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FILM: Local Organizations Team up to Show "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience"

East Michigan Environmental Action Council - Mon, 08/19/2030 - 8:02pm
What: Film screening of "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience" with Question and Answer session to follow afterwards

When: September 6th, 2013

Time: 8PM

Where: Cass Corridor Commons
             4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

East Michigan Environmental Action Council, 5E, Heru, and the American Indian Health and Family Services invite you to the film screening of, Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience, on September 6th, 2013. The showing will take place in the D. Blair Theater of The Cass Corridor Commons.

Focusing on the lives and experiences of the Native/Indigenous community in the Midwest, Our Fires Still Burn is a one hour documentary that works to dispel the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the United States. The narrative that Native and Indigenous peoples no longer exist in the US has been perpetrated in many forms since the beginning of colonization in the US, with perhaps the most famous example being the book (and movie), The Last of the Mohicans. The narrative usually argues something along the lines that because Native peoples are now dead (or are actively dying), we need non-Native peoples to "save and recover" (read; loot) Native artifacts (very often including actual bones of human beings). Another strand of the narrative argues that names like Washington Red Skins are actually compliments that honor long dead tribes rather than the offensive insults that Native/Indigenous peoples say they are.

Our Fires Still Burns argues that the narrative that Native/Indigenous peoples are dead is harmful in that it invisibilizes and makes unnecessary the voices of the very much alive Native/Indigenous community. But as Our Fire Still Burns shows, Native and Indigenous peoples continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society.

The film viewing of Our Fires Still Burn will appeal to native and non-Native alike, and will be followed by a question and answer session featuring many of the people appearing in the film, as well as film director Audrey Geyer.  Ms. Geyer is an independent video producer and director whose programs have been broadcasted locally and nationally on PBS. She is the founder and current executive director of Visions, an independent video production company local in Metro Detroit. Visions work focuses on creating documentaries that tell the stories of communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media.

As East Michigan Environmental Action Council co-director, Diana Copeland says, the most important thing to do right now in light of various attacks on marginalized communities in Detroit is to build community responses to those attacks, "Conversations that happen where we can begin to get to know each other are essential and will only make our communities stronger."
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

HCHR Campaign Statement: Staying on Course toward Universal Healthcare

VWC - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 5:11pm

This statement is issued in response to recent news reports that some lawmakers are "considering alternatives" to implementing the universal healthcare law in Vermont.

Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign
Statement on Staying on Course toward Universal Healthcare

Vermont can and must stay on course to universal, publicly financed healthcare. In 2011 our state enacted Act 48, the country’s first universal healthcare law, based on the express will of the people of Vermont. After decades of piecemeal reforms, the healthcare crisis cost too many people their health, their dignity, and their financial security. In an unprecedented spirit of unity around the principle that healthcare is a human right – not a privilege or a commodity – the people, our legislators and our governor came together and committed to establishing a universal, publicly financed healthcare system. They agreed for Green Mountain Care to provide healthcare as a public good to all, in order to ensure that every resident gets the care they need, when they need it.

Today, the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, a statewide grassroots movement spearheaded by the Vermont Workers’ Center, asks our elected representatives to take concrete steps toward a universal healthcare system that is publicly financed through equitable taxes and fully meets our communities’ healthcare needs.

“We urge our representatives to do the right thing and stay on the course that Act 48 lays out, so we can finally ensure our human right to healthcare in Vermont,” said Mary Gerisch, president of the Vermont Worker’s Center. “We know that legislators are under a lot of pressure from those with vested interests in the market-based system, but we need them to stay firm and say no to diversions that will get us stuck with the unjust and unsustainable healthcare mess we have now.”

It is time to move beyond the Affordable Care Act and a market-based insurance system that treats healthcare as a commodity, not a right. All over the country, people and policymakers are realizing that reform efforts are doomed to failure as long as private insurance corporations stand between the people and their doctors and make access to quality care unaffordable for anyone but the wealthy. The eyes of the country are on Vermont, which can lead the way to universal, publicly financed healthcare in the United States.

This legislative session Vermont has the opportunity to move forward on the path to universal healthcare, guided by the human rights principles in Act 48. Last week, after the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign’s day of action at the Statehouse, the House Healthcare Committee took a step in the right direction by passing S.252 with important improvements proposed by the campaign.

