Friday, July 30, 2010

Alabama's SB 1070

Representative Greg Wren of the Alabama State House is planning to introduce a bill similar to Arizona's SB 1070 into the State House. Flood him with phone calls and emails. Here is his contact information

State House: Room 517-B
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7764 Home:

District: 7700 Wynlakes Blvd.
Montgomery, AL 36117

4213 Carmichael Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36106
Home Phone:
District Phone:
Fax: (334) 279-0959
(334) 395-0123
(334) 396-4787



Monday, July 26, 2010

Congress Can Defund the War

On the House calendar as early as Monday is a vote on a $33 billion supplemental bill to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

The Senate did not accept the House version. The House will now likely vote on the Senate version or something close to it.

(That means a pig with no lipstick, no poison pill with no sugar coating - no funds for teachers or Haiti relief - nothing but pure and simple funding for more war, more killing, more corruption, more war lords and drug peddlers - which equals fewer teachers, less healthcare, no aid to cities and state budgets, no new jobs programs, no infrastructure repair!)

This will likely mean something quite unusual: a straightforward vote in which "yes" means yes (a bigger war), and "no" means NO.

We will now be able to identify clearly and unambiguously the war supporters and war opponents.

Those who vote to fund the escalation will need to be punished and those who vote to stop the funding should be rewarded while they're home for the August recess and again at the polls in November.

And the closer we come to defeating the bill, the more we will have to build on as the peace movement joins with the labor and civil rights movements this fall for a giant march on Washington for jobs, peace and justice on October 2nd (with satellite demonstrations in San Francisco, Phoenix and New Orleans).

Our message is simple:

Vote "NO"

on funding this escalation of war.

Insist on a recorded roll call vote so the public can see who really wants to end the waste of lives and treasure.

Call (866) 261-4755 (toll-free)

or directly to the Congressinal switchboard at


Pull U.S. Troops Out of Pakistan

The House is expected to debate and vote on Tuesday on a privileged resolution (HCR 301) introduced by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul to remove U.S. forces from Pakistan. The resolution directs the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan. On this one we want to ask for Yes votes.

More info.

This is an important moment to keep calling members of the House of Representatives and to encourage friends, family and your organizations to do so as well.

Call (866) 261-4755 (toll-free) or

directly to the Congressinal switchboard

at 202-224-3121.

Urge your representative

to take the following steps:

* Vote NO on the $33.5 billion Supplemental for war spending.

* Support and vote for HCR 301 to remove all US troops from Pakistan.


Join the newly created Out of Afghanistan Congressional Caucus by contacting Mike Darner in Congressman Conyers' office.

Stop $33 Billion

for War Escalation


Labor & Money Clash in 15 Cities
By Carl Finamore
Submitted to Portside by the author
July 23, 2010

Contracts expire in 2010 for 45,000 hotel workers in ten
cities and, on July 22, several thousand supporters
demonstrated across the U.S. and Canada. This time Hyatt
Hotels were targeted because "Hyatt wants to take more
away and lock workers into recession contracts even as
the economy rebounds," according to the union, UNITE-

Simultaneous protests occurred in Chicago, Honolulu, San
Francisco, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Boston, Vancouver,
Toronto, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Rosemont, San
Antonio, Santa Clara and San Diego with nearly 1000
activists arrested after engaging in peaceful civil
disobedience blocking hotel entrances.

Apparently, there will be more to come of these
coordinated national actions involving thousands of
members and community allies. They are designed to keep
pace with the expiration of contracts in a growing
number of cities as it becomes clear hotel owners are
stalling negotiations everywhere.

This will allow more hotel union locals to link up with
close to 23,000 workers in San Francisco, Chicago and
Los Angeles whose contracts lapsed almost one year ago.

