170-4 Politics

Raise the Minimum Wage

The stagnant minimum wage in Illinois, stuck at $8.25 per hour, is holding back our economy. More than 40% of all workers in Illinois earn less than $15 per hour, including 46% of women, 48% of African Americans, and 61% of Latinos. Raising the wage floor in Illinois to $15 per hour would benefit the future of 2.3 million workers. It would be a historic economic stimulus for our communities, from Carbondale to the Quad Cities. $15 would revive our middle-class by keeping billions of dollars in the Illinois economy, putting more money in working families pockets immediately, and creating tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs. EVERYONE would benefit.

SIGN THE PETITION. (Legislation is pending introduction, more HERE and HERE.)

Keep Illinois Working

We count on public service workers in state government to keep us safe, protect kids, care for veterans and people with disabilities, protect the environment, help those in need and much more. Child protection workers, caregivers, correctional officers, emergency responders and other public service workers have a right to a voice on the job through their union. They use that voice to advocate for all of us — for better public services, for fair treatment on the job, and for fair pay and affordable health care. But Governor Rauner is making extreme demands that would harm public services, strip the rights of workers to have a voice, and drive down their middle class standard of living.

State employees are willing to do their part. But in January, Rauner walked away from the bargaining table and has refused to even meet with the union ever since. Just like he’s holding the state budget hostage, Rauner walks away whenever he doesn’t get his way.

Tell the governor to drop his unreasonable demands, come back to the bargaining table and negotiate fairly with the public service workers who keep Illinois working. SIGN THE PETITION.

Trump’s War on Dissent

Noted civil liberties attorney Flint Taylor writes:

On the heels of the much ballyhooed meeting that an obsequious Donald Trump conducted this week with local law enforcement officials from across the country, the president titillated the gendarmes with a threat to destroy — COINTELPRO style — an unnamed Texas state senator rumored to be introducing legislation to prevent law enforcement from financing police operations by seizing arrestees’ property before they have been found guilty in a court of law. On Thursday, Trump followed up with an executive order that gave the recently confirmed Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions a carte blanche to bring down the wrath of the federal government on anyone who is unfortunate enough to have a confrontation with a cop, a prison guard, a border patrol officer or who knows who else outfitted with a badge and carrying a gun.

At first blush, the order could be seen simply as a wildly unpopular president playing macho man to our nation’s police departments and their reactionary police unions. The unions have been chafing over being curbed by the previous administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ), which, by means of pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees, started to put the brakes on racist police violence. On its face, Trump’s new order looks like much bluster, with no enforcement mechanisms. Many of the provisions will need to be passed by Congress, receive funding and ultimately, pass constitutional muster — a hurdle that the authoritarian Trump administration, with its white supremacist hatchet men at the helm, seems unwilling to pay even a trifling respect.

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170-3 Politics

The U.S. Economy in 2016

At Democratic Left, Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel begin:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This phrase from Charles Dickens’ novel about the French Revolution, Tale of Two Cities, aptly describes the starkly different views of the U.S. economy in 2016 and progress (or not) in the years since the financial panic of 2008.

The best of times: by the end of 2016, official unemployment dropped from 5.0% to 4.7%, reaching what Federal Reserve Bank (“the Fed”) Chair Janet Yellen called close to “full employment.”  The worst of times: at his first press conference as president, Trump insisted that “there are 96 million [people] wanting a job and they can’t get [one].”  Since 60% of Trump voters believed that unemployment went up during Obama’s eight years in office, Trump’s claim makes perfect fantasy sense.

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It’s Only a Law, Unless…

There is actual enforcement. At the Chicago Reporter, Melissa Sanchez writes:

Several aldermen and workers’ advocates have launched a campaign to spur Chicago to toughen enforcement of its minimum wage and other labor ordinances with a new Office of Labor Standards.

The campaign comes just weeks after The Chicago Reporter found that enforcement of the city’s 2014 minimum wage ordinance has been largely ineffective. The city has investigated just a quarter of the 454 complaints filed since the ordinance went into effect in 2015, has recovered lost pay for only a few dozen workers and has yet to fine a single company for violating the ordinance. After questioning by the Reporter, the city said it would begin issuing fines.