This is the time to commit to a financing plan based on the principle of equity, which requires progressive tax-based financing so that everyone contributes according to their ability. It is time to commit to a truly universal system that puts people’s health needs first, leaves no one out, and is sufficiently funded to meet all our healthcare needs. The people of Vermont cannot wait any longer for a strong healthcare system that protects everyone’s health.  

The Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign calls on all elected officials to keep their eyes on the prize of universal, publicly financed healthcare. We are joining with other universal and single payer healthcare advocates to ensure that our democracy works for the people of Vermont and makes our human right to healthcare a reality. We stand united in the struggle for universal healthcare.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

You are Invited! Accountablity Meeting on DPS Reform: April 22

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 4:14pm

You are invited to the release of

the 3rd Annual Report Card on Denver Public Schools' Discipline Reform Efforts.

 

In a democracy, we must hold elected and appointed officials accountable to their commitments. Padres & Jovenes Unidos worked to win and implement new DPS discipline policies, the Smart School Discipline Law, and the Intergovernmental Agreement, now it's time to see what was done right.

Thu, 04/17/2014 Update

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

One Year After Rana Plaza Collapse, AU Could Stand for Worker Safety

USAS - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 3:20pm

The one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse is one week away, and 16 universities across the US have already required their apparel brands — including notorious worker rights abuser VF Corporation — to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a legally-binding contract between unions and brands designed to end deathtrap factory conditions. However, American University continues to refuse to do the right thing to guarantee worker safety and require our brands to sign the Accord.

Stand with Bangladeshi workers: use the form on the left to send a message to the president of American University, who needs a little extra push from people like you to do the right thing for worker safety.

Since last fall, the AU End Deathtraps Coalition has been campaigning hard to get President Kerwin to require brands to sign the Accord. We have collected over 500 petition signatures from AU students, faculty, alumni, and community members and kept the university aware of our actions through a variety of letter deliveries and actions. After holding a well-attended Bangladeshi Worker Speak-Out in which organizer Kalpona Akter and Rana Plaza survivor Reba Sikder spoke about their experiences, we were allowed to make a presentation to our university’s Committee on Socially Responsible Business Practices at the beginning of March.

It has been over a month since our presentation and despite a positive recommendation from the committee and assurances from the president’s office that things are “moving in a positive direction,” the administration seems determined to stall, even after we were informed that a decision would be made last Friday. This is unacceptable. Our coalition has sent a letter to President Kerwin demanding a decision by April 24th, the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse and so far, have received no response.

We’ve been told by a variety of sources that our administration is leaning towards doing the right thing, but the continued lack of communication means that we must take action to push President Kerwin to make AU join the 16 other universities who have already required their brands to sign the Accord. Our USAS local will be taking action on our campus, but we need your help to put pressure on President Kerwin and show our university that this is a cause with widespread support.

Can we count on your support? Send an email to the President Kerwin letting him know that now is the time to stand up for worker safety in Bangladesh.

We think that AU joining the ranks of colleges standing up for worker safety would be the perfect way to remember the tragedy at Rana Plaza. We believe that with students fighting for justice on their campuses and Bangladeshi workers protesting in the streets of Dhaka, we will beat VF Corporation and other companies who have refused to take responsibility for worker safety.

In solidarity,

Katie Plank
Student Worker Alliance
USAS Local #34, American University

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

On One Year Anniversary of Rana Plaza Collapse, Students And Workers Call For Action

USAS - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:06pm

By Karen Li and Allison Considine, Cornell University

Just last year, the world was reminded of the fault lines in the garment industry when Rana Plaza, an eight-story building outside Dhaka collapsed, leaving over 1100 workers dead and their families emotionally and financially devastated. Now, a year after the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, major American companies such as VF Corporation are still evading legal and moral responsibility to the workers that sew their apparel in Bangladesh. The disaster sparked a call from students and workers for justice. Now, more than ever, companies must bargain with workers who are organizing to form unions over their working conditions. Instead of owning up to this responsibility to their workers, VF Corporation has fabricated a series of lies and misinformation, attempting to deceive our administrators and the public about its actions in Bangladesh.

