163-3 Politics

Trans-Pacific Partnership: More Thumbs Down

The negotiating process for trade agreements like the TPP includes a Labor Advisory Committee. In early December, that committee issued a report on the recently concluded TPP negotiations:

While the TPP may create some limited opportunities for increased exports, there is an even larger risk that it will increase our trade deficit, which has been a substantial drag on job growth for more than twenty years. Especially at risk are jobs and wages in the auto, aerospace, aluminum and steel, apparel and textile, call center, and electronic and electrical machinery industries. The failure to address currency misalignment, weak rules of origin and inadequate state-owned enterprise provisions, extraordinary rights provided to foreign investors and pharmaceutical companies, the undermining of Buy American, and the inclusion of a labor framework that has proved itself ineffective are key among the TPP’s mistakes that contribute to our conclusion that the certain risks outweigh the TPP’s speculative and limited benefits.

As part of our work to create this report, the LAC reviewed our NAFTA report from more than 20 years ago and the history of trade agreements implemented since that time. What is stunning is that despite the mounting evidence that neoliberal trade and globalization rules do not create shared prosperity and inclusive growth, and despite the fact that some of NAFTA’s biggest supporters, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now agree with us that corporate-driven trade doesn’t work for workers, we are essentially having the same debate as we had regarding NAFTA.


Chicago Political Economy Group

The latest issue of CPEG Notes is online. In this issue, Prof. Joseph Persky examines the limping U.S. economy, Mel Rothenberg’s International Note examines the European refugee influx and economic crisis, Ron Baiman talks labor and the fight for $15, Bruce Parry talks trade and the TPP, and finally Bill Barclay dives into high frequency trading and a court case regarding “spoofing”. Download it HERE. (PDF)

Partial Victory at Kohler

The UAW and Kohler in Wisconsin reached an agreement that retains a two-tier wage structure, but radically closes the gap between the tiers. For details, there is a report at The Guardian.


People, us lefties in particular, often claim that Chicago is the most segregated city in the county, and after a time, it comes to seem like a cliche. Is it really true? At least among major metropolitan areas, it most certainly is. And not simply by race but by income as well, according to the Brookings Institute report that you can view HERE.

Green Convention

The Illinois Green Party will be holding its state convention in Chicago on March 5. For more information, CLICK HERE.

163-3 DSA News

Talkin’ Socialism

Episode 59 — Reproductive Justice — Recorded December 12, 2015.  Chicago DSA’s Peg Strobel interviews three activists from the Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF): Brittany Mostiller-Keith, the Fund’s Executive Director, and CAF board members Lindsay Budzinski and Sekile Nzinga-Johnson. They discuss the history of the CAF, how it operates, and most especially the concept of Reproductive Justice, including ongoing efforts to repeal the notorious “Hyde Amendment” that prohibits any Federal funding of abortion. The proposed legislation, HR 2972 sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee of California, would insure abortion coverage under Medicaid and other insurance programs.

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In Solidarity with Worker Centers in China

A new statement by the DSA National Political Committee notes:

Local political authorities in the Guangdong Province of China have launched a wave of repression against worker centers, their staff and activists.   These small NGOs have played a significant role in assisting internal migrant workers to exercise their basic rights, to fight for wages and social benefits to which they are legally entitled.  For example, the Panyu Migrant Workers Service Center in an industrial district of the city of Guangzhou assisted workers at the Taiwanese-owned Lide shoe factory to receive the compensation and social insurance in arrears they were owed when their factory was relocated.  The Panyu Center also assisted forty local sanitation workers obtain legally required severance pay from their former cleaning contractor and to sign new contracts with the new contractor.

Now the director of the Panyu Center, Zeng Feiyang, and one of its key worker activists Zhu Xiaomei have been arrested and placed under criminal detention on charges of “disrupting public order.”  Zhu Xiaomei, who played a leading role in assisting the Lide Shoe and sanitation workers, has even been separated from the one-year-old daughter that she was breastfeeding.  Several other staff and activists from four worker centers remain in detention, held incommunicado and refused their right to see lawyers.


