Tuesday, October 26, 2010

West Haven IWagePeace Walk creates interfaith unity

by: Henry Lowendorf
People's World October 26 2010

WEST HAVEN, CONN. - "During a time when fear of Islam misguides our citizens toward mistrust, hatred, and harm, act before something awful takes place." On October 24, three hundred participants heard that message from Bruce Barrett introducing the first I Wage Peace Walk.

Walking together by the West Haven, Conn. shoreline attracted Christians, Jews and Muslims. Sandwich boards along the path displayed sage advice from the three faiths along with photos and statements of peacemakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also displayed were stills from the award-winning documentary, "The Billboard From Bethlehem," produced by Barrett in 2007.

The video documents the experiences of Combatants for Peace, "a group of Israeli and Palestinian fighters, who after seeing each other only through the sights of guns, decided to lay down their weapons and fight for peace and justice for both societies using non-violent means." The documentary also shows the painting of a giant billboard on the West Bank by Israeli and Palestinian children.

At the furthest point of the walk is a garden site honoring veterans. There, after the approximately hour-long walk, the band "The Afro-Semitic Experience" played dance-to music. Following were brief talks from religious leaders. The theme echoed that no one religion has all the answers nor is responsible for all the violence in the world. Profits from the I Wage Peace Walk were slated to be donated to Combatants for Peace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

People Before Profits: Sound bites about jobs

by: Art Perlo
People's World October 14 2010

In my home state of Connecticut, I am bombarded with ads from businesswoman Linda McMahon. She has already spent over $24 million of her huge fortune in an effort to capture Connecticut's open Senate seat. McMahon's rhetoric echoes fellow Republicans around the country who say: "Government doesn't create jobs. Small business creates jobs. Cut job-killing government spending. And Cancel the stimulus."

This article will examine some of these sound bytes.

When does small business creates jobs?

The Republicans are fond of saying that small business creates 70 percent of all jobs. They don't tell you that small business is also responsible for 70 percent of all layoffs. That's the nature of small business. They start up and go out of business all the time.

Business, small or large, hire more workers when they have more customers. If customers are cutting back, business cuts back. It's that simple.

Don't take my word for it. The National Federation of Independent Business asked its members, "What is your single most important problem?" The answer was not taxes, not unions, not labor, not government red tape. The biggest problem for small business is poor sales -- not enough customers! And there are no customers because we are all broke, unemployed, drowning in mortgage and credit card debt.

When union's workers are able to win higher wages, their income flows back into the local economy. Yes, unions are good for small, local business!

But the fastest way to create jobs in the private sector is to increase government spending.

Unemployment compensation, food stamps and other safety net programs are immediately spent at the local supermarket, gas station, and other businesses. A study by the Congressional Budget Office found this kind of government spending among the most effective in creating jobs!

Government spending on infrastructure, education, and medical care helps the businesses that supply these industries. And government workers' paychecks are also spent supporting businesses in the local and national economy.

McMahon and Republicans are against government spending and against unions. So they are really against small business and small business job creation.

Is government spending evil?

McMahon's TV ads say, "Cut job-killing government spending." This makes no sense at all. Almost every dollar spent by the government creates jobs.

Seventeen percent -- more than one of every six workers -- is directly employed by the federal, state or local governments. And for every worker with a government paycheck, another worker is employed by a private business selling supplies or services to the government, or providing the things the workers buy with their paychecks.

Since January 2009, the economic crisis has caused state and local governments to cut employment by 397,000. Without the federal funds provided by the stimulus, those job losses would have been more than double. McMahon and the Republicans want to cut the stimulus, throwing hundreds of thousands of teachers, police and firefighters out of work, and forcing states and cities to raise taxes or cut services.

Job-killing deficits?

The final piece of economic nonsense is the claim that eliminating the federal deficit is the biggest priority, and that deep spending cuts will somehow help the economy. Most of the media accept this as self-evident. But it is wrong.

Linda McMahon, like most Republican candidates, refuses to say what programs she would cut to eliminate the deficit. But The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that the Republican plan to cut the Federal budget to 2008 levels would force a 20 percent reduction in non-defense discretionary spending. Biomedical research would be crippled. Local schools, already hard hit, would see federal funds disappear. Local taxes would rise. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would disappear. The Republican plan could easily throw the economy back into the free fall that President Obama inherited in January 2009.

Deficits don't kill jobs. Spending cuts kill jobs.

