Carta abierta: para la dirigencia de SEIU, con respeto al contrato de los janitors.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 2, 2012 by unionstaffspeaksout

25 centavos de aumento la hora? En serio? Cuando supuestamente tienen 95% de los janitors sindicalizados en Denver y trabajadores en huelga de hambre?

Al tener 95% de los janitors bajo un solo contrato, los janitors tienen tremendo poder.  Tremendo poder.  Si los janitors se ponen de huelga laboral, eso le pondria alto a la producción y ganancias de casi un sector de servicio entero.  Eso no es cualquier cosa entonces deberíamos de examinar lo que esta pasando con este contrato.

Como se justifica una meta tan baja considerando esas condiciones de poder?

Veo las siguientes posibilidades:

1. El sindicato realmente no representa 95% de los janitors en Denver. Es decir: no tienen la fuerza que dicen y alguien esta inflando esos números.

2. Si realmente tienen 95% de los janitors organizados entonces la dirigencia no sabe como organizar, preparar, o usar el poder de los trabajadores para negociar mejores sueldos y contratos.

3. O es que: como son trabajadores inmigrantes, que importa la cantidad del aumento? Ya me *imagino la dirigencia de SEIU tratando de meterle un aumento de 25 centavos la hora a los miembros de Kaiser o las/los enfermer@s. En un contrato donde esos trabajadores representan 95% de la industria en que trabajan?! Dios guarde!

4.  La dirigencia les dijo a los miembros que esto es “lo mejor que se puede pedir bajo estos tiempos económicos.”

25 centavos de aumento? Cuando tienen 95% del sector de limpieza comercial organizada?  Algo anda mal.  Dirigencia, pueden explicar porque es esta la meta?

En solidaridad,

Ricardo “Ric” Urrutia

Intro to Corporate Research for Econonic and Social Justice presentation

Posted in How to find information on the bosses/corporations on February 8, 2011 by unionstaffspeaksout

This presentation is meant for people with zero background in corporate research. All I ask is that you know how to open up the internet on your computer…we’ll take it from there. It’s a free event and I’ll have research booklets available for $20 each (or in bulk for unions/organization/large orders). The research booklets will combine information on how to research along with some of my photography.

Please help spread the word by handing out the flier, coming with a friend/co-worker/neighbor, forwarding this blog entry, sharing the invitation in Facebook, etc.

…and you can also click here to download a .pdf version of the same flier.

SAVE THE DATE: “How To Research Corporations,” a presentation by Ric Urrutia

Posted in How to find information on the bosses/corporations on January 31, 2011 by unionstaffspeaksout

On Thurs, March 10th, at 6:30pm I will be doing a presentation on how to research corporations. 

The presentation will be held at the Denver Area Labor Federation, 140 Sheridan Blvd.  It’s free and open to all workers, union members, community members, non-profit/union staffers, social justice activists, and anyone else who simply wants to attend.

The point of the presentation is to teach people how to research information on corporations.  We will focus specifically on researching/analyzing corporate documents, finances, workforces, environmental record, worldwide facilities, unionization rates, industry research, etc. 

This is a beginner’s level presentation that will incorporate my labor photography and photo art.

Please bring your co-workers, union sisters/brothers, friends, family, neighbors, etc.

Crisanta Duran beats Mark Thrun in Democratic HD5 primary, gets her website hacked

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout

Alright folks, here’s the article from the Westword.

What can I say?  My new house district representative.  sigh…

So…I haven’t blogged in a really long time.  …certainly not for lack of interest but capitalism’s latest little hiccup has affected all of us and made me refocus my priorities for a bit.  As much as I’ve been burning to write, I, like millions, possibly billions of other people have had to hustle a bit harder these days to make ends meet.  Blogging has therefore lost priority points. I think and hope I’m through the worst of it so I’ll be blogging again some time in the near future.  Only difference: I’m letting go of Union Staff Speaks Out and will be blogging from a new site.  This blog has offered a good taste of what’s to come though.

