The price and the results. From 1995 to 2000, unions increased their payments to the AFL-CIO by 25 percent, reports David Moberg in the Nation (September 3). The payoff may have been more in politics than in organizing: “While the number of nonunion voters shrank, labor boosted the union household share of the vote steadily from 19 percent of the electorate in 1992 to 23 percent in 1996 and 26 percent in 2000….Federation officials believe that they opened Al Gore’s eyes by exposing him to workers who had suffered reprisals from their bosses because they tried to form a union and consequently plan to ‘Algorize’ every politician who seeks union support.”
I’ll have the diesel dressing on the side, please. In a June report entitled “Food, Fuel, and Freeways,” the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University used USDA figures to calculate the distance produce shipped by truck to the Chicago terminal market from within the continental U.S. had come. “Produce arriving by truck traveled an average distance of 1,518 miles to reach Chicago in 1998, a 22 percent increase over the 1,245 miles traveled in 1981.”
Ultimate multiculturalism. One booth at next weekend’s Eschikagou Powwow on the Midway at the University of Chicago will house the Black Indian Society, whose vice president, Sultan Latif, is quoted in an August 20 university press release: “Many, many African Americans and Hispanics have Native American ancestors, who are documented in letters, photographs, oral history or other evidence. We may not have come here on the same ship, but we’re all in the same boat.”
In a sentence. Veteran organizer Lew Kreinberg on the CHA’s Plan for Transformation, under which the agency is demolishing most public-housing high-rises and replacing them with mixed-income developments: “It’s in the best Chicago tradition of grabbing the land and moving the poor around like they were Indians on roller skates” (from the Community Media Workshop’s “Newstips,” July 4).
Wanna sell Great Lakes water to the world? Oops–we’re already doing it. “The state of Michigan took a fateful step Wednesday, Aug. 16, when it gave the Perrier Group of America permission to pump 200 gallons of groundwater per minute from central Michigan and sell it nationwide,” write Patty Cantrell and Andrew Guy in the “Michigan Land Use Institute News” (August 20). Perrier will soon beef up its take to 400 gallons a minute, which is more than a Canadian company would have used in its 1998 proposal to haul water in tankers to Asia. Cantrell and Guy write, “The fact that Perrier will take water out of the ground and sell it in individual bottles, rather than pump it out of the Great Lakes and haul it in tankers, makes little difference. Policy makers and scientists know that Great Lakes groundwater and surface water are the same resource.”
Are God’s messengers losing the rat race? “The [Protestant] clergy’s place within the professional middle class is becoming increasingly tenuous,” writes Matthew Price in the Chicago-based Christian Century (August 15-22). It’s not that preachers are getting paid less; it’s that doctors and lawyers and teachers are getting paid more. Price cites statistics on the mean household income of married males aged 45 to 55 with graduate degrees in the 1990s. Doctors made $188,630, lawyers $155,801, teachers $90,260, and clergy $54,044. He concludes, “The reward structure of today’s churches is creating a few well-endowed livings for ambitious pastors, and a mass of poorly paid positions for pastors with independent means. If this continues, the American church will resemble not so much the first-century church of the apostles, but the 18th-century Church of England.”