' committees, vigilantes, everyone was deputized. Strangely enough, they were afraid, not of the Filipino and Mexican and American lettuce workers, but that Harry Bridges and his longshoremen were going to march down the valley and take over the fields and the town. They organized the shopkeepers not to sell to the thousands of workers living around the town. Even a little tobacconist, when they tried to enlist him and failed, was assaulted. A tear gas shell lodged in his arm. Neither doctor nor nurse could be procured. They also had been enlisted.

Mrs. McWilliams told how she had witnessed this assault and had to dig out the shell herself. She told of treating the eyes of the workers with a paregoric solution to ease the pain of the gas attacks. Nauseating gas was used which resulted in diarrhea as well as vomiting, and the workers were humiliated and their spirit broken. Axe handles were imported and the boys at the manual training high school were given the job of weighting them with iron to be used as weapons against the strikers. Trucks loaded with lettuce were driven up and down the streets of the town to convey the impression that the strike was broken and to provoke violence.

It was a time of terror for three weeks, then an agreement was signed which left out of account the six thousand Filipino workers. Another strike occurred later and then the union was broken completely.

The Filipinos and Mexicans work in the fields, and the Americans in the sheds at cleaning and packing. The Filipinos live in camps the year around, get in debt to their employers and then have to work it out. There is a Chinatown and Filipino district which looks like all Chinatowns even in its architecture and the narrow streets. There is a red light district, which we drove through, wide open, generally accepted by the community as a necessity. No Filipino women are allowed according to immigration laws. Only the males are admitted. We presume they are supposed to remain celibate.


They say the great majority of the migrants are from Arkansas and Oklahoma and as we visited the camp on the outskirts of East Salinas a car drove up with an Oklahoma license. There was a rumble seat in the back and in addition to carrying two passengers, there was a double bed, a spring, mattresses, bedding, two chairs and a table, somehow loaded on the back. There were three fellows and a girl, and the girl had clutched around her a bathrobe which was too small for her, instead of a coat. There were all young, perhaps were children when the migration started. I was reminded of Ma Joad in the movie, The Grapes of Wrath, and her determination that they would all stick together. Most of the families I have seen have many small children, but certainly this life is not conducive to sticking together.


As I write this I am in a little cabin in a trailer camp outside Marysville. Down in the hollow, back of the road, there are forty families encamped. Down on either side of the highway, nestled down under the levee of the Feather River, there are more families. Many of the camps are surrounded by water and mud. The stars are reflected in the pools of water in the fields and the orchards. Last week there was a bad flood up here so that most of the roads were under water and many of the small farmers have taken to trailers and shacks along the roadside. There is the constant sound of frogs (remember the frogs in the movie Grapes of Wrath?) and of cars zooming by on the highway.

It is so sad to see this constant coming and going, hundreds of thousands of people on the move from place to place. In the Northwest there was the tragedy of greed in the cut-over ruined lands. Here there is the tragedy of a landless people, homeless, meagerly fed, housed like animals rather than like creatures made to the image and likeness of God. Those in power have waxed fat and have forgotten the things of the spirit. Those in misery have forgotten that they are temples of the Holy Ghost. How could they remember?

More than ever am I convinced that the solution lies only in the Gospel and in such a leader as St. Francis. Peter Maurin has been taking these past two years of recruiting troubadours of Christ. More and more am I convinced that together with our purely material efforts of building up hospices and farming communes we need these fellow travelers with the poor and dispossessed to share with them their poverty and insecurity and to bring them the reminder of the love of God. It is the hardest work anyone could do, in the face of that saying of Kingsley when tracts were offered to a starving people "religion is the opiate of the people." It is a sad saying that has made cowards of many who are afraid to speak of God to those with empty stomachs. But they are not just mouths to be fed, bodies to be housed. They are creatures of body and soul. The Communist goes among them, lives with them in his zeal for "leaders who themselves are workers," in his zeal to build up a people who will fight oppression.