I think the biggest mistake I made with Union Staff Speaks Out was that I painted myself into a corner with regards to subject matter.  In short: I felt everything had to focus around labor and I had to be careful to not come across as though I was the voice of union staff.

Stay tuned, thanks for reading, and congratulations Crisanta Duran.

United Airlines Picket, Denver International Airport

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout

I spent about 30 minutes talking with United Airline workers at Denver International Airport today.

Here’s their situation, in their own words.

Here’s United Airlines’ Annual Reports (which the company files with the Security and Exchange Commission) from 1996 through 2009. I encourage any/all airline workers to go through these documents. There’s TONS of info in there that’s useful for organizing members and bargaining more strategically. Information on profits (“net income”), debt, properties, assets, number of workers, number of union workers, etc., etc., etc.

What I learned today:
-Workers took two concessionary agreements because of United Airlines’ filing for bankruptcy.
-Workers are working at the rates they had in 1994 (again: as a result of the concessionary agreements)
-The company said the workers would regain their benefits/salaries once the company’s financial situation started to improve. The workers haven’t seen anything thus far but they’ve seen an increase in the pay of the executives of the company. …always charming.
-Some workers lost all (or a lot of) their pensions after the company filed for bankruptcy. Some of the workers I spoke to had been working for United for 10, 20, 30+ years. One flight attendant told me of an 81 year old flight attendant who was basically too broke to retire.

I normally don’t publish photos of people blinking or with their eyes closed but in this situation it just tells you how strong (and cold) the winds were at Denver International Airport. If members of the Association of Flight Attendants would like to add, please do so with the comment section.

if you would like more information on how to research information on United Airlines, please look at the “how to research” blog entries on this blog.  I use Safeway as an example to teach people how to research corporations but the basic idea on how to research is the same if you’re looking up info on United.

In solidarity,
Ric Urrutia

Response from Luis Espinosa (answer to question 1 on Crisanta Duran)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout


In a previous blog I posed the question: “Question 1:  In your own words, why should the constituents of House District 5ive vote for Crisanta Duran?” to Luis Espinosa, campaign coordinator with the United Food and Commercial Workers. In case you’re tuning in for the first time, the conversation started here.

Luis, to acknowledge your downfall comment: I hope you don’t encounter retaliation for your sincerity.  Especially from the UFCW.  If someone from the UFCW or the community takes exception or disagrees with what you’ve written, they’re more than welcome to come on here, address the merits of your arguments (in comparable tone), and defend their position.  That’s what this blog is for.

Regardless, Luis, you’re welcome to continue contributing to this blog.

Below is his response.

-Ric Urrutia


Here is my response to question 1. Sorry if it has taken my long, but I have found myself pretty busy lately. The second question which is about the labor movement and the UFCW (very lenghty subjects) will come hopefully by tomorrow night. I will also probably will not be debating the first question much further for the same reasons as you.

On Crisanta Duran:

First off, there is an unspoken question that needs to be addressed. You didn’t ask, but it is fair to assume that you and your readers might be wondering why I am such an outspoken defender of Crisanta. Supporting her is easy if you like her politics, but defending her out loud in this poisoned climate is something few people are willing to do. Let me clarify, I have never received any benefit from my friendship with Crisanta or her family. I have always maintained a healthy distance from Local 7 and its leadership. In fact, I only set foot in the local twice (and for less than two-hours each time) during the time that the Duran’s were in charge: one was during the ICE raids, and what I saw them do was consistent with what a labor leadership that cares about workers should do, regardless of where they come from or how they got here. The local provided representation for workers detained and submitted a writ of habeas corpus in federal court to make sure the Federal government wouldn’t violate workers constitutional rights. I was part of that effort, and assisted attorneys at the detention center in Aurora. The important thing is that there are many who came to the Duran’s to seek financial support for their projects. Several causes and organizations found in the Duran’s and the former leadership at UFCW Local 7 the legitimacy they needed to receive other endorsements, contributions, etc. I’m not referring only to politicians, but to very progressive causes and organizations that past leadership supported to the benefit of our community. Now, it seems, their silence is notorious. Many might even be reading this blog, still shaking under their beds feigning amnesia.