On Thursday, April 24th, the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, students and workers around the world will be taking action as part of a coordinated campaign to call for universities to cut ties with VF Corporation brands (Jansport, VF Imagewear, etc) over the company’s refusal to sign the Accord on Bangladesh and Fire and Building Safety, a legally-binding agreement between brands and worker representatives – now signed by more than 150 brands and retailers – that holds the promise of bringing an end to the mass fatality disasters in Bangladesh garment factories. Workers in Bangladesh are escalating the pressure and organizing a series of demonstrations across factories, demanding for VF to join the 150 companies that have signed the Accord.

Across college campuses, students are calling on their administrators to take a lead in upholding workers rights by cutting all VF Corporation products and its subsidiaries, including VF Imagewear and JanSport. After a year of escalated pressure on VF, the company still refuses to accept real responsibility – instead, opting join the “Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety,” a non binding program between companies with no meaningful participation from workers on fire and building safety.

On campus, students will be holding vigils, rallies, and other escalated actions to call on their administrators to cut ties with VF Corporation. Just yesterday 18 students at USC occupied their president’s office to cut the university’s contract with JanSport. Stay tuned for updates from all the actions across the country.

Off campus, community members and unions will be standing in solidarity with Bangladeshi workers in another important struggle to win compensation for Rana Plaza victims from Children’s Place and Walmart, two companies that we found to be producing at Rana Plaza the day of the collapse.

As workers continue to work in unsafe factories on the verge of collapse, now, more than ever, fundamental workers rights must be upheld for workers to deny unsafe work and bargain with companies over these working conditions. This responsibility from companies like VF is long overdue, and workers around the world are calling on students to join them in this fight.

Contact USAS at email hidden; JavaScript is required /* */ if you want help putting an action together on your campus to call on the university to cut ties with VF Corporation.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

USC Students Occupy President’s Office to Cut Ties With Jansport/VF Corporation

USAS - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:01pm

By Sarah Newell, USC Student

Moments ago, 18 students, including me, occupied University of Southern California President Max Nikias’ office, demanding that he cut our university’s contract with JanSport over worker deaths caused by their parent company VF Corporation. Students at USC have been campaigning for more than eight months, but our administration has let us know that the lives of Bangladeshi workers are not their priority. President Nikias hasn’t even acknowledged our demands with so much as an email. Now, we’re sending him a message he can’t ignore, and we need your support

Call Max Nikias right now at (213) 740-2111 and demand that he listen to the students in his office and cut USC’s contract with JanSport now. Eight months is too long to wait for justice.

We’ve run a long campaign, delivering countless letters, sitting in hours of frustrating meetings with administrators, holding a candlelight vigil, doing actions at our bookstore and campus center, and even bringing two Bangladeshi garment workers to campus to tell their stories. Despite all of this, our administrators have issued a firm NO to cutting USC’s contract with JanSport.

In their initial inspection of a collegiate VF Corporation factory called Optimum Fashions, the Worker Rights Consortium identified “numerous serious fire safety hazards at this facility, including inadequate means for workers to escape the factory in the event of a fire, insufficient emergency lighting, structural flaws that would cause deadly smoke to propagate throughout the factory if a fire occurs, and other safety violations that could lead to injury or death.” In a followup inspection conducted in February, more than 4 months after VF had been provided with a detailed corrective action plan, the WRC determined that “the factory is even more dangerous than when the WRC first inspected it.” As a proud Trojan, I’m ashamed that my school is allowing VF Corporation to profit off the Trojan name through USC’s contract with JanSport.

If you can get through to President Nikias, great – if not, leave a message on his voicemail or with whoever answers. Here’s a sample message:

“Hi, my name is _________, and I’m calling to support students from the USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation who are in President Nikias’s office right now. It’s shocking to me that in the face of overwhelming student support, USC still refuses to cut ties with JanSport, a brand owned by notorious worker rights abuser VF Corporation. USC should take a stand for human rights and worker safety by immediately cutting ties with JanSport.

We’re prepared to stay here as long as it takes. Can we count on your support? Call President Nikias at (213) 740-2111 and tell him that you stand with the students calling for an end to VF deathtraps.