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Rauner & the Legacy of PATCO

At Labor Notes, Chris Brooks writes:

For the first time in four decades as a union, 28,000 Illinois state workers could be going on strike, facing down a Republican governor who campaigned on the promise to force a showdown with the union.

In a 20-day vote that ended February 19, members from the 70 locals that comprise AFSCME Council 31 voted in favor of strike authorization.

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You can show your support for public employees and place yourself on a list to be mobilized by going to Keep Illinois Working.

The Alabamafication of America

Guess who really won the Civil War? At Harvard Political Review, Drew Pendergrass writes:

The lesson is simple: populism rises above all other concerns in Alabama. Demagoguery has a long track record of success in the South, and a politician who sufficiently channels that energy can say and do most anything — “grab them by the pussy,” for example — and still win by a landslide. George Wallace’s racism cost Alabama millions in economic development and outside investment, yet his populist appeal won elections. He served several nonconsecutive terms as governor, including one as late as the 1980s.

Trump won the election with the same flair as Folsom. With his cabinet picks and his agenda, it looks like Trump will govern like an Alabamian as well, with the classic strategies of a Montgomery politician.

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Be the Change Congress Needs

by Tom Broderick
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will be conducting an Advocacy Training in Oak Park. This training will be free of charge. It will be conducted by Maiya Zwerling, National Field Organizer for FCNL.

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM start and 9:30 PM end
Location: Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
RSVP: David Kelm 708.975.9300
For more information CLICK HERE or call Tom at 708.386.6007.

FCNL is a national Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest group that works to empower people like you and me to influence our national legislators (Representatives and Senators).

Person to person meetings with our elected officials and their staff are the most effective way to influence policy decisions. We all need to become more effective in influencing the policy decisions of our elected officials.

Time to hone our effective selves and move our elected officials to follow our lead.

170-2 Politics

Trump Mussolini

History Has Been Hacked

At Jacobin, Mike Davis provides an extended analysis of Trump’s victory. He writes:

Trump’s victory, of course, may turn out to be the ghost dance of a dying white culture, quickly followed by a return to Obamian, globalist normalcy or, conversely we may be heading into the twilight zone of home-grown fascism. The parameters of the next four years are largely unknown. Much depends on whether the Republicans succeed in incorporating the old industrial states of the upper Midwest into their mid-continental reich of solidly red Southern and plains states. In this case, their structural electoral advantages, as the National Review recently pointed out, might override the popular vote for another decade.

But whatever the scenario, the issue of the utmost immediate importance to the Left is whether or not the Sanders coalition, including the progressive unions that backed him, can be kept alive as an independent movement bridging the racial and cultural divides among American working people. An extraordinary restructuring of political camps, cadre, and patronage is taking place in an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty, but we need to understand more clearly whether 2016 actually reflects, or necessarily anticipates, a fundamental realignment of social forces.

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Combating this new era of “alternative facts,” a research team led by Dr. Dana R. Fisher, Dr. Dawn M. Dow and Dr. Rashawn Ray from the University of Maryland, College Park provides data-supported facts about participants at the Women’s March. Teams of 2 surveyed participants throughout the march (full details of sampling and methodology available upon request) to understand who was protesting and why. In total, 527 people completed the survey (representing a 92.5% response rate).

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Protest Chicago

by Jodie Eason
The rise of activism has made it difficult for action-minded people to find out where and when people are gathering to raise their voices. The volume of protest events is large and increasing, and it’s hard to find a comprehensive list of events in one place. ProtestChicago.com is an online guide to Chicago-area protest events, striving to consolidate all area protests into one easy-to-use website.

ProtestChicago.com accepts any protest and rally event notifications from progressive organizations and lists them in a simple, clean format. Events are displayed in chronological order, and include all the relevant details  — including links to organizers’ own promotional media –- with no analysis, opinion, or comment. Visit the site to find the protest nearest you or use the submission form to submit events that aren’t listed.

Content is limited to progressive public rallies and protests.