DSA in the News

At Counterpunch, Ben Burgis used DSA as a resource for clearing up a right-wing misconception about socialism.

Stopped for a man-on-the-street interview by the Chicago Tribune’s Oak Leaves, Tom Broderick mentions DSA.

163-2 Democratic Socialism

Chanukah and Class Struggle
At Religious Socialism, Ilan Fuchs writes:

Chanukah is probably the best-known Jewish festival among non-Jews. In the spirit of a multicultural society it is mentioned along side other holidays celebrated in America. Unfortunately it is mostly presented as a Jewish opportunity for consumerism, one more reason to spend money many people do not have and give presents to people who do not really need or want more things.

It might be a surprise for many readers to learn that the celebration is commemorating a very different sentiment — that of freedom from oppression — both from external enemies but also from internal economic oppression….


163-2 People

Lou Pardo
by Bob Roman
Lou Pardo has died at age 96, according to an obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times. He passed away on December 6. The obituary stressed his achievements as a voter registrar, his devotion to labor causes, and his past membership in the Communist Party. It does not mention his more recent membership in DSA or that he was a 1994 Debs — Thomas — Harrington Dinner awardee. (The UAW’s Carole Travis was the other awardee that Dinner. Barbara Ehrenreich was the featured speaker.) It also doesn’t mention his role in getting Herman Benson (Association for Union Democracy) involved in championing union democracy. (See Rebels, Reformers & Racketeers, by Herman Benson, page 4; I recall Carl Shier saying he called Benson after getting a call from Pardo.) When Lou Pardo accepted the award, Clinton may have been President, but we were very much in the depths of the conservative winter. “People change,” Lou insisted. Yes they do. Thank you, Lou.

163-2 Ars Politica

Losing the Narrative of Their Lives
At Working-Class Perspectives, Sherry Linkon argues:

If we want to understand the social and cultural patterns fully, I would argue, we must consider not only the material conditions or social structures that shape economic experience but also how people interpret those experiences and construct their identities in response to them. We would do well to attend not only to statistical evidence but also to stories, which provide insight into how people experience and make sense of economic and social changes. This is the kind of insight that literature can provide. By representing the social world through the stories of individuals, fiction, especially, can help us understand what large-scale change looks and feels like on a personal, subjective level.

The long-term effects of deindustrialization — what I refer to as its half-life — have generated not only measurable social patterns like rising death rates but also a growing body of literature. If you want to understand the “lost narrative” of contemporary working-class lives, you might well begin with these books.


163-2 Politics

Robin Hood Tax in Europe
At Democratic Left, Bill Barclay writes:

On December 8, ten nations announced an agreement on “core issues.”  Two in particular are important because, while they may seem technical in nature, they are key to an effective FTT.

First, the proposed FTT will apply on a “gross” rather than a “net” basis. That is to say, it will apply to all trades that occur, not just to those still in effect at the end of the trading day. This is a major defeat for the HFT constituency.

Second, in order to counter various tax avoidance tactics, the FTT will apply if at least one of the parties to the trade is a resident in one of the ten participating countries and/or if the asset traded is issued in one of these countries.

In addition, it looks as if the proposed FTT will apply to both the assets themselves as well as to derivatives based on the assets. This is very important, since it eliminates another way of avoiding the tax.


What Contract Do Police Deserve?
At The Chicago Reporter, Adeshina Emmanuel begins:

In the fallout from the release of the Laquan McDonald video, Chicago’s top cop lost his job. But the police officer who shot the teenager 16 times is still employed.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is captured on police dash cam video shooting McDonald, can thank the police union.

The Fraternal Order of Police contract with the city shapes how Chicago handles police misconduct allegations, disciplines rank-and-file officers, as well as when the city pays legal costs for police officers accused of wrongdoing. While activists have long called for changes to the contract, many people in local government have not been eager to take on that fight — until now.

With cries of reform ringing louder than before and a federal investigation of the police department, aldermen are demanding changes to a union contract that breezed through the City Council in 2014.


