Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yes on 30 ; No on 32

Rodolfo F. Acuña

I had a heated discussion with a friend this weekend on California Propositions 30 and 32, the draconian measures that will impact Latino and working people nationally. It surprised me that he was going to vote just the opposite of how most progressives are voting. I thought that “Yes on 30” and “No on 32” were no brainers and that he would agree.

My friend has always prided himself in being ideologically consistent and voting for the interests of the community. This consistency among progressives is fairly broad and, although we may disagree on priorities, there are certain core values common to individuals who claim to be progressive.

This is especially true of those of us in the social sciences where your writings define your consistency. It is also true in the field of law where it is possible to plot the behavior of justices. For example, you can determine the political preferences of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. It would have really been out of character, for example, for Justice Ruth Ginsburg to have voted for Citizens’ United (2010) or in the future vote to repeal Roe v. Wade (1973).

Labor asks for a No vote on Prop. 32.

By Duane Campbell
Many in labor believe that California Proposition 32 would be a near fatal blow to the California labor movement.
On the grounds that "special interests have too much power over government,"  conservative attorneys  wrote   California Proposition 32 to   ban direct contributions to California candidates by corporations and labor unions. It prohibits the collection of "political funds" from corporate employees and union members via payroll deduction, even if the employee or member voluntarily approves. Political funds include money spent for or against a candidate or ballot measure or for a party or political action committee, or PAC.
The proposition prohibits corporations and unions from using payroll deductions for political purposes, but of course corporations don’t use payroll deductions; they use their profits.  So, corporate donations would not be banned. Only unions would be affected by this ban.  It is a political bait and switch.  The proposition pretends to ban political contributions from both corporations and labor, and then they exempted the corporations.
If Proposition 32 passes, unions would lose much of their ability to organize and to fight back in politics. Learn more at

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Immigrants and Unions Work together to oust Joe Arpaio.

Jenny Brown  Labor Notes
October 19, 2012

Latino workers in the Phoenix area are fighting back
against the bullying sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe
Arpaio. They've registered over 34,000 new voters for
the November election.

The "Adiós Arpaio" campaign is part of a strategy by the
hotel union UNITE HERE to turn around Arizona's anti-
worker policies, in a right-to-work state where Latino
workers have only recently begun to flex their political
muscles. Maricopa County contains 60 percent of
Arizona's population

Organizers say they feel a seismic shift in the
political landscape. "I've never been part of something
historic before," said Lucia Vergara Aguirre, president
of UNITE HERE Local 631. The union has been growing,
representing workers at the Phoenix airport complex and
at several downtown hotels, and has other organizing
drives underway.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicana/o Studies

 Mass Education
By  Rodolfo F. Acuña

Ed. note; all that is said below also applies directly to the elimination of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Sac State in Spring 2012. 
A lot more thought has to be paid to the question, “why Chicana/o Studies?”  CHS are not the whim; they are not a fad. They are part of the historical reasons for the struggle of the Mexican American community to obtain equal protection.  If we forget these reasons, CHS will be minimized -- reduced to whims and fads, obfuscating why institutions of higher learning continue to exclude Latinos.

The failure to ask “why” perpetuates the myth that higher education is dedicated to a search for the Truth and open equally to all Americans. The truth be told, Chicana/o Studies is only tolerated because it is politically expedient. CHS are tolerated in many institutions because they placate Mexican American students.   

It follows a pattern: the administration concedes students one Chicana/o studies class in history – and call it Chicana/o Studies. If the academy feels generous, it gives the students an office, which they share with a faculty member. Often instructors are not specialists in Chicana/o Studies, and they are often not Mexican American – any name that ends in a vowel suffices.

Campuses have not taken CHS seriously; the academe is intellectually lazy, and has not questioned why the disparate departments have failed to integrate this important fund of knowledge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mexico's Labor Law Reform ?