In solidarity,

Sarah Newell
Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation
USAS Local #13

P.S. Follow the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation on Facebook for live updates from the sit-in!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Immigration Reform Continues Border Militarization

By Crystal Contreras

This past March, 150 undocumented people from all over the United States participated in a mass border crossing; an act of civil disobedience which was meant to counteract the record deportations that have been happening under the Obama Administration. The events took place at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California, bringing the treatment of our fellow human beings to the front and center of the immigration conversation. The actions couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time, especially when you consider that nearby just weeks before, a man was killed in a show of excessive force after he threw rocks at a Border Patrol agent.

Since 2010, ten people have been killed for throwing rocks, and Border Patrol is being allowed to continue this practice unabated. And with the recent immigration reform bill outlining significant increases in surveillance and security equipment, one can only expect deaths by excessive force to continue.

The area between San Diego’s main ports of entry is slated to receive a private contractor Christmas list of high-tech devices meant to wrangle, harass, and terrorize people attempting to cross into the United States. It would seem that corporate lobbying dollars are paying off, because if the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization act (immigration reform) passes in its current incarnation, this less than six mile strip of land will receive:

“3 integrated fixed towers. 41 fixed camera systems (with relocation capability) which include Remote Video Surveillance Systems. 14 mobile surveillance systems, which include mobile video surveillance systems, and mobile surveillance capability systems. 393 unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging and infrared. 83 handheld equipment devices, including handheld thermal imaging systems and night vision goggles.”

The companies furnishing this gadgetry include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and IBM, who in 2012 received a combined total of $242 million in U.S. Customs and Border Protection contracts. Also profiting are companies like GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and G4S, who make their taxpayer-funded revenue by providing inmate transportation services and incarceration facilities.

The immigration reform bill calls for similar security measures at other ports of entry throughout the Southwest, which only forces people to take riskier measures in order to cross, subjecting themselves to perils such as human trafficking, robbery, and death by exposure. Even though for now it seems this legislation will not become law, once it does it will contain major security provisions, whether or not it’s passed comprehensively or in piecemeal form.

In what was perhaps a thoughtful gesture to the future generation, in early February agents near San Diego held an event where they taught children to shoot paintball guns at targets resembling migrants. Activities like this only normalize brutal tactics done in the name of “public safety,” But with every new death we are reminded that public safety more and more means protecting our communities from the dangers of law enforcement.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Video: May 1st march & rally for health and dignity!

VWC - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:30pm

See you there on May 1st! For more info, go to www.workerscenter.org/mayday

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

New York Drops Unit That Spied on Muslims

NNIRR - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Matt Appuzo and Joseph Goldstein Story Publisher:  New York Times

The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said.

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

In Response to Disbanding of NYPD “Demographics Unit”, Communities Acknowledge Symbolic Step, but Await Real Change

NNIRR - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Press Release Story Author:  Fahd Ahmed Story Publisher:  DRUM: South Asian Organizing Center

The Demographics Unit mapped every aspect of the lives of NYC Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian Communities, but questions about the actual practices still remain

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

How U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize the Nation’s Wealthiest Family

JwJ Blog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 5:06pm

A new report released by Americans for Tax Fairness reveals the true costs everyday consumers pay for Walmart’s low prices. The company, and specifically the several Walton family members who control it, receive an estimated $7.8 billion per year in tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies.

The Waltons are the wealthiest family in the United States and control a majority of shares in Walmart. Six members of the family are among the 85 wealthiest individuals in the world, a group whose wealth is greater than half of the world’s population. Walmart is also among the largest and most profitable companies on the planet, with $16 billion in profits last year alone.

Despite this extreme prosperity, the company refuses to pay decent wages to its employees, and many are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid. A previous study showed that a single Walmart can cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee for these programs.

This latest report expands on that research to include other hidden costs to taxpayers courtesy of the nation’s wealthiest family, including schemes to avoid paying an estimated $3 billion in taxes. The executive summary highlights examples totaling $7.8 billion in subsidies from American taxpayers:

Walmart receives an estimated $6.2 billion annually in mostly federal taxpayer subsidies. The reason: Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, healthcare and other taxpayer-funded programs.