I have responded to your anti-Duran, anti-labor movement attacks on principle. You know our organization is not monolithic and more than one person in our midst might prefer that I stay silent. It could be the case that being outspoken about this issue now could be my downfall. Who knows, and I don’t care. Like you, I also have options. At the very least, I made a living as a Medical Lab Tech between the ages of 18 and 26, before I came to this country, and I am still able to describe the enzymatic reactions of the creatin kineasa and its use as a marker for myocardial infarction. The point is, whatever can be said about the mistakes of the former UFCW Local 7 leadership, there were many good things they accomplished and supported, and if everyone else has run for the hills, then I’ll be happy to be the one stepping up to the plate, to point out the positive, even at the expense of sleep, personal time, and career stability. You have always been critical of the Duran’s and for whatever this criticism does for you, I respect that. I do not respect those who were Crisanta’s friends only while the weather was fair.

So now, with regard to question number one, let me give you a two-fold response; first half principled and second half pragmatic: First, Crisanta has the right values and politics that I believe we need in a legislator at the State Capitol. For the work that must be done, I trust she would carry the right principles to not only be accountable and push for progressive legislation but do it aggressively and have the power to lead her own democratic colleagues. Her current boot camp training notwithstanding, pressure can only make her best suited to receive and apply pressure as a legislator. Second, the alternatives are not better. Have you done your homework on the other candidates? You cannot hold Crisanta to the highest standards without using the alternative candidates and officeholders as a frame of reference. Crisanta’s preparation and experience outshines that of many sitting representatives. Crisanta has already lobbied for issues and people that I hope you can agree are friendly to people we care about (i.e. living wages, good benefits, locked out workers, immigrant students, etc). Can you honestly affirm that Crisanta’s principles are inconsistent with the kind of representation we need in the State Capitol to move an agenda not only for workers, but for many progressive issues that affect our different communities? Comparatively, she has already done more than any candidate who is running for HD5. If you disagree with me, I will probably lose you from this point forward, but we have agreed to disagree, so I will continue.

Having established, in my view, that she holds the right values, the next issue at stake is her “scandalous” nature. Let me state my position about the Local 7 election and be very clear: the membership spoke and with whatever numbers, they decided not to give another term to the former Local 7 leadership. I will always respect that. My support for Crisanta is consistent with my support for the membership and my commitment to stand with them and face the challenges that lie ahead for UFCW workers. However, scandal, we both know, is a social construct–a man/woman made phenomenon. Granted it does not happen in a vacuum. Scandal needs incentive and momentum. With this being said, there are two things that are brought up often about Crisanta: whether she deserved the job she had, and whether she took advantage of that job in detriment to the UFCW membership. Both questions are fair, but from my perspective, all facts have not been heard as much of this situation has played out by and for the mainstream press and the lines have been bloodied with emotions and faulty accusations.

First, Crisanta was not doing just any kind of job, she was legal counsel for the union and in order to be able to do that, she had to hold a law degree from an ABA accredited school of law, which incidentally, she possesses. Did she have an unfair advantage at getting that job than anyone walking in from the street? Most likely she did, and there is no shortage of lawyers out there trying to get a job. Was that advantage detrimental to members? I don’t think so. I am a strong believer that, whenever possible, rank-and-file members should be in decision-making positions in unions. Of course, this is not a position where the pool of rank-and-file applicants is big. She had to litigate, undertake legal research, lobby, help draft policy, etc.– tasks for which she had the skills and was properly educated.