A plan to gut labor protections has spurred unrest in Mexico's streets.
By David Bacon

Economics students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico march from the Plaza of Three Cultures to the Zocalo to protest a proposed labor law reform and to mark the anniversary of the October 2, 1968 massacre.
        MEXICO CITY-As the Mexican Senate tried to convene last week, unionists, youth protesters from the #YoSoy132 movement and social activists of every stripe blocked the chamber's doors, trying to prevent legislators from meeting to consider the reforma laboral. On October 2, tens of thousands marched from the Tlatelolco (Plaza of Three Cultures), where hundreds of students were shot down by Mexican Army troops on the same date in 1968, to the Zocalo at the city center. Reverberating chants signaled an equally massive rejection of this deeply unpopular proposal.
   The Mexican Senate has begun its 30-day consideration of a proposed reform of the country's labor laws. Its provisions will have a profound effect on Mexico's workers, changing the way they are hired, their rights at work, and their wages. Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of one of the country's most democratic unions, the Authentic Labor Front (FAT), calls it "a monstrous law."

Monday, October 08, 2012

President Obama creates monument to Cesar Chavez

Barack Obama dedicates National Historic Site to César Chávez

The historic visit today of Barack Obama to La Paz and the dedication of the Cesar Chavez monument as a national historic site is important.  It is covered in many news stories, including here:  
Unfortunately the writer Amanda Paulson  is poorly informed on the role of Chavez and the UFW on immigration.  She repeats the right wing view that Chavez was anti immigrant.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
Both CNN and USA Today cover the dedication today.
Among the more contested issues raised by Paulson  and by Barnacke  in Trampling Out the Vintage, is the  view of the UFW’s relationships with undocumented workers in  1975  period, the so called “Wet Line.   This is the same argument being  made today by various  anti immigrant militia groups , Tea Party advocates and  posted on Wikipedia . I tried for a couple of weeks to correct the Wikipedia source but others regularly changed it back.   The post cites sources, but the sources only acknowledge a conflict, they do not support the assertion of anti immigrant behavior.
I prefer Bert Corona’s.   Bert was a leading voice on immigration  issues and organized undocumented workers in the  organization Hemandad Mexicana.  He was also a friend of mine, and we worked together on immigration issues.  Although critical of the UFW policy, Bert  never took the highly destructive view that the militia advocates promote today.  There were disputes over issues, and errors were  made but remember the context, which Bert for one did.   The UFW was losing the strike  as strikers  were replaced by  with undocumented workers crossing a border and a picket line to work in struck fields. These undocumented workers, who knew little or nothing about the UFW or the long, violent, bitter and costly strike  they were breaking, were nonetheless  breaking a strike on  a  movement for justice and equality.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Chavez re-elected in Venezuela

Chavez Re-Election Continues Trend of Left Governments
Re-elected in South America
Economic Growth, Expansion of Welfare State Likely to
Continue for Many Years
Center for Economic and Policy Research
For Immediate Release: October 7, 2012

Washington, D.C.- Hugo Chávez' re-election to another 6-
year term shows that Venezuela, like the rest of South
America, prefers governments of the left that have
improved living standards and greatly reduced poverty
and inequality, said Mark Weisbrot [
], Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy
Research (CEPR) in Washington, D.C.

"Chávez is often portrayed as though he were from Mars,
but really the similarities between what he has done and
what his neighboring left governments have done are much
greater than the differences," said Weisbrot.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Establish a César E. Chávez National Monument

October 1, 2012

President Obama to Establish César E. Chávez National Monument
On October 8th, 2012, President Obama will travel to Keene, California to announce the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument. Years in the making, the monument – which will be designated under the Antiquities Act – will be established on the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz.  The La Paz property is recognized worldwide for its historic link to civil rights icon César Estrada Chávez and the farm worker movement. The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) as well as the home and workplace of César Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until Chávez’ death in 1993, and includes his grave site which will also be part of the monument.
“César Chávez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” said President Obama. “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history, and by designating it a national monument, Chávez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.”

From this rural headquarters in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California, Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country, from provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, to steps that helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides, to helping to establish basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers.