Walmart avoids an estimated $1 billion in federal taxes each year. The reason: Walmart uses tax breaks and loopholes, including a strategy known as accelerated depreciation that allows it to write off capital investments considerably faster than the assets actually wear out.

The Waltons avoid an estimated $607 million in federal taxes on their Walmart dividends. The reason: income from investments is taxed at a much lower tax rate than income from salaries and wages.”

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the report is how much the company costs taxpayers in public assistance for Walmart employees, broken down state by state. Texas taxpayers pay the most, at an estimated $682 million each year for the state’s 154,471 Walmart associates. Washington, D.C., having successfully prevented four of six planned stores from opening, pays the least at an appreciable $2.6 million for only 600 employees.

Estimated Annual Cost of $6.2 Billion in Public Assistance for Walmart Employees, by State

State Number of Walmart Employees Estimated Cost of Public Assistance for Walmart Employees (Millions) Alabama 35,016 $154.6 Alaska 3,454 $15.2 Arizona 32,438 $143.2 Arkansas 38,901 $171.8 California 80,460 $355.2 Colorado 26,325 $116.2 Connecticut 9,289 $41.0 Delaware 4,423 $19.5 Florida 97,222 $429.2 Georgia 53,168 $234.7 Hawaii 4,020 $17.7 Idaho 7,026 $31.0 Illinois 50,341 $222.3 Indiana 36,923 $163.0 Iowa 16,557 $73.1 Kansas 19,937 $88.0 Kentucky 28,454 $125.6 Louisiana 33,621 $148.4 Maine 7,436 $32.8 Maryland 18,573 $82.0 Massachusetts 12,252 $54.1 Michigan 31,076 $137.2 Minnesota 20,997 $92.7 Mississippi 22,321 $98.5 Missouri 40,374 $178.3 Montana 5,096 $22.5 Nebraska 11,207 $49.5 Nevada 14,251 $62.9 New Hampshire 7,839 $34.6 New Jersey 18,593 $82.1 New Mexico 14,322 $63.2 New York 37,034 $163.5 North Carolina 52,459 $231.6 North Dakota 4,396 $19.4 Ohio 49,716 $219.5 Oklahoma 31,692 $139.9 Oregon 11,482 $50.7 Pennsylvania 48,871 $215.8 Puerto Rico 14,552 $64.2 Rhode Island 2,493 $11.0 South Carolina 28,662 $126.5 South Dakota 4,808 $21.2 Tennessee 38,470 $169.8 Texas 154,471 $682.0 Utah 16,422 $72.5 Vermont 911 $ 4.0 Virginia 41,950 $185.2 Washington 19,350 $85.4 Washington, DC 600 $ 2.6 West Virginia 11,959 $52.8 Wisconsin 28,641 $126.5 Wyoming 4,574 $20.2

OUR Walmart, the organization of current and former employees calling for higher wages and better working conditions at Walmart, has organized widespread strikes and protests to bring attention to the company’s reliance on taxpayer programs to subsidize labor costs. Indeed, many members of OUR Walmart have questioned why they must rely on food stamps when they work at the most profitable company in the country. Last year, employees at one store in Canton, Ohio, gained national attention after hosting a holiday canned food drive for each other. Walmart defended its employees for looking out for each other, but as Stephen Colbert pointed out, the company wasn’t much help in actually paying workers enough to make ends meet.

As long as profitable, industry standard–setting employers like Walmart refuse to pay a decent wage, taxpayers will continue to foot the bill. However, two recent victories demonstrate one path to change could come from within the company’s own ranks. More and more low-wage employees are turning to social media to connect with fellow workers and expose abuse at mega retailers. Two recent changes to Walmart’s pregnancy and scheduling policies illustrate that pressure from within could be having an effect. Combined with the outcry of consumers and taxpayers, Walmart may have no choice but to redirect their profits from stock buybacks to the people that stock shelves.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Youth Leaders Attend Their First Direct Action Camp!