And so we get to the last question that is implied in your challenge: did she take advantage of her position as legal counsel for the union in detriment to the membership? Let’s take in parts.
Crisanta’s salary was comparable to what many attorneys make in many other unions and companies. Yes, some attorneys make less than that, and there are attorneys that make more. You can get me started about the legal priesthood and the niche they have created in society for themselves if you want, but the fact is that in this place and time attorneys are compensated as a very specialized trade. Furthermore, when confronted with the reality of a potential strike, she gave back a big portion of her salary to the strike fund. That doesn’t make her a saint, but it makes her actions consistent with the values she represents.

As for the accusations of misused funds: there was a complaint filed with the Labor Department, and so far they have not been able assert that any funds were misused. If they had, they would be pursuing at the very least fines, but at worst prosecution. Is the investigation over? It depends who you talk to, and the government bureaucracy is notorious for taking its time. The fact is that if there were any irregularities in the government audit, they would have already issued charges. Anyone can make accusations, yet the presumption of innocence remains a very standard value of any civilized society. Demonizing Crisanta over this very serious allegation without merit does not advance any worthy cause. It is mere character assassination without formal charges or prosecution.

Finally, you can argue that the whole two party system is broken, that nothing in the current electoral system advances the cause of workers, and that the relationship between labor and the democrats is not what gives workers power. That would be a valid argument. However, the debate would be a different one, and it would not be fair to center that on Crisanta either or her candidacy for HD5. It would require a more global analysis of what it is really needed to bring real social change.


How to research candidates, elected officials, and government spending

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout

The purpose of this blog entry is to show you where you can find information on campaign contributions to political candidates, elected officials, and government spending/budgets.  If you don’t live in Colorado, it’s still a good idea to read through the information I present on Colorado.  It offers the basic ideas on how you can research your own state/city/municipality, etc.

…you see i have this sinking feeling that when political candidates get elected with the campaign contributions of corporations/CEOs there might be an expectation to “return the favor”.         …just a suspicion.

…please forward this blog entry to teachers, state workers, city workers, or any type of government workers.  especially if said workers are union members and have to negotiate with their department heads and other government bureaucrats.

also please forward this blog entry to anyone in the community who wants to look up the financial information on their elected officials.  This is public information and can/should be freely used.  i encourage you to be creative…this blog has already shown you how to research information on corporate CEOs, no reason you can’t connect the dots for us.  : )

let’s begin.

Colorado’s elected officials and candidates

One of the most recognizable names in Colorado politics: [Denver] Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, recently decided to run for governor.

Say we wanted information on campaign contributions to candidate Hickenlooper.

In general, you’d start by looking at the website of whatever government agency maintains information on the campaign contributions for the level of office a candidate is running for.  In this case, in Colorado, if we want information on gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper we would look at the Secretary of State’s (SOS) website.  …the governor’s office is the “executive body” of the state which means we need to look at the records held by a state agency.

If we wanted information for a federal-level official (e.g. McCain/Obama/Bush, Congressional representatives) we would use a federal agency.

We would specifically look at the part of the SOS’s website that concerns itself with campaign finance reports [please click here].

Click “search database”.

[NOTE: If you don’t know what government agency holds this information for the candidate you’re researching, it’s a good idea to google “campaign finance report” in combination with your state’s/city’s/county’s/district’s/etc name.]

So if researching Hickenlooper’s campaign contributions you’d start on this page [please click here].

…and click on “Candidate Search”.

Click here to get down to brass tacks.

I usually search by the candidate’s name or the committee name.  A committee is usually created by a candidate to serve as the organization or group of people in charge of reporting campaign contributions.  A committee’s name is usually something like: “Hickenlooper for Colorado” or something simple like that. Committees are also formed to fund ballot initiatives if you’re ever researching that.

Go ahead and type in the names of your house/senate district representatives, current candidates, past/present governors, etc.   If you need the names of your state legislators you can find those by clicking here.


Government spending/budgets

If you want information relating to how any level of government spends its money, you definitely want to check out the government office(s) with the word(s) budget and finance and in it.  Nowadays you can find A LOT of information online.

So, for example, if you’re looking for information on how Boulder County uses its money you’d Google something like “boulder county budget office” and find this link.