Where are our Catholic college youth who will make a vocation of their unemployment, and use it as an opportunity to tramp about the country like St. Francis and bring the Gospel to these forgotten ones?

This text is reprinted from "Dorothy Day Library on the Web" at URL: and is not copyrighted. However, if you use or cite this text please indicate the original publication source and this website. Thank you.

UAW: Whipping the Concessionaire

Monday, January 05, 2009
The UAW As Whipping Boy, Solidarity As Answer
I worked in a Ford Assembly Plant for 31 years and for much of that time I was a rep in my United Auto Workers Local Union. I knew in my early days in that factory most of the best trade unionists I have known in my life. They were very principled people. Very tough. Very honest. Very hard-working. Very friendly and funny.

What they held in most in common was an absolute faith in God and the goodness of common men. (They had a lot of faith in women too but in 1972 when I started, there were only two women in the 2500-member UAW workforce.) They expected one worker to support another and they fought as hard as they could to keep their jobs fair and as comfortable as line work can be.

Against us was the hated stopwatch of Taylor and Fordism. But the Solidarity of lineworkers was a powerful force and each time the company cut jobs out of the line and passed the work to those jobs that remained, we managed to leave this extra work undone. Within a couple of weeks the cut jobs were reinstated, the war was ended, civility returned.

It was this fight against speedup and the emergence of Solidarity to win it that always defined the union for me. It was such a great and successful moral resistance to the assembly line and to all those who were so determined to make us robots that it made us all proud to be union. We were proud of our union even as the UAW hierarchy joined Ford against us. By the mid-70's, however, the UAW Bigs had persuaded most Local Union reps to go against us too and there was a short-lived, fairly broad rank-and-file rebellion against this new UAW and it's turn to company unionism. The speedup fights are long gone now. Here and there you can still see the best union members standing up for each other even though they are closely surveiled by UAW/Ford appointees and reps. Getting back to Solidarity means putting these rebels and fighters in touch with each other.

Why did this rebellion against worker against worker competition fail to make a revolution - that would be a return to the UAW's original family and community virtues? I think it was because none of us knew anything of Chesterton or Distributism in those days. We were boxed in by Left/Right ideas and never found the core of things, the things that most good people believe in. For one thing, we were coached through all sorts of very spendy industrial psych programs, that we didn't understand why the very idea of friendship, community and Solidarity had to go. We lined up with wrong ideas and the wrong people. We worked with the Left then left the Left when we discovered they didn't have the answer either. The Association of Catholic Trade Unionists dwindled away in anti-Communism, failing to provide us the Church's truths on Economic Justice, Subsidiarity and Solidarity.

The UAW was telling us that some of us had to go and the rest of us had to work harder to compete first, with the Japanese and later with everyone who needs a decent job. In 1982, we lost the fight for Solidarity amongst ourselves. We lost the fight for Solidarity with the Japanese. In 1984, we lost the fight for Solidarity with our own Canadian members as they abandoned the UAW's dog-eat-dog philosophy. In the 1990s we lost the fight to stop the assasination of Mexican Ford workers. Basically, we lost the fight for the respect and love one worker has for another. We lost the fight for the Christian belief that God wants us to be fulfilled by our jobs. All of us.

The UAW has a long Left history. It started from the Old Left but that Left was much different to me. The old Lefties in my Local were family guys with plenty of kids. they actually liked children more than cats, dogs and vegetables! They were Socialists and Communists because they were anti- Capitalists and the Left was the only other game in town. They were gutsy, highly principled, self-educated men. I expect many of them would have been Distributists if they could have been turned on to Chesterton and logged on to The Distributist Review. Most of all they would have loved Chesterton's belief that The Good Fight actually meant a fight.

Today, the UAW retains Lefties at the top, mostly in research departments where they are allowed to do little more than Bigs butt kissing and inform on the rank and file Left and true trade union fighters who continue to work real jobs in the factories.

About 10 years ago, my friend, Chestertonian Jeff James, a fighting, UAW rank and file activist in Ohio started me on Chesterton thus saving my activist life.