Anti-Inaugural Address for Daley Plaza

by Alec Hudson
Afternoon everyone. You all know why we are here. The American political system has given us one of the most depraved, corrupt, and bigoted leaders in our lifetime.

While there is no escaping this far-right reality that is ahead of us, the sight of all of us out here in the streets standing up for justice and liberation for black and brown people, working people, women, lgbtq people, immigrants, and all oppressed communities gives us reason to hope. No matter how bleak the future seems we all have a vision of a society beyond the evils of racism, capitalism, misogyny, colonialism, and white supremacy. Our visions may not look exactly the same, but it does not matter. We who believe in progress must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all, that we cannot have true liberation from economic  oppression without liberation for all communities suffering from the evils of racism, capitalism, colonialism, and white supremacy.

We in Democratic Socialists of America are  willing to work and struggle with anyone who has a vision of a future beyond these evils. We want to organize with those who do not care about loyalty to a party, particularly a party that talks progress but brings privatization to our public schools and black sites to our police departments. We want to organize for a system that cares about human need more than profit or property rights. There is much work to be done, but if we continue to stand and organize we will not only defeat the far-right but the very system of American capitalism, racism, homophobia, and oppression. We hope to see you in the streets. Thank you so much.

170-1 Politics

Demonstrations! Who Need ‘Em?

At Jacobin, Kenzo Shibata argues that the anti-Inaugural and Women’s Marches were important and best understood from the stand point of collective bargaining, specifically the tactic of a “contract rally”.

On Saturday, marchers showed their leverage over the president, essentially declaring themselves ungovernable. Trump clearly laid out an agenda of taking away the rights of every marginalized and exploited group in America while on the campaign trail. This was a preemptive show of force against that agenda.

The power of the march was in its diversity. Had only the “usual suspects” turned out — professional organizers, community leaders, political militants, and politicians — it could have been easily dismissed by Trump. Instead, it was a broad coalition, much like the most successful contract campaign rallies. The marches’ success can be measured in part by how it seemed to send the Trump campaign into a tailspin on its first full day in office.

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A Welcoming Illinois

On January 14, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights put together a platform of policies to make local communities, Illinois, and the United States a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants. They are planning a lobby day in Springfield on February 15. To find out more about the platform, to sign up to lobby, and more: CLICK HERE.

In west suburban Cook County, Oak Park and Melrose Park are considering ordinances making them welcoming communities. Greater Oak Park DSA helped turn out at the Oak Park Village Board meeting and provided testimony in support.

Know Your Rights

At South Side Weekly, Meaghan Murphy writes:

Chicago is often referred to as a sanctuary city, a city that protects immigrants. But as the August 5 raid showed, the specific parameters of those protections matter a great deal. Chicago protects immigrants through city ordinance, through CPD directives, and through public services. The primary mode of this protection is “non-cooperation”: the City of Chicago and its departments will not cooperate with federal authorities to arrest, detain, or deport undocumented residents. This is what the Welcoming City Ordinance ensures. But many in Chicago are demanding more.

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Poisoned at the Roots

At Religious Socialism, Adam Joyce writes:

The violence of U.S. life, from police brutality to entrenched economic exploitation, is regularly blamed on “bad apples” — individual aberrations in an overall just and good system. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States makes it plain that we are dealing with more than rotten apples or even rotten trees, but with an orchard rooted in white male supremacy and exploitative capitalism. This twisted orchard has been planted and sustained by many, but white Christians are some of its primary cultivators.

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A Left Vision for Trade

At Dissent Magazine, Eric Loomis outlines the problem and has some suggestions for solutions:

…we must seek to appeal to the concerns of working-class people who either voted for Trump or were so unmotivated by Clinton that they did not vote at all. Articulating a progressive line on trade policy, following the lead of politicians such as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Keith Ellison, while also seeking to guide those politicians with new ideas need to be major goals for the labor left. Ultimately, we must spend the next four years advancing a positive agenda for global labor that both rejects the neoliberalism that has dominated national debate for the past four decades and empowers workers around the world to fight for their rights.

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