If you wanted information on the budget for the Colorado Dept. of Education, you’d google something like “Colorado Department of Education budget” and find this linkDenver Public Schools would have a separate budget office which you can see by clicking here.

You can find the Denver City Council’s budget office by clicking on this link.

If you wanted information on the US military budget you would google something like “US Department of Defense budget” and get this link.

As with corporate research, you always have more credibility when you’re using the official source.  In this case, it’s the department of government that maintains the type of information you’re looking for.  Don’t understand the financial lingo?  Get one of these books.

So we’ve found the types the sources that house information on budgets, spending, etc.

Now the job of a researcher to break it down, make sense of it for us and put it together in an interesting way.  For example: Is there a connection between campaign contributions and how our elected officials vote?  If so, what is that connection and who is involved?  How many years has this been the case?  At what cost to constituents?

I hope readers find this useful and that they watch their candidates and elected officials more closely with the information being provided.

In solidarity,

Ric Urrutia

Meeting, Talking, Sharing with Crisanta Duran.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout


I received the comment below late last night. Because of its length and depth I’ve posted it in its entirety without any editing.

I wasn’t half way through reading it for the first time before I knew exactly who wrote it. The clues are abundant. I’ve contemplated all sorts of creative responses but in the end, the author is correct in stating:

“the Labor Movement is bigger than names or people.”


…but please note that people carry ideas in their heads. …and i feel that the role of the media (this blog included) is to challenge, question, debate, and critique the ideas of our candidates, elected officials, union officials, community leaders, and activists (myself included).

A couple of worthwhile notes though…when the author of the comment refers to “Hector” that would be me. Hector is my first name. Also: I have no problem meeting with Crisanta Duran.  My condition: pen, notepad and camera in hand, everything on the record, separate checks if dining.  As an alternative: I can post questions on this blog for Crisanta to answer and have the final, uncontested response.  Being a fan of transparency I prefer the latter.

Finally: please note that towards the bottom of the person’s comment a reference is made to “temp Reps” (i.e. temporarily employed union representatives).  I’ll let you, the readers, contemplate the contradictions (if any) of a union maintaining a temporary workforce as part of its staff organizers/representatives/researchers, etc.

In solidarity,
Hector Ric(ardo) Urrutia

p.s.  I don’t know how often I’ll be posting on this blog. If you’re enjoying this so far and want to stay updated, I encourage you to subscribe via email and share the blog with friends, family, union activists, Facebook friends, etc.  At the moment I have 12 published entries and nine draft entries (on their way).  I’m trying to move away from the subject of Crisanta Duran because I’m trying to avoid a “you vs. me” thing.  Stay tuned either way.

p.p.s.  If I’m not posting on this blog I’m:

-Working on peoples’ photography: (this is how I now make my living: a freelance, card-carrying union photographer for hire)

-Posting on my photo blog:


-Playing music: Next Debajo del Agua show is on Saturday, March 13th at Herman’s Hideaway in Denver.  Click here for full details.  We only have a few shows scheduled before the band disbands so check us out!

…so simply stated: when I’m away from this blog, I’m not on union break.

; )