Five years ago I became friends with the fearless Santino Scalici who I immediately was able to add to my long list of noble Pros, UAW, Vets, family business people - all friends who will never stop standing up for others.

Last year I discovered the perfect sense of John Medaille and his terrific colleagues. Our side is looking up!

The dog-eat-dog, fear-mongering opposition is well-healed, everywhere, persuasive and persistent. The UAWs politics of fear work against us everywhere these days. It is a tough, tough thing to fight back in the shops and offices. But it is loco no? - that most of us have to go so the few can do well. You all are providing us lifeline ammunition we need to reason ourselves back to Solidarity.

I hope everyone here in this blog, understands what a wonderful thing you do, especially for us factory folk, in reinforcing our common sense, hope and courage.

We have, for many years, tried to make some sense of what the powerful preach to us on the necessity of selfishness. We have tried to argue for Solidarity against this false duty they assign us to attack ourselves.

Our job is to pass along all this great JUSTICE stuff for common sense, the common good and in particular, The Good Fight. Pass it on to everyone we know. Everyone can do something as MLK said. It doesn't have to be a big deal just buy someone coffee or start a workplace newsletter and spread the truth that Solidarity still works.

Thank you all for giving us the arguments and confidence to carry on this work.

God bless all!
"A pickpocket is obviously a champion of private enterprise. But it would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that a pickpocket is a champion of private property. The point about Capitalism and Commercialism, as conducted of late, is that they have really preached the extension of business rather than the preservation of belongings; and have at best tried to disguise the pickpocket with some of the virtues of the pirate. The point about Communism is that it only reforms the pickpocket by forbidding pockets."
- G.K. Chesterton


Thomas Laney Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 6:02 AM
To: Thomas Laney
Cc: Joseph Callahan ,
I forward this comment on Solidarity just because I disagree with it so much. We are all raised in Solidarity, able to age because first our parents were in birth & survival Solidarity with us, and later our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.

Solidarity is not something invented by unions. (The True Union, simply patterns itself on and defends families and extends Solidarity.) Solidarity is the natural state of the family and friendly neighborhood, Solidarity is what we are all called to by God. And as bad as things have developed in our country and as millions of good people are left in the wayside of unemployment and poverty; and even as I have been retired for 5 years; I will guarantee you that I can walk into my factory any day before it closes (soon because of the rejection of Solidarity by the UAW ) and find one man supporting another. And another. And another.

I can do that because Solidarity is in every man and woman's soul.

The reason Solidarity is not horizontal is that it is countered by selfishness. Solidarity is fragmented and atomized these days because the big labor porkchoppers have joined the bankers and corporations in traitoring away Solidarity for Dog-Eat-Dog and massive unemployment. They have literally spent $billions to separate us, demanding that we compete for work against one another.

What I have learned from speedup and outsourcing fights and picketlines is that whenever Solidarity rises, from the small fights on the job for fair work; to the big fights at P-9, CAT, Flint, USX, Morenci, etc. the big labor dog-eaters mobilize against Solidarity and contain and crush the fighters.

What those lessons mean to me is that we need a new Solidarity Movement that credits our families and God for our basic good nature, that recognizes the need for good work to fulfill our nature and children, and that can win a fight for a true Solidarity Society. All of us have the benefit of the long view of how good that society can be thanks to our parents. Most of us who have ever worked have at least a glimpse of it provided by all those wonderful, little things workers do for each other every day.

Solidarity is not "uninformed". It is beaten down by crooked little elites on the Left & Right. And it will stay down until people rise out of the nonsense boxes these elites have put us in.

Let's hope it will not be down much longer. Let Us Rise!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 1:21 AM
Subject: Fwd: Worthless

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Myers
Sent: Fri, 2 Jan 2009 9:39 pm
Subject: Re: Worthless

Jibbs typed:
That caught my eye also Marty,

This is why I have been saying , when GM stated "Bankruptcy was not an option" , the first thing that came to my mind was they would use the government to get even more concessions from the UAW , the best we can hope for at this point is that the president elect can change the provisions in the 'bridge loan '

This is also why I claim 'independent' in regards to politics, I haven't trusted either party for years now, Richard's writings here have also made me aware and sceptical that the government could be involved in America's race to the bottom as far as labor & working persons go , this global crap is getting way out of hand !