Creating Jobs

McMahon actually supports two big budget-busters: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Bush tax cuts for the rich. But the biggest cause of the deficit is the recession itself -- unemployed workers and closed businesses don't pay taxes. Spending for necessary, productive purposes today will help revive the economy and make it possible to cut deficits in the future.

Between two and five million people have jobs or increased hours today because of the stimulus bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But stimulus funds are running out, and those jobs will start to disappear in the next months. The best hope for jobs, both public and private sector, is extending and increasing stimulus measures. Enacting President Obama's $50 billion infrastructure proposal, and the Local Jobs for America Act which funds state and local governments, would be important first steps. That won't be possible if Republicans like Linda McMahon, with their job-killing priorities, win in November.

Friday, October 15, 2010


[Photo Above: Hundreds rally at Park Place Health Care Center in Hartford, Ct. today for the four hundred 1199 health care workers. They went out on strike six months ago.] Click on photo for full screen.


Our hundred members of District 1199, including nurses, nursing assistants, dietary, laundry and housekeeping staff began a strike on April 15, 2010 at four nursing homes operated by Spectrum Healthcare. Spectrum Healthcare is a local nursing home corporation, based in Vernon which operates six nursing homes in the state. The workers, a largely female and minority workforce, average between $13 and $14/hour for most positions after a few years on the job.

Contracts with 1199 covering Park Place Health Center (Hartford), Birmingham Health Center (Derby), Hilltop Health Center (Ansonia) and Laurel Hill Healthcare (Winsted) expired on March 15, 2009. Since the contracts expired, Spectrum has fired or suspended at least 14 union members at the homes with on recourse to arbitration.

[Taycha Trinidad, a worker at Park Place Health Center, with her two children on the picket line.]


Those firings, along with other forms of worker intimidation, are the basis for multiple Unfair Labor Practice Charges filed against Spectrum. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a formal Complaint and Notice of Hearing (similar to an indictment in criminal law) against Spectrum on August 19th stating that the company has repeatedly broken the law and is “failing and refusing” to bargain in good faith.

[Workers and their supports rally - "What do we want? -- CONTRACT!! -- When do we want?-- NOW!"]


Unlike any of the other nursing home operators with who 1199 has contracts, Spectrum early on threatened to hire permanent replacements for union members who went on strike. The Union made an “unconditional offer to return to work” on August 31. The employer responded by calling only a few workers back, once again violating the law. The case is going to trial and when an administrative law judge supports the Labor Board’s charges, Spectrum will be liable for workers’ back pay, back benefits, and interest. In the meantime, the Spectrum workers continue their daily picket lines in front of all four homes in protest of Spectrum’s unlawful behavior.

[Resident, David Zile joined the rally and is a frequent visitor to the picket line. He has been at Park Place since 2002. Patty Pickus, a worker on the picket line is standing with him.]


Since the struggle began there has been a tremendous show of support throughout the state for the Spectrum workers. Elected officials have helped deliver food and contacted the employer to urge a fair resolution; other unions and community groups have walked the picket lines and raised funds; family members and residents of the homes have publicly supported the fight and charged the employer with substandard care from replacement workers; clergy members have spoken from their pulpits to support the workers and attempted to contact owners Brian and Howard Dickstein.

A spokes person for the clergy, the Rev. Stephen Camp of Faith Congregational Church noted that “We are Christians, Jews and Moslems today, united, seeking justice and peace and in solidarity with Spectrum workers who are nurses, dietary workers, housekeepers, laundry workers and with those who understand that justice does lot mean just us, but finding a way for all of us. We not only rally here, but encourage one another by our very presence, to seek the presence of the divine in this struggle. If we stand together we will be together, if we stand apart, they will pick us apart.”

[Photo above: Carmen Boudier, president of New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 on the picket line.]


JOIN THE PICKET LINES ANYTIME BETWEEN 6 AM AND 12 MIDNIGHT at the following strike locations:

Birmingham Health Center, 210 Chatfield Street, DerbyCT
Hilltop Health Center, 126 Ford Street, Ansonia
Laurel Hill Healthcare, 106 East Lake Street, Winsted
Park Place Health Center, 5 Greenwood Street, Hartford


Send a donation to: The 1199 Strike and Defense Fund. Checks should be sent to: District 1199, 77 Huyshope Avenue , Hartford , CT 06106. The union has been on strike since April 15, 2010

Posted and photos by Tom Connolly