The union gave a full explanation for this important
escalation of tactics and strategy: "Nationwide, the
hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than
expected, with a hearty rebound projected in 2011 and
2012. [Yet], hotels are still squeezing workers and
cutting staff. More than 115,000 jobs in the hotel
industry have been cut since the recession began in
2008-46,000 of which have come just in the first quarter
of 2010 as the industry has projected recovery. While
this marks a trend involving several major hotel
companies, Hyatt is the starkest example."

How to Make Money

"I made my money the old fashioned way. I was very nice
to a wealthy relative right before he died," was
famously said by the colorful Malcolm Forbes after he
inherited from his father the equally famous magazine
carrying the family name.

But don't expect owners of the Hyatt Hotels, the
Chicago-based Pritzker family, where inherited wealth
has been passed along over four generations, to be as
brutally honest as the late Mr. Forbes. They
consistently rank among the top ten richest American
families but they may very well be justified claiming
their money was made in another equally reliable old-
fashioned way - by selling high and paying low.

This is certainly the mantra of one of their largest
family assets, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. It boasts a
portfolio of 434 properties in 45 countries and, with
$1.3 billion, had the most cash on hand of all it
competitors at the end of 2009. The Pritzkers have
always been good, very good, at making money.

They are definitely practiced at selling high. A
minority stake in the Hyatt sold in November 2009 and
earned the family just under one billion dollars. And,
they indeed know how to pay low. Only several months
earlier, minimum-wage replacements were hired to replace
the entire housekeeping staff at their three Boston

"I gave my body-everything I have-to that hotel, and
Hyatt disposed of us like we were trash," said Lucine
Williams, who worked at the Hyatt Regency Boston for 21
years, before being abruptly fired and summarily
replaced on August 31, 2009. UNITE-HERE reports that
Lucine's hotel made a profit of almost $5 million that

In fact, Hyatt management continually cuts staff and
increases workloads at all their hotels. As a result,
the chain had the highest injury rate for housekeepers
last year in an academic study of 50 major hotels
published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine
in February 2010.

Actually, since the late 1980s, the hotel industry as a
whole has steadily reduced employees. The union reports
that in 1988, nearly 71 workers were employed to service
100 occupied guestrooms. Last year, that number was down
to 53 - a 25% reduction.

This is why the industry is poised to make big profits.
Occupancy rates are increasing while the workforce is
not. "Expense reductions have been so dramatic at both
the property and corporate level that even a modest
pick-up in.growth should lead to outsized profit gains."
(Goldman Sachs, 8/9/2009)

How to Win Decent Contracts

The union is sending a clear message, stall negotiations
and there will be increased national coordination of
demonstrations, civil disobedience actions, and
boycotts. This is in addition to the strike weapon which
San Francisco Local 2, whose contracts expired in August
2009, has used both judiciously and effectively.

That local, with 9000 members, has a long history of
mobilizing both its members and community allies. It has
already successfully employed several three-day strikes
of targeted hotels, numerous lobby protests by workers
on lunch breaks and frequent "all-day, all- night
picketing" of eight boycotted venues.

Yet, at the same time, the union is conscious that
victory is more difficult fighting alone in one city, no
matter how bold or militant. Members are also very clear
about this from their experiences dealing with these
giant investment conglomerates who have continuously
rebuffed local efforts to achieve a decent contract.

"These are multi-national corporations, so, standing
together with workers in other cities is key to
defending our livelihoods," said Local 2 Press
Coordinator, Riddhi Mehta.

Thus, the stage is set for more national clashes between
the hotels and labor, in the most old-fashioned of ways,
with each mobilizing its own precious resources; one
measured in cash, the other in people. Only this time,
hotel workers have turned their adversaries' chief
weapon against them - more management stalling of
negotiations locally means more union allies coming
onboard nationally.

Carl Finamore was among 152 arrested in front of the San
Francisco Grand Hyatt as another 1200 marched around the
hotel. He is a delegate to the San Francisco Labor
Council, AFL-CIO, from Air Transport Employees, Local
Lodge 1781, IAMAW. He can be reached at