Saturday, May 30, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Targeted

Across America, Jobs with Justice activists are hitting local Chambers of Commerce on a national program designed to take support away from the anti-worker drive being coordinated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In Dallas on May 29, about six unions were represented, along with students and religious leaders, on a picket line outside the offices of one of the Chamber offices in the area. Coincidentally, they happened to be housed within the Bank of America building. BOA also has a reputation for working against workers' rights.

"Chamber of Commerce, no more lies," they yelled, "Workers have to organize!" The press packet explained that National Jobs with Justice charges the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with misrepresenting the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act. They are pushing the idea that it would "take away the workers' right to a secret ballot." As if the big corporations were suddenly worried about workers' rights!

The truth is that the Employee Free Choice Act would not cancel the old law, which does include a secret ballot election, as part of a process that can be dragged out for yearrs while the bosses intimidate and/or fire the union activists! The new Act would allow the workers to choose between the old law and the newer, faster "card check" method, which would organize unions quickly and without painful delays. Card check is available now, but is the bosses' choice, not the workers'.

Dallas City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano came to say some encouraging words to the picketers. She signed a petition card for the Employee Free Choice Act. Communications Workers (CWA) union members presented her with two books containing tens of thousands of petitions for decent contract negotiations with AT&T. CWA organizers talked to activists about their union's "adopt an overpass" program. In it, union activists display Employee Free Choice Banners from highway overpasses.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Palestinians Harshly Sentenced

Johnny Wolf, Hadi Jawad, and Valley Reed stand vigil at the Dallas Federal Courthouse

By Jim Lane

With the selection of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice, Americans are hoping that the Obama era will put an end to the drift toward judicial tyranny here in the “land of the free.” Those hopes were shaken when a Dallas judge pronounced harsh sentences on five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation on May 27.

If the 15 to 65 year sentences are carried out, some of the five defendants (Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mufid Abdulqader, Abdulrahaman Odeh and Mohammad El-Mezain) will never draw a free breath again.

The government’s argument, agreed to enthusiastically by editors of the Dallas paper (“Defendants got the sentences they deserved”) was that the Holy Land Foundation raised and sent money to Palestine via the Hamas organization, which they declared a terrorist organization in 1995. Defendants argued that their efforts went to ease the suffering of Palestinian children. Faithful Muslims are required to make charitable donations, and the pain of the beleaguered Palestinians is a worldwide scandal.

The first trial ended in a hung jury in October, 2007. During all phases of the legal battles, North Texas Muslims mobilized large demonstrations. A pro-Israel group also organized a big public event. The Dallas Peace Center made a strong commitment to defend the Holy Land Five. Activists stood at vigils at the Dallas Federal Courthouse day after day. They believe that the government’s pro-Israel vendetta was clear since 2001, when the U.S. Justice Department closed the foundation’s offices and froze their assets. Unrelated charges were brought against Ghassan Elashi concerning his export business. Apparently, his company had sold a few used computers to a business in Syria, and Elashi was sent to jail.
A heroine of the movement emerged as Elashi’s daughter, Noor, took up the cause in public and on the internet. Her comments are at and She says, “But with an appeal already underway, the defendants and their families know the legal fight is not over. Truth and justice will emerge triumphantly from this gloomy low point in American history.” Those who believe in civil rights and justice and America are looking toward the Supreme Court.

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