Hang Tuff , the 'Class War' is here-- Clubs & pitchforks come t o mind !

Soldiers of Solidarity is named after one of the most important labor principles of all: solidarity. But lately i've begun to realize that solidarity isn't enough.

I've been involved with job actions by mineworkers, packing plant workers, over the road truckers, over the road bus drivers, city bus drivers, machinists, electrical and communications workers, baristas, day laborers, farmworkers, janitors, immigrant workers, electricians, and probably half a dozen groups that i don't recall. Many of these struggles had one thing in common: insufficient solidarity.


What we've been witnessing is uninformed solidarity. Ineffective solidarity. And, solidarity in crisis, rather than solidarity as a visceral, systemic reaction by all the labor movement.

In other words, we (the working people) don't know enough, and aren't motivated enough, to come together with sufficient strength to make a significant difference.

Let us consider not just what is happening to autoworkers, but also, what might have been.

What we're seeing is an awakening. A gradual and growing understanding of the nightmare that is the lot of working people in this country when they're under duress. What's happening to autoworkers is a real horrorshow.

But considered on an individual basis, it is no worse than the pain endured by communications workers when their factories were closed in the early 'eighties, or the Greyhound bus drivers when they lost a bitter strike nearly two decades ago. The mine workers have seen many of their union locals crushed, and many packing plant workers can't get safe working conditions even when they have a union. Meanwhile, sweatshop working conditions are proliferating, even in the inner city near where i live.

Capitalism wins against groups of working people precisely because we're so isolated. We scream when our own group is attacked, but when groups of workers are picked off one by one, there is never enough outrage, never a sustained outcry, never enough to make a difference.

Given what's happening lately in the auto industry, what might have made a difference? How might the UAW have prepared for this, in a way that could avoid the great comedown?

Let us imagine that the UAW was led by brilliant labor leaders who were able to predict the ravaging effects of globalization decades earlier. (In fact, there are labor analysts who were this observant; just none of them in leadership positions...)

What might these fellows have done differently? They could have put much greater resources into organizing, building solidarity, helping groups of workers everywhere to join the fight to improve their own wages, hours, and working conditions.

There have been labor leaders who have done this before. The Western Federation of Miners in Cripple Creek organized hotel workers, laundry workers, railway workers, carpenters, typographers, clerks, cooks, waiters, wagon drivers, and mattress makers. Their organization was crushed by bayonet and gatling gun in 1903-04 when they attempted to extend their philosophy of class-conscious industrial unionism to mill workers in surrounding communities.

A similar philos ophy held sway in Goldfield, Nevada. The union sought to organize every trade in the community, to build solidarity and raise worker consciousness. Same result, the union was driven out by bayonets. Apparently, business leaders aren't comfortable with the idea of wall to wall union.

But these were localized, somewhat regional examples of the idea that all workers should join unions. They weren't backed by powerful unions, and the promise of solidarity by entire communities of workers was never allowed to reach fruition.

Now, let us consider if the UAW had been forward-looking, wise, and daring. Suppose they'd appreciated the need to organize our society in groups that could be called upon for solidarity when autoworkers came under the gun?

That would have meant expending enormous resources. It would have meant that a significant portion of the high pay won by the UAW would need to be diverted to this cause. And the explanation would have been, "we're building solidarity in other groups of workers, so when the auto workers are under attack, the truck drivers will feel loyalty and refuse to haul scab auto parts. The port workers won't handle scab vehicles. The janitors won't clean buildings opera ted with scab labor. The national guard won't turn out against us, because it would go against their own by-laws..."

