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“Right to Work”

20 Mar

chi-fight-for-15-20130424Right now unions are under attack. Wisconsin just signed the “Right to Work” Act. There are 25 “right to work” states. Illinois’ new Governor Bruce Rauner is attempting to make Illinois 26.

“Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing.  By undermining unions, so-called ‘Right to Work’ laws would weaken the best job security protections workers have – the union contract.

A ‘right to work’ law is a state law that stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement – also known as a union security clause – that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them.  Right to Work laws say that unions must represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not.  In other words, ‘Right to Work’ laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership.

‘Right to Work’ laws aren’t fair to dues-paying members.  If a worker who is represented by a union and doesn’t pay dues is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly, time-consuming legal process.  Since the union represents everyone, everyone benefits, so everyone should share in the costs of providing these services.  Amazingly, nonmembers who are represented by a union can even sue the union if they think it has not represented them well enough!” AFL-CIO

So why are unions even needed? “CEOs Earn 331 Times As Much As Average Workers, 774 Times As Much As Minimum Wage Earners. With CEO compensation analysis season in full swing, the AFL-CIO released data this morning stating that American CEOs in 2013 earned an average of $11.7 million–an eye-popping 331 times the average worker’s $35,293.”Apr 15, 2014 Forbes Magazine.

In the meantime minimum wage workers are fighting for a $15 minimum wage. Unions have supported this “Fight for Fifteen.” No longer are the jobs at McDonalds and other minimum wage jobs for students trying to pick up a few bucks. They are for all of those people who have lost jobs during the recession and because of companies moving their companies overseas for even cheaper labor.

Are these laws really “right to work” or “right to exploit.” Remember that they also called the MX nuclear missile the “Peacekeeper.”

SOA/WHINSEC Name Change — Same Shame

23 Jan

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“Stemming from our Franciscan values and the fact that all life is interconnected, members, vowed and non-vowed are encouraged to be engaged in ministry with those living on the margins of society and struggling to live with dignity.” 26th General Chapter Congregational Commitments 2013

“The 2013 November Vigil energized the movement. The weekend gathering was vibrant and featured creativity in many different facets. Many participated for the first time in the annual vigil. On Sunday, November 24, thousands walked in a solemn funeral procession and commemorated those who have been killed by SOA/ WHINSEC graduates and U.S. militarization. The procession transitioned into an upbeat celebration of life and resistance, after Oscar Romero’s last sermon was blasted through the stage speaker system, and a banner with our message, and thousands of soap bubbles crossed over the barb-wired fence. The vigil weekend included for the first time a Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) on Saturday morning. As part of the PMA, hundreds of movement activists gathered in small groups and discussed questions about the role of nonviolent direct action in the context of an increasingly militarized prison system. SOA Watch activists are taking the discussion back to their communities. The questions that we are focusing on are: is there a need to shift to other creative ways of continuing the tradition of direct action? What are your thoughts on nonviolent direct action and prison witness considering both our movement’s history and today’s context? The other main question focused on our grassroots organizing strategies. The conversations continue and we are looking forward to everyone’s input.” SOA Watch

I went to the SOA Watch gathering and demonstration the weekend of November 22-24,2013.  It was amazing to see the diversity of age, gender, race represented by those present for this weekend.  Nonviolence was present throughout the weekend by the demonstrators.  Infiltration of movement by plain clothes police officers was readily apparent.  Some were the same officers who infiltrated the group last year and then testified at the trial.  We  counted about 10 officers, but the commander suggested there were quite a few more.  A police helicopter buzzed the group (flew at about 100 feet above) causing some to duck from fear of being hit and causing some of the vendors to run after t-shirts that were now flying around the concrete.

When does national security become a pretext for attacking freedom of speech?  SOA Watch has filed a Freedom of Information request with the Columbus Georgia police to get any files they might have on the demonstration/demonstrators.

Our message remains the same.  Shut Down the School of the Americas by any name.  It has caused the grief and torture of our brothers and sisters in Latin and Central America for too long.   This continues and so shall we continue to protest it.  Our faith demands this of us.

For more information go to soaw.org

No human is illegal — the case for immigration reform

11 Nov

blog_country_immigrantsNow that the Government shutdown has been lifted and the debt ceiling crisis has been averted, President Obama has insisted that immigration reform become a priority for this Congress.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for the following elements to be included in any immigration reform law:

The reform

  • Provides a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country;
  • Preserves family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system;
  • Provides legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States:
  • Restores due process to our immigrant enforcement policies;
  • Addresses the root causes of migration, such as persecution and economic disparity

There have been some myths that have been raised regarding undocumented immigration.

Immigrants cost the country billions of dollars in services.

According to the Cato Institute: the average immigrant pays $80,000 in their lifetime in taxes than they collect in government services.

http://cato.org/pubs/handbook/hb108/hb108-63.pdf

Undocumented immigrants bring crime into the country

In reality, while the undocumented population doubled between 1994 – 2005, violent crime dropped by 34%. Property crime dropped by 32%.  This is based on documentation gathered by the American Immigration Council.

There have been over 2 million deportations during the Obama Administration.  On November 6 and 7 people in major cities in the United States called for an end to these deportations and the passing of the Immigration Reform Bill.

November 13, 2013—Feast of St. Frances Cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. Honor her feast day by contacting Congress calling for Immigration Reform.

  • Join Justice for Immigrants’ national Call-to-Congress   855-589-5698 and tell them it’s time to fix our broken immigration system. Feel free to use this script:

I am from City, State, Congregation /Community and as a person of faith, I support genuine immigration reform. I urge the Representative to persuade House leadership to take up immediately  reform that creates a path to citizenship and reunites families. Give us reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Pass genuine  immigration reform before the Thanksgiving recess!

Through all of our efforts, let us remember Francis’ words in the Canticle of Brother Sun:

“Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.”

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

20 Dec

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“Thus says the Lord: In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping!

Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:15)

We are all mourning for the children of Newton, Connecticut; the children of the southside of Chicago; the children of war.  It took me a while to write this, because I with you am mourning for those poor families.

There ,of course, needs to be a time of mourning. Then there needs to be a time of action.  The killing must stop.  These massacres are becoming way too frequent and sickeningly similar. The answers are not simple, but we need to start somewhere.  We cannot throw our hands up in despair and do nothing.

Do we really need assault weapons and the munitions that go with them to hunt?  When will we recognize that there needs to be access to care for mental illness?  We need to look at the violence being promoted through our media and video games. Adults need to take more responsibility to try conflict resolution rather than violence/war.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious sent out a response to the Newton Tragedy that includes some action steps.  (www.lcwr.org)

  • Let your elected officials at every level of government know that you favor responsible gun legislation.
  • Encourage congressional  leaders to support a federal ban on the sale, transfer, importation and possession of assault weapons and the munitions that go with them.
  • Ask for funding for robust care for those with mental illness.
  • Address the growing use of violence as a means of entertainment.

On December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, there is a nationwide effort to remember the 20 children and six adults killed in Newtown.  Motherhouses, monasteries, churches and town halls are being asked to ring their bells at noon EST and pause for a moment of silence for those who have lost loved ones.

Together we can make this world a safer place for all of our children and with the followers of St. Francis we ask God to “Make me an instrument of Your peace”