Hector, I’m not really sure why you have such a vendetta for Crisanta! You only worked there for a couple of months and I doubt she ever did anything to you. You should do your homework! Crisanta has been begged and asked for years now to run for office. She instead worked at Local 7, fighting for the Members, fighting for EFCA, fighting for the Lock-Out Bill, for better contracts and organizing for the Local. She worked hard to help the Members educate themselves. She’s also been a very vocal community activist for lots of the same reasons. And what we have all told Crisanta, before and after of when the internal election was over, was that when certain doors shut, other doors open. Crisanta is running because she cares, not for some hidden reason like you think. When you say Crisanta is scandalous, not debatable, no one knows exactly what you mean by that. Crisanta has not been convicted nor proven of any wrong doing. Yeah, we saw the channel 7 report. As a fellow HD 5 resident, and another advocate who claims to care so much about the Labor Movement, you should really get to know Crisanta. You should meet with her, talk to her, share your views with her. As one of the most influential labor leaders of our time once told me, the Labor Movement is bigger than names or people. It’s about the idea that people will stand up and fight for each other. It’s about people who can rally people together to fight against the powerful corporate agenda of greed. Its not about us trying to take out the people who can best fight for the working class. Crisanta is not a fake. She is not out for her self. She inspired me to realize that we the people have the power to unite and fight against corporate power. She made me realize that we, us, together are stronger than any one interest. Your intent is great Ric, but your focus is wrong. Young people like us, like Crisanta are the solution. It’s about standing up for what is right. You should really meet Crisanta and talk to her, you would realize, like thousands of people have in Colorado, that she really is willing to fight for working families. You would also realize that she is one of the most genuine and caring people that the Labor Movement has seen in a long time. She stood her ground during the Lock-Out bill battle down at the Colorado State Capitol, she continued to fight for what was right for all working Colorado. She’s continuing to do that now with her bid for HD 5. Ric, if you really cared about the Labor Movement and what that movement means to millions of people and families across the U.S., you would realize that it’s not about family names or status. You would realize that it’s about people who care enough to stand up and fight. Crisanta will stand up and fight. It’s what she has always done. It’s what she has inspired and taught me to do. We need to stand up and fight FOR each other, not against. Ric, I admire you and I really do wish that you would have made it on staff with Local 7. I don’t think you were given a long enough test run. It’s probably more than true that 1 out of every 10 temp Reps make it down there, but that is more of a statement about what we are up against than rather of who we are as the Labor Movement. Give Crisanta a chance. Someone like her (a person who actually wants to and is capable of fighting for the Labor Movement) only comes around once in a long, long time. The media, the Union, the government isn’t the Labor Movement. WE are the Labor Movement and we have to move together.

In Solidarity,



Second exchange with Luis Espinosa…now we’re talkin’… : )

Posted in UFCW Local 7 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout

Readers, I’m very excited to continue posting the exchange between Luis Espinosa and I.  For those of you who just tuned in: Luis is a campaign coordinator with the international of the United Food & Commercial Workers…you probably have to read the previous three blog entries to understand what’s happening here (starting with the one on Crisanta Duran).

I’m glad things have gone in this direction.  As I stated in my previous blog: from this point on I’d like to drop the rhetoric and focus on the ideas that are important for workers, our unions, the labor movement, and class consciousness.  I look forward to Luis’ response.

In solidarity,

Ric Urrutia

p.s. Luis, thanks!


Well Ric, your questions are fair and the tone is inviting. I think I can give it a shot at articulating a reasonable response to those questions without falling for the temptation of the “colorful” diatribe, even though some of your answers invite more questioning. You might not agree with my take on things, but we can have a more thoughtful discussion about it. You are correct that as a voter of HD5 you have the right to have an answer question number one. I’ll indulge you with a response to question number two, even though you are not someone to whom I might own an explanation on those matters.

On your attempt to portray me as a fat cat, if you had found something outrageous in your search of the LM-2s you wouldn’t have cut me any slack. I am not as high of an “official” as you want to believe. I make a decent living and work hard to earn it. It is not martyrdom. There is a lot of work to be done to organize and improve working conditions. And in that vein, I hope you will give some leeway in the timing of my response. It is pass 1AM in the Midwestern city where I am currently training workers to organize; and tomorrow we have another long day of workshops/home calling. Yes, we do it on Saturday and Sunday because that’s when you find workers at home (besides… you guessed right, after 5PM!). It will take me a couple days to post, but right now I’m exhausted. I’m sure your many readers will be patient.