And many autoworkers would have said, are you joking? The UAW is already the strongest union around. The U.S. auto industry is one of the most lucrative industries on the planet. Our dues is already too high, and the dire events that you're predicting will never come about. We'll vote in leadership that recognizes exactly what we want: high wages and benefits for our own crowd, and forget all this money spent supporting "outside groups".

Disagree with me, if you wish. But consider this: the very anger, bewilderment, and sense of betrayal that i see in many autoworkers today reminds me exactly of the bus drivers, the mine workers, the communications workers who have been crushed before. Over and over i get the sense that groups of workers imagine, it can't (or won't) happen here. And then it does.

I knew two decades ago that all autoworkers were eventually going to be under the gun, even before Roger And Me confirmed the model of destruction. How did i know this? Because of my experiences watching it happen to so many other groups. And because i've rea d quite a number of books about labor history, all of which affirm certain characteristics of the worker/owner relationship in a capitalist economy.

So, i think what is needed is solidarity that is informed by a sense of history, by an understanding of economics, and that is driven by class conciousness. It must revive some of the old principles held deeply by workers who developed their consciousness in the crucible of decades-long, extremely difficult labor struggles. We can clamour about solidarity all we want, but until we're ready to proclaim with heartfelt conviction that an injury to one is an injury to all, they'll continue to pick us off, one group at a time.

best wishes,
richard myers

Crooks with ties

Live Bait & Ammo #121: The Criminals Wear Ties

The claim that UAW members at the Detroit Three make $73 per hour isn’t a mistaken impression. There’s no mistake about it. It’s a grossly distorted fabrication spoon fed to power point parrots, sometimes known as “reporters”.

The deception is willful, premeditated, and malicious.

The inflated figure is based on a false analogy derived by transferring the companies’ legacy debts to active workers’ pay scales.

In essence, it is no different than a Ponzi scheme.

Old investors (retirees) are paid by new investors (active workers). When old investors outnumber new investors the scheme collapses. The principle reason that old investor/retirees outnumber new investor/workers is because the companies outsourced jobs. They devised the scheme and they planned it’s implosion for the same motive they do everything—personal profit.

Retirement benefits were earned and therefore paid for in the past. Earning a retirement with thirty years of labor is essentially no different than paying off a thirty year mortgage. Retirees have already paid for their benefits. They own the benefit—like a paid off mortgage—outright. Now that payment is due, the companies plea poverty and media hacks blame workers for their heartless greed.

It’s a lie.

The assertion that hourly workers cost $73 per hour is fraud.

Power point parrots, too lazy to question or analyze, aid and abet the crime.

GM/Delphi used to send active employees an annual “Personal Total Compensation Summary” which would sum up “the value of your benefits including Social Security” on a “per hour basis.” In 2004 the average “Total Compensation” [wages & benefits] cited was $42 per hour. *

2004 was the last year that Delphi provided the “Personal Total Compensation Summary”. It was the last year for good reason. In 2005 when Delphi declared bankruptcy, Delphi CEO Steve Miller invented the false analogy. Miller declared that UAW members at Delphi were paid $78 per hour in total compensation.

A $36 an hour raise in one year did not raise a single parrot’s eyebrow.

Curiously, professional parrots never compare the cost of salary compensation at the Detroit Three with salary compensation at foreign companies. Salary workers are shielded from public scrutiny. Compensation for their non value added work is off limits. The exclusion is revealing.

Blue collar workers are scapegoats for corporate malfeasance. White collar workers are protected.


The criminals wear ties.

*(2005 was the last year GM provided a “Total Compensation Summary” on a “per hour basis”. It was $44.)

Legacy debts have nothing to do with the hourly wage of active workers. The real issue is how the companies handled the money that workers deferred for pensions and health care.

Where does the trail of legacy profits—that should have covered legacy debts—lead?

The money is gone, if you believe the companies.

But we know that money is never lost, it changes hands.

The transfer of wealth is obscured under a cloud of 73 dollar per hour smoke.

The pension plan is fully funded because pensions are regulated by federal law. But the government provided the corporations with a loophole big enough to drive a Hummer through. Health care liability is not subject to federally mandated funding standards and is legally “unsecured”.