SWU - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 2:22pm
A few weeks ago, two SWU youth leaders had the opportunity to participate in the Greenpeace’s Agua Fria Action Camp in Arizona. Action Camp provides a place to learn and share skills that support growing movements, campaigns, and communities working toward a common goal––a just and equitable existence for all. Here’s what our youth had to say on the experience:
Hello, friends! We traveled seventeen hours to the hills of Mayer, Arizona to attend Greenpeace’s Agua Fria direct action camp. It was a long week, filled with learning and enlightenment.
The camp was divided into six different tracks: research, climbing, boating, blockades, air division, and arts. Luckily, we were in the arts track, which was integrated in many of the other tracks as well. We had no idea so many of the unique activities offered could be used as direct action tactics.
In the arts track, we spent the bulk of our time learning how to incorporate art into direct actions as well as learning how to produce quality artwork using different mediums and techniques. Our trainers were basically geniuses in their field and we feel so privileged to have learned and created with them. Here’s a snippet of what we made:


Nearly every night, we were lucky enough to have guests come and speak to us, including indigenous people from different regions and tribes. During these workshops and presentations we learned about theories and work around anti-oppression and decolonization.
One of our favorite things about this camp was the food! As you know, we Texans sure do love our meat, and were not too excited to find out that there would only be vegetarian and vegan foods, but the food was incredible! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND dessert. We never knew vegan food could be so tasty.
The other participants from the camp helped us gain an awareness and appreciation for the environment and others around us. Prior to camp, we separated worker’s rights, environmental justice, and social justice. Now we realize that these things are not separate at all, but are actually vital to each other.
We are excited to bring back these skills and experiences to our community. We miss everyone (and the food) already. We look forward to doing more work with Greenpeace in the future.

––Dorian Angulo & Mina Crawford, Youth Leadership Organization
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Radio: We Must Keep on Track for Healthcare as a Human Right

VWC - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 4:03pm

Listen to the podcast of Equal Time Radio with host Traven Leyshon.

http://www.equaltimeradio.com/2014/we-must-keep-on-organizing-for-health...

Anja Rudiger, of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, works with the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign which in 2011 succeeded in getting a groundbreaking law passed: Act 48, which commits Vermont to creating a healthcare system providing healthcare as a public good and ensuring everyone can get the healthcare they need, when they need it. Anja discusses why it is so important that Vermont continue to lead the way toward creating a publicly and equitably financed universal healthcare system. Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, big business employers, their lobbyists, and politicians in their service are all working hard to prevent universal healthcare from ever happening, so we must keep our eyes on the prize and stay on the road toward healthcare as a human right in Vermont – and nationwide!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Now Trending: Whistleblowers in Low-Wage Jobs Turn to Social Media

JwJ Blog - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:49am
In a new trend, low-wage employees at some of the most profitable companies are turning to social media to expose rampant abuses and violations of labor law.

Walmart associates could see more hours in their future through a new company program called “Access to Open Shifts.” What started as a pilot project in Texas has now been implemented at all 4,000 U.S. stores and will allow employees to sign up for available slots through the company’s internal scheduling system. This recent step in the right direction comes after years of pressure from OUR Walmart, the association of current and former Walmart employees who have demanded more hours and stable work schedules from the retailer. Most recently, OUR Walmart members launched a petition on coworker.org to demand the company stop cutting hours. After nearly 20,000 signatures were collected, Walmart announced the new scheduling program.

While Walmart would never admit to being influenced by activists – even its own employees – the timing of this new program may lend credibility to a rising trend among low-wage workers: if your employer won’t listen, take your cause to the Internet.

Walmart also recently updated its pregnancy policy under pressure from several expecting mothers and women’s rights advocates. As one Maryland mom involved in the activism explains, the women connected with each other over Facebook and formed the “Respect the Bump” campaign from there:

“Respect the Bump started with one of the five workers from California named Girshriela. She actually starting posting things [online] and wanted to know concerns about pregnant women at Wal-Mart… [We] communicated from then on out, like, ‘What could we do to change things?’ So … other pregnant women didn’t have to go through these things that I did.”

In fact, since its founding, OUR Walmart has largely depended on social media to swell its ranks. Members connect to fellow employees through Facebook, start conversations about the situation at each other’s stores, share horror stories, and eventually, many workers join the organization.

OUR Walmart illustrates the events leading up to Walmart’s announcement of a new scheduling system for associates.

But Walmart employees aren’t the only ones turning to the Internet to be heard.

