Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

June 6th, 2000 12:00 AM

The Awful Truth From Cork to Minneapolis via Flint

Dear friends,

Wednesday night (tomorrow, today, depending when you read this letter), June 7, on our show, "The Awful Truth," we are airing the segment that many of you had a hand in with your letters to the INS -- the fate of the 8 Mexican housekeepers at the Holiday Inn in Minneapolis.

Not since we were literally able to save Chris Donahue's life on last year's show (by humiliating his HMO, Humana, into paying for his transplant operation) have I felt as satisfied by something we've done for the series. So, I really don't want you to miss this episode!

Please make a note, now, and send this e-mail to your friends and family: "The Awful Truth," Wednesday, June 7, at 10pm ET/PT, on Bravo (in Britain, the show is on tonight, Tuesday, Channel 4, sometime after 11pm).

The 8 housekeepers, mostly women, were able to organize a union at this Holiday Inn. It was one of the rare instances in this country when minimum wage workers have been able to organize successfully. To retaliate, the Holiday Inn called the INS to have them arrested (years ago, they had each entered the U.S. "illegally" to escape the poverty of Mexico). The INS raided the hotel and took them away. In doing so, the INS broke the law, as the INS cannot be used to bust a union. Days before the Mexicans were to be deported, we went to Minneapolis to join with some good people there and stop this injustice.

And, being who we are, never wanting to miss the opportunity for a good laugh, we set about to bust the Holiday Inn, investigating every which way THEY may be breaking the law -- and giving them a taste of their own medicine.

Remember "Payback Night" on "TV Nation"? We did a number of things that night to give it back to the Big Boys -- like set off a dozen car alarms outside the bedroom window of the CEO of America's largest car alarm company. Or taking a garbage truck and banging a dumpster up and down at 2 in the morning outside the home of the top guy at New Jersey's number one garbage company. Yes, that was fun -- and cathartic -- but, if I may, without disparaging the memory of the late, great "TV Nation," here you have the difference between that show and what we are doing now. On "The Awful Truth," we have upped the ante -- this time, the payback is to right a wrong (a wrong greater than ol' Mike not being able to get a good night's sleep!). We take our cameras into the belly of the beast of an American icon, Holiday Inn (only to find out that it is now owned by the British! -- and they have the audacity to use OUR INS to kick OTHER foreigners out of our country! Absolutely unbelievable!!).

This feels a little awkward and I'm sorry I sound so overwhelmingly proud of our show this season, but I don't know any other way to put it -- and I don't want anyone to miss it. The episodes over the next few weeks just keep getting better. We are pre-empted next week, but on June 21, we are airing our half-hour special on the Ficus plant we are running for U.S. Congress in the 11th District of New Jersey. The election is today (Tuesday), so if you live in New Jersey, go to the polls and write in "Ficus" (other Ficuses are also running around the country, and if you have a primary today, you know what to do -- a potted plant can do no worse than what we've got now in Washington, DC!

Also, on this week's show, we send Sal, our bill collector, to BMW to demand compensation for the Holocaust survivors the auto company used as slave laborers during World War II. And our theme is "German Vacation Night," where we celebrate the fact that the Germans now work 300 hours LESS each year than the average American worker -- AND get at least 6 weeks PAID vacation, be they a 20-year old waitress or a vice-president of Daimler-Chrysler! It's a wonderful life.

On my desk, in a small black frame, sits the ticket my great-grandmother used to sail from Cork, Ireland, to America in 1872. The stories have been passed down through the family of the struggle she and her two sisters endured to get to America -- the incredible poverty they suffered in Ireland, how they and their future husbands ended up coming to the U.S. and working in the filthiest, hardest jobs, from scrubbing floors as maids, to laying rails from Port Huron to Chicago. I would not be here today if it weren't for them, and it has never been lost on me that we are -- with the exception of our Native Americans and our black brothers and sisters whose ancestors arrived as slaves -- a nation of immigrants. Most of us have a similar story to tell.

To me, it would be a dishonor to my great-grandparents if I turned my back on today's immigrants, the ones who come here now to scrub our floors, pick up after us, and harvest our food. I honestly don't care how the 8 Mexican housekeepers in Minneapolis got here; I do care that they took a great personal risk in forming that union -- something that made life better for the AMERICANS who worked at that Holiday Inn. They should be thanked and rewarded, not handcuffed and led away like so much chattel.

I'm happy my parents told me the stories of the Moores of Dublin and the Walls of Tipperary and the Connors of Cork and the Hogans of Waterford. Next week, my sisters and I will celebrate our parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We are truly blessed to have been raised by these two incredible people. They met at a basketball game in 1948, where my dad played on a factory league team organized by AC Spark Plug. Their first date was a movie at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint. In addition to the roof over our heads, they gave us kids some invaluable lessons about how we should treat others. None of us ended up having to scrub other people's floors or do other people's laundry for tonight's supper -- and none of us will live our lives content at the expense of those who now seek the same thing Mary, Anne and Kitty Hogan did way back when.

That boat ticket from Cork cost a whopping $72!

Michael Moore

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