The result of an unregulated business practice is predictable.

“When leaders are ethically but not legally obligated, they will take advantage of you for their own selfish ends. Then, they will demean and disrespect you in order to justify their behavior and suppress their guilt.” [LB&A#10: UAW Bargaining Convention-1999]

Follow the money.

Instead of investing the deferred compensation in an annuity for retiree health care, the companies spent legacy profits on executive bonuses, shareholder dividends, and investments abroad. In the last thirty years GM invested profits from North America in assets overseas: assets protected from bankruptcy law in the US.

Profit is the legacy of labor. A portion of the profits from foreign investments belong to the retirees whose labor made those investments possible.

If you stop making payments on your car, the company repossess. Workers should likewise repossess assets acquired with money that belongs in a health care trust for them. Retirees have a moral and contractual right to the health care benefits they purchased with their labor.
Thirty-nine state AFL-CIO federations, over 100 Central Labor Councils and 400 local unions have endorsed HR-676, John Conyer’s "Expanded and Improved Medicare for All" bill. [] The first step is to unite the huge reservoir of support for single payer in thousands of local unions and labor bodies. To take that step, a number of labor federations and unions are planning a national meeting of labor organizations that
support HR 676, "Medicare for All," to be held in St. Louis on January 10, 2009.

Labor for Single-Payer Healthcare Meeting
January 10-11, 2009
The Crowne-Plaza - Downtown St. Louis

For additional information>
or contact Organizing Committee Coordinator Mark Dudzic at 201-314-2653 or



January 6, 2009
In a Quiet Rebellion, Parishioners Keep the Faith

SCITUATE, Mass. — There are sleeping bags in the sacristy at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church and reclining chairs in the vestibule, but no one here gets too relaxed. “Please be ever vigilant!” a sign by the door warns, and the parishioners who have occupied the church since it closed more than four years ago take it as seriously as a commandment.

St. Frances was among dozens of churches that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston decided to close and sell in 2004, not least because of financial turmoil made worse by the abuse scandal in the clergy. But while most churches closed without a fight, parishioners at St. Frances, a brick A-frame on a wooded hill, and at four other churches rebelled.

For 1,533 days, the group at St. Frances has taken turns guarding the building around the clock so that the archdiocese cannot lock them out and put it up for sale. They call it a vigil, but by now it is more of a lifestyle.

“It’s much more of a living 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week faith,” said Margy O’Brien, 78, a parishioner since St. Frances opened in 1960. “My generation of Catholics have paid, prayed and obeyed, but you get to a point where you’ve had it.”

The archdiocese will not provide priests to most of the vigil churches, and it has removed most statues, altar cloths and sacred objects. It changed the locks at St. Frances in October 2004 but unwittingly left a fire door open, an error the parishioners call a miracle.

The archdiocese has not tried to evict the parishioners or shut off the heat and electricity. Three of the five vigil groups have appeals pending with the Vatican, but if the appeals fail, as is likely, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, may run out of patience.

“They can’t go on for infinity,” said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “These have to end at some point, but how, I don’t know.”

In the meantime, some 100 parishioners at St. Frances take turns sitting in the church for hours at a time, including overnight shifts in the sacristy, where the priest once dressed, and the reconciliation room, where confession was heard.

The vestibule serves as their living room, and the sanctuary, with houseplants on the altar and finished jigsaw puzzles on a back pew, as a place to meditate or even walk laps. Bobbie Sullivan, 57, who determined that 19 times around the sanctuary is a mile, said she planned her weeks around a sign-up sheet by the door. Her husband died in 2006, and sleeping alone in the reconciliation room, under an electric blanket, does not bother her.

“It’s warm, it’s pretty, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful,” Ms. Sullivan said of the church, where she passes the time writing cards, quilting and paying bills. “It’s a great place to get your work done.”

The closing of parishes in Boston in 2004 was the leading edge of a wave of closings around the country. In announcing the closings, Archbishop O’Malley said they were brought on by a shortage of priests, dwindling attendance and money problems.