Across the retail sector, hourly workers and even salaried managers are reaching out to journalists through anonymous emails in order to get their stories published to a wider audience. Gawker has recently featured two different series based on emails from whistleblowers at retailers – one highlighting the familiar horror stories from employees at Walmart and another series from employees at Target experiencing nearly identical abuses. OUR Walmart even set up its own site for gathering complaints and has received messages from workers at nearly three out of every four Walmart stores in the country. Other whistleblowers, such as these two former McDonald’s managers – whose jobs are no longer at stake – granted interviews to journalists after first sharing their stories online.

These stories share a few common refrains. Most obviously, workers at these extremely profitable companies simply aren’t paid enough to make ends meet. At Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, a “full-time” associate (defined as 34 hours per week) earns an average wage of $8.81/hour (or just $15,500 per year), placing them well below the federal poverty line. With such low wages, many Walmart employees are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid. One study showed a single 300-employee Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin may cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee.

While finding other employment opportunities remains a myth, many of these low-wage workers end up stuck – unable to quit and with no genuine opportunity to advance. As one Target employee wrote to Gawker:

I would like to go to college, but I honestly cannot afford it because I need to work as much as possible to just make ends meet.

Another recurring complaint is the abusive scheduling practices used by these employers: many workers want to work full-time but are only given part-time schedules. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly eight million Americans are involuntarily working part-time, an 80 percent increase since 2006. Without adequate hours to earn a living, it’s no surprise that one in four involuntary part-time workers lives in poverty.

Moreover, many low-wage employers put workers at the whim of irregular and constantly changing schedules. In a study of 17 major corporations, only three gave more than one week’s notice of schedules. Given too few hours on too short notice, it’s next to impossible for employees to get a second job, let alone schedule medical appointments or arrange for care for their loved ones. Often, the flexibility demanded of employees is not reciprocated by the employer. One woman, who claims she was hired by Target after being assured she could leave work to take care of her family at times, said the reality was far different once the job started:

“When I did have to leave work to pick up a sick child, or miss a shift to stay home with a sick child, I was treated horribly by management.”

Why have so many people taken their case to the Internet? For one thing, there is protection in anonymity. With so many workers facing retaliation for speaking out, it’s clear that standing up for your basic rights can put your livelihood at risk. While many workers recognize that forming a union could improve their situation, they fear the risk of retaliation from radically anti-union employers. As one assistant store manager claimed, “Target would close a store that voted in a union and reopen another one.” This could be the chilling effect of Target’s successful unionbusting efforts, but in Walmart’s case, it’s no idle threat. The NLRB has even brought a case against Walmart alleging illegal retaliation. Unfortunately, under our current broken labor law, toothless penalties rarely dissuade employers from unionbusting, and companies are even incentivized to violate the law with a myriad of methods to prevent workers from exercising their rights.

Perhaps the best explanation for this new trend is simpler: it works. As social media and other online platforms make it easier than ever to access information, and each other, it will be harder and harder for employers to prevent the connections and conversations that bring workers together under a shared purpose. And as more companies respond to online pressure, more workers may come forward to expose abuse and come together to demand change.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Important First Steps in Tackling the Long-Term Care Crisis

JwJ Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 9:50am

The number of Americans needing long-term care in the United States is expected to more than double from 12 million today to 27 million by 2050. Someone turns 65 every eight seconds, and more than 70 percent of seniors will need care at some point in their lives for an average of three years each. As a nation, we simply don’t have the capacity to provide that kind of care under our current system. 

Ultimately, we need federal reforms to build out the infrastructure of our long-term care system and ensure that people can age in our country without the fear of going bankrupt or having to make huge sacrifices for their families. But at the state level, policymakers and organizations representing care workers and consumers are already leading the way in developing plans to ensure aging residents and their caregivers receive all the care and support they need. They’re experimenting with community-based care, job training for care workers, and everything in between. To support their efforts, Caring Across Generations is working with Congress on a plan that will ensure states have the resources to pilot these programs and to develop innovative ways to let their residents age with dignity, independence and choice, including supporting the workers who provide this care.

Last week, Caring Across coalition members, including Jobs With Justice affiliates in Chicago, Maine, Vermont, Missouri and Colorado, came to Washington, D.C., to lobby and testify before Congress about the work their states are doing to provide quality, affordable long-term care to their aging populations.