And I am flattered that you think I have a way with words, mostly because as a recent immigrant I learned your native language as an adult. If I may correspond the nicety: Crisanta tells me your band is actually pretty good, and I have this weird tendency to believe her ;-)

Lastly, you can tell your friend “A” that now I will friend her on Facebook. I have nothing to hide and I’m proud of who I am, where I come from, and where I am heading, it was not personal if I rejected her request. Her curiosity (and yours) may be genuine, it was only because a friend of hers used my personal profile information to get nasty with me, and not even with witty sarcasm, but just plainly insulting.

Hasta entonces…

Response to Luis Espinosa, UFCW Int’l Campaign Coordinator

Posted in UFCW Local 7 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by unionstaffspeaksout

For starters, Luis has offered the following correction: “correction – contrary to what you are propagating, I’m not the current, present, or future Organizing director of Local 7. I’m a campaign coordinator with the International.”

Everybody make note of that?  Great.

We now know exactly what Luis’ official title is.  He’s employed by the International as a campaign coordinator.  Why a campaign coordinator with the International would choose to use such inflammatory rhetoric while corresponding with a blogger that’s showing readers how to look up his salary is beyond me.

I’d first like to address Luis’ concern about me critiquing Crisanta Duran’s candidacy.  Readers, if you recall, he was a fan of me “moving on” from all things Duran/UFCW.  Allow me to offer my reasoning:

Reason 1: Crisanta is scandalous.  This isn’t subject to debate.  No one out there can say the politics surrounding her and the Duran family is a sea of tranquility.  No one.  Some people argue the Durans are helpless victims of a series of misunderstandings and attacks whose name is cleared with every investigation, others allege they’re corrupt, unethical, and even violent.

The Denver Channel reports:

The UFCW 7 associate legal counsel was Duran’s daughter, Crisanta Duran, 29. She stepped down from the position recently to run as a candidate for Colorado House District 5, to replace term-limited Rep. Joel Judd.  Two weeks before she stepped down, the executive board of Local 7 voted to automatically endorse any staff member who runs for public office and to give the maximum donation allowed by law to their campaign. That means Local 7 donated $4,250 to her campaign, according to the report.  Duran and his son and daughter were members of the Local 7 executive committee.

simply stated: this article tells us Crisanta took the money and ran.

…and granted, Denver Post is corporate media, but everything I saw in those three months as union staff at Local 7 offers nothing but credibility to the paragraph above. the campaign contribution mentioned is of course on top of her six digit income from working at Local 7.

Reason 2: Crisanta now wants to be the elected representative for my house district.  Get it?  I.  Live.  In.  District.  5ive!  This woman wants to represent me.  Luis, I have every basic democratic right imaginable to publish a critique on a candidate who wants to represent me.

and finally:

Reason 3: The readers of this blog wanted a response from the blogger about Local 7’s de-endorsement of Crisanta.  Luis, I created this blog from scratch.  I now have readers.  I earned that.  What’s the trouble?

How am I being illogical in posting a blog entry on this subject given those conditions?

Crisanta is running for public office after losing a scandalous union election involving 17,000 members in the midst of concessionary bargaining.  Did you (or she) not expect critics?  Did no one within Crisanta’s politically savvy circles advise her that this stuff might come out and weigh against her during her candidacy?

…And now it pains me to say the following: Luis, you’re right about several things.

Let’s start with the Westword article.  [non-Denverites: the Westword is our city’s alternative news weekly and I was interviewed at length for this article].

I was disappointed with the way the Westword short-changed me on quotes.  However, my frustrations were short-lived because the lesson learned became: “don’t hate the media, become the media.”  …and here we are.  Debating labor politics with a UFCW International campaign coordinator in an increasingly public forum/blog.  I thank you for your sympathies but things are going in a good direction.  You see, Denver (as you demonstrated) has a small activist community and our exchange has tripled the number of hits on this blog.  I admit, I’m kinda stoked about this.

This blog in and of itself speaks to another issue you raised.  Namely me approaching you about contracting work with the UFCW.

You’re right again.

I did contemplate this.