There are now 292 parishes in the archdiocese, down from 357 in 2004, Mr. Donilon said. But the archdiocese is spending $880,000 a year to maintain the five vigil parishes and nine others that it cannot sell yet because of civil suits or appeals to the Vatican.The Council of Parishes, a group that formed to advise the vigil parishes, has helped similar efforts in New York and New Orleans, where two churches have been occupied since October. It also helped parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Adams, Mass., start a vigil last month. Peter Borré, the group’s leader, said the Boston vigils were “the longest-duration, broadest-based passive resistance movement” ever by American Catholics.

Much of the St. Frances parishioners’ anger comes from the sense that their church was unfairly singled out. Unlike others, it was in good physical condition and financially solvent, said Jon Rogers, 49, a vigil organizer. He and others say they believe the church’s location doomed it. When it closed, the property had an assessed value of $4.4 million.

“We have 30.3 acres of prime coastal realty here,” Mr. Rogers said. “It’s a land grab; they need the money.”

The archdiocese, which in 2005 announced an $85 million settlement with victims of abuse by priests, originally hoped to make some $200 million from the sale of closed parishes. So far, proceeds have fallen well short of that.

St. Frances has stayed in good condition since the vigil started, but other churches are not as lucky. In Everett, an industrial city north of Boston, St. Therese Parish has gone without water or heat since its boiler broke in October and the archdiocese refused to repair it.

The parishioners keeping vigil there — a group of about 35, according to the leaders — sit in pews wrapped in blankets, use a rented portable toilet and collect rainwater for their plants.

“I just don’t want to give in to it,” said Mary Tumasz, 83, who spends several hours a day at St. Therese after attending Mass at another church. “I’m praying and hoping, but it doesn’t look good.”

The other churches with vigils are Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston; St. Jeremiah in Framingham; and St. James the Great in Wellesley.

Many of the St. Frances holdouts describe being transformed from passive Catholics to passionate, deeply involved members of a spiritual community that they say could be a model for the future of the troubled Catholic Church.

“You would think because there are fewer and fewer priests that the various archdioceses would welcome a new configuration,” Mrs. O’Brien said. “Let the lay people do everything but the sacramental.”

Since St. Frances has no priest, parishioners lead services that include everything but consecration of the host. On the Sunday before Christmas, about 50 parishioners attended a service conducted entirely by women, including two who distributed communion. The hosts had been consecrated elsewhere by a priest described by Mr. Rogers’s wife, Maryellen, as “sympathetic.”

Parishioners also hold suppers in the vestibule and meet Tuesdays to say the rosary. They raise money as a nonprofit group, donate to charities and open the church to outsiders seeking comfort or repose.

“Lots of troubled people have come through, and all they need, really simply, is someone to connect to,” said Karen Virginia Shockley, 43, who participates in the vigil with her two teenage sons. “Usually there’s an older person here who will sit down and just listen to you.”

The Rev. Thomas Foley, the archdiocese’s cabinet secretary for parish life and leadership, expressed regret in an interview about the timing and abruptness of the closings. Boston Catholics were already reeling from the abuse scandal, Father Foley said, and the closings were “too much, too soon.”

In an open letter in 2004, Cardinal O’Malley called the closings “the hardest thing I have ever had to do in 40 years of religious life.”

Father Foley said the vigil keepers should “peacefully let go” and “consider that there are welcoming parishes around them that will benefit” from their presence. But members of the St. Frances group said they hoped to meet with Cardinal O’Malley this month and would propose buying the church with donations.

Some parishioners have grown so disenchanted with the Catholic Church hierarchy and so fond of the vigil routine that they cannot imagine returning to the old way.

“I cannot go back to the priest and the vestments and that, I always felt, prince-of-the-church approach,” said Mary Dean, 61, who keeps vigil at St. Frances at least four hours a week. “I’ll always be a Catholic, but I may not be able to worship in the mainstream Catholic Church.”

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