Praying for Godzilla
At Mayoral Tutorial, Don Washington writes:

So here you are listening to radio ads and watching media coverage where Bruce Rauner… of all people is painting Mike Madigan as Satan… which could be true. But then you think: hold up, isn’t Bruce Rauner Satan? Then it dawns on you that all the answers to this epistemological conundrum are bad and you cry out to a suddenly absent God: “In the name of all that is holy are we to understand that the only thing standing between Illinois becoming Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey or Kansas is Mike Madigan?” You know that moment in every good Godzilla film where you have to switch gears from can the heroes stop Godzilla to can Godzilla stop the aliens and their pet monster from destroying Tokyo? You know, the place in the film where everyone is hoping that after kicking a lot of furry or scaly ass Godzilla will lose interest and just wander back into the ocean? That’s where we are now… That would mean that Mike Madigan is Godzilla… I swear to God following politics is going to make me take to the drink.


Attention Should Be Paid
At In These Times, Joe Burns argues that the strike in Wisconsin at the Kohler faucet plant deserves more than cursory attention:

Two thousand workers at the Kohler faucet plant in Wisconsin have been walking the picket since November 16. Such a strike would have been commonplace decades ago. Nowadays it is a rarity. Major strikes of over 1,000 workers are few and far between. Even rarer are open-ended strikes at an industrial plant.

Today’s battered labor movement no longer thinks of watershed strikes; we are so beaten down and used to defeat that no particular loss is seen as critical. And sadly, it’s not as if labor must win this particular battle to survive. The truth is labor has learned to live with defeat. But a more fundamental point is at stake: Labor must redevelop the ability to win this type of strike if we are to have any chance of survival.


At Jacobin, Joel Feingold provides an account of the history of heroic struggles for labor rights at Kohler HERE.

Blue to Red, Red to Blue
At FiveThirtyEight, Aaron Bycoffe and David Wasserman present a clever online tool wherein the user can play with the demographics of the 2016 election. Devout marxists might not like the assumptions implicit in the demographic categories, but check it out HERE.

163-2 DSA News

Tabling for Sanders
DSA members have been active circulating petitions to get delegates committed to Bernie Sanders on the Democratic primary ballot, particularly in the 7th Congressional District where folks from GOPDSA have been particularly active. On December 13, they organized a table at a west-side Chicago flea market. The table was staffed by DSA members from across the Chicago area. For more photos, CLICK HERE.

Fighting Back Against the Rising Tide of Nativist and Racist Reaction
Adopted by the DSA National Political Committee on December 1, the statement begins:

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) call on all progressives across the United States to join together in a broad coalition against the rising tide of racist and nativist politics in the United States. The nativist fear-mongering by one Democratic and 27 Republican governors about the alleged threat posed to U.S. residents by Syrian refugees (themselves often fleeing ISIL violence) and undocumented immigrants obscures the true violent threat to our collective security: nativist, racist and misogynist terrorism.


Solidarity with the Muslim Community
A statement by the YDS Coordinating Committee, adopted December, 2015, begins:

History has shown us that fear-mongering and hatred towards certain minority groups is nothing new when it comes to political elections. Various societies over different periods of time have shown this to be true. A notable example is the hatred directed towards the Jewish community by the Nazis in Germany. Unfortunately, this year has proven that fear-mongering tactics are not for the history books but something we, as Democratic Socialists, need to fight in our current political climate.


DSA in the News

At the Wall Street Journal (page 1!), Peter Nicholas wrote about the DSA National Convention, including quotes from several members, including Chicago DSA member Julie Allison. Peter Nicholas also posted a Wall Street Journal blog entry about Bernie Sanders, DSA, and democratic socialism, including a video that summarizes the entry. It being The Wall Street Journal, after all, the articles (particularly the video) were picked up by multiple sites.

Joseph Schwartz discussed the role of socialism in mainstream U.S. politics, including the Sanders campaign, and mentioned DSA in passing at In These Times.

At The Nation, Liza Featherstone recommends the Young Democratic Socialists as one of several possible cures for the violent.

Coverage at Hot Indie News of a Dump Trump / Refugees Welcome demonstration included a photo of the DSA contingent.