But you left out the most important detail: I never approached you.  : )

In the end I decided to start this blog and not pursue another union staff job.  The thinking behind this decision: this way I could speak as freely about union bureaucrats as I’d like to without the threat of getting fired.  Your response to my previous blog entry shows why I wouldn’t be able to work for more cats like you without the looming fear of termination.

Oh, and you’re right about something else: I don’t have the energy to work 15 hours a day for a bureaucratic, scandalous, undemocratic, Democrat-endorsing, nepotistic union leadership.  I’m lucky enough to have options.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks.

You had a couple of questions for me.

1.  If I’m reading through the satire correctly, the essence of your first question revolved around my motivations.  My motivations are very simple.  I want to do my part to spread class consciousness amongst the working class in the US, Denver, Colorado, etc.

I want working people in the US to realize that they’re a sleeping fucking giant situated right in the belly of the beast. Class consciousness is the biggest threat to a brutal economic system that has stayed in power by promoting racism, sexism, nationalism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of reactionary ignorance.

And that band you poked fun at? To me, that band is a huge part in accomplishing that task. It’s done more in accomplishing said motivations than any union staff job I’ve ever had.

My motivations have always been sincere, Luis. Even if my whole “obsession” with class makes me stand out a bit.

…and if you or anyone in Colorado is reading this, you should make it a point to come to our final shows.  Check out Debajo del Agua on Facebook or Myspace for show dates/locations.  Our main website has our music.

2. Your second question is admittedly intriguing and I hope people read carefully:  “Notwithstanding the beautiful rhetoric for building worker power, how would you build that power from 9 to 5?”

After informing us that he’s okay working 15 hours per day we can only deduce that in Luis’ mind a “9 to 5” job is what?  Lazy?  Unmotivated?  Ineffective?  Insubordinate? Insufficiently martyristic?

Whatever the case may be Luis, 15 hour work days for union staff make absolutely no sense.  Unions are the institutions where the working class figures out how to make a “9 to 5” possible and you’re speaking about it like it’s straight-up undesirable.  How are you any different from a boss that wants to squeeze more labor out of fewer workers to save in labor costs?  I don’t admire you for working 15 hours a day.  If anything the IWW saying:

“Over time is scabbing on the unemployed!”

is a much more inspiring battle cry to wrap your head around.  It forces you to think: how can a staff organizer/representative do her/his job with equal effectiveness in an eight hour period?  The answer isn’t “we can’t” (we’re not a bunch of No Se Puede‘s).  The answer is in: 1.  getting rid of the ugly pics of union bureaucrats in our unions’ magazines and using that space to promote labor history, shop floor strategies, and rank-and-file organizing,  2.  figuring out (yes, the dialectics at work) a structure and distribution of labor/resources that addresses 15 hour work days.

Why?  Because union staff needs time for family.  Union staff needs rest.  Union staff needs time to recharge after taking orders from overpaid bureaucrats who pay only convenient lip service to issues of social justice.

Luis, I’ve sincerely answered your colorful questions to the best of my ability.

…now please take the time to answer mine.  I figure: you’re an outspoken guy.  You’re definitely reading this.  You obviously know how to send comments my way.

Question 1:  In your own works, why should the constituents of House District 5ive vote for Crisanta Duran?

Question 2: Luis, you’re a well paid, high ranking union official.  You put in a lot of hours.  You have a way with words.  Tell us: what is the plan?  How will you, a high ranking official within the UFCW do your share to build the power of the working class?  How will we obtain better contracts?  How will we win more grievances?  Organize new members?  How will the UFCW finally organize Wal-Mart (a campaign Change to Win committed itself to several years ago)?  How will we raise consciousness around economic and political democracy by way of our unions?   …assuming democracy is desirable of course.

If you answer these questions, my vow to you and the readers of this blog is to refrain from rhetoric and colorful attacks from this point forward.  In other words: we’ll both be forced to address the merits of all arguments, nothing more.  A little on the drier side, I know, but labor is due for a serious conversation.

In solidarity,

Ric Urrutia