The National Chávez Center, in consultation with the United Farm Workers of America, the César Chávez Foundation and members of César Chávez’s family, offered to donate certain properties at La Paz to the federal government for the purpose of establishing a national monument commemorating César E. Chávez and the farmworker movement. This designation will represent the culmination of a process that has been underway for several years.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Faced with Police Violence, Thousands return to Spanish Parliament

Faced with Police Violence, Thousands return to Spanish Parliament

When Chicano history is ignored .

    An interesting  and valuable publication was released today, “Opportunities and Challenges for Youth Civic Engagement”, by the  California Civic Engagement Project of the Center for Regional Change at U.C. Davis and funded by the California Endowment, among others.  The Civic Engagement Project describes itself as  a “new, nonpartisan data repository  and research initiative for the State of California.
Thanks for the good work.  If these organizations are indeed interested in improving youth engagement, they should look at the 48% of  public school youth who are Latino or descendents of Latinos.   As CCEP Policy Brief #1 says,  “ the proportion of state registration that is Latino and Asian has remained far below the proportions of these groups in the state’s overall population. “  Now, that is not new news.  
 Public schools, more than any other institution, reach these students.  Unfortunately due to past decisions and current budget restraints, the public schools are not usually  promoting civic engagement.   How does that happen?
 When the 48.72 % of students who are Latino , and the 11.5 % who are Asian do not see themselves as part of history,  for many their sense of self is  marginalized.   Marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. School marginalization contributes directly to low level civic engagement.   It contributes to an nearly 50% drop out rate for Latinos and some Asian students.  An accurate history  would provide some students with a  a sense of self, of direction,  of purpose. History and social science  classes  should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.   Instead, the current history textbooks tell a fairy tale of what happened here in the Southwest.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Cultural Nationalism

 Cultural Nationalism ,Chicanocentricism, Cowardness
Take Your Pick
Rodolfo Acuña

One of the advantages of growing old is that, if you look back in time, you see patterns in behavior and events. You can anticipate that the boulder that Sisyphus is pushing up the hill will roll back.

This morning I clicked on to the Los Angeles Times and read that Gov. Jerry Brown -- who signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 -- vetoed the Farm Worker Safety Act, legislation. 

Many supporters were disillusioned. It was the 50th year anniversary of the United Farm Workers’ struggle to get farmworkers the same protections that many animals enjoy. Moreover, Jerry Brown was a favorite among Latino voters.  I remember two years ago a left-leaning Mexican American attorney saying that his priority was to get Brown elected and he would not contribute to anyother cause.

In the context of history, Brown’s flip flopping is no surprise. I remember in 1978 his opposition to Proposition 13 which contributed to destruction of California’s education system, only to join the sponsors once the initiative passed. Brown offered no moral leadership.  Brown also recently vetoed the Trust Act that would have limited the state's law enforcement's interactions with federal immigration enforcement efforts.  It would have been a bold answer to Arizona’s nullification of federal powers.

The adage to never trust a gringo or a liberal who comes speaking Spanish rings true.  Brown knows that the United Farm Workers do not have the same cache among liberals that they did in the 1960s and 70s so he relies on Mexicans and Latinos having a short memory and on liberals not caring enough about farmworkers and immigrants.  How many voters are there who care?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Austerity protests rock Spain

The excellent video that was here has been removed.
You can see it at

I had to remove the video because the sound engaged automatically each time a reader went to a blog post, any blog post.

Governor Brown Vetoes humane treatment of farm workers bill

 heat-related death
On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown rejected The Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act – authored by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) – that would make it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by jail time and fines, to not provide appropriate water or shade to workers laboring under high heat conditions. The governor also vetoed AB 2346 – The Farm Worker Safety Act – by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles). It would have allowed workers to enforce the state’s heat regulations by suing employers who repeatedly violate the law. The United Farm Workers strongly supported both bills. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez issued the following statement:

"The UFW is appalled at the governor's decision to deny farm workers the basic legal tools to protect themselves from employers who intentionally put their lives at risk by refusing to provide them with adequate water and shade despite the dangerously high temperatures. By vetoing AB 2676, the governor continues the policy of giving animals more protections than those currently offered to farm workers.