Caring Across Generations is laying the groundwork to introduce federal legislation to support this kind of state innovation fund, but we need your help to bring this plan to Congress. Show your support by signing this petition now!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Napolitano: Drop the Charges Against Peaceful Picketers

USAS - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:03pm

Last week during a peaceful picket line at the University of California Santa Cruz, riot police tackled a union leader and photographer, and arrested 22 students and union members. On April 2nd and 3rd, members of UAW 2865, the union that represents Teaching Assistants at nine UC campuses went on strike to stand up for their rights and to protest a pattern of intimidation and harassment of campus workers. The UC proved it will do whatever is necessary to prevent student-workers from exercising their right to lawfully picket as part of a strike against UC’s unfair labor practices.

Send a message to President Janet Napolitano and Chancellor Alison Galloway: drop the charges and settle a fair contract for UC Teaching Assistants!

Riot police were brought in from UC Berkeley prior to the strike. The Berkeley police are known for their willingness to physically assault both students and faculty at peaceful demonstrations. Wearing riot helmets, and resting their hands on their weapons, police used conflicting messages to create confusion about what demonstrators could do to avoid arrest. A union leader was specifically targeted after communicating to administrators that the picket was about to begin. He introduced himself to Executive Vice Chancellor Galloway, and informed her that he was going to be exercising his right to picket, but that he would not be standing in front of cars or blocking traffic. Shortly after this encounter, he was tackled to the ground by police and arrested, along with a photographer who was documenting the incident.

Tell President Napolitano and Chancellor Galloway to stop the intimidation of organized labor by the UC and drop the charges against peaceful protestors.

This isn’t the first time the UC has used intimidation to suppress organizing. UC admin have threatened the visa status of international students who participate in union activities, and have threatened to withhold future employment if union members participated in a legally sanctioned strike. It’s time for the UC to stop the intimidation of union members and come back to the bargaining table to settle a fair contract.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Leaders Press Illinois Congressman on TPP, Fast Track

UE - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:41am
08 April, 2014Chicago UE leaders met with Congressman Mike Quigley. Left to right, Armando Robles, Cliff Hall, Quigley, Carl Rosen, Leah Fried. Chicago

A UE delegation met on March 31 with Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and legislation “Fast Track” trade authority to the president. The UE group included Western Region President Carl Rosen, Local 151 President Cliff Hall, Local 1110 President Armando Robles, and International Representative Leah Fried. They met with Rep. Quigley and his District Director Mary Ann Levar.

Carl Rosen began by expressing UE’s concern that Quigley has not come out against the TPP or Fast Track, which continue and double down on failed economic policies that have worsened the economic inequality in this country and in the world.  Rosen urged Quigley to join the rest of the Illinois Democrats in Congress by publically opposing both measures.

The congressman responed that President Obama had personally asked him to wait to make a decision on TPP until he reads the language of the agreement. He said that the New Democrat Coalition (a pro-business caucus in Congress of which he’s a member) had been pushing to exclude Japan from TPP and that he had been pushing for more environmental protections.  He said he thought the deal would not come to a vote because the Obama administration was asking for such high standards from the other countries and pushback from those countries, specifically Vietnam and Japan, adding that he has faith in the president to do the right thing.  

Cliff Hall said that his plant, Aetna Bearing, located in the Quigley’s congressional district, had over 300 workers when he began working there, and now employs just 17.  Much of the work was lost under NAFTA, and now to China. He urged that the congressman consider jobs and not support TPP. Armando Robles thanked Congressman Quigley for his support for Republic workers in 2008 and asked that he support workers today by not supporting TPP or Fast Track.

Leah Fried said she lives in Quigley’s district, and added that UE is very concerned that Fast Track strips members of Congress of their ability to influence the trade deal, or even to know what’s in it.  Carl Rosen reminded the congressman that much of TPP had nothing to do with trade, but is rather about increasing the power of multinational corporations.  He urged Quigley to take a stand against Fast Track.

Quigley reiterated that he had made a commitment to Obama and that if the TPP wasn't good enough he wouldn't vote for it.  He said he supported the Korean trade deal because the UAW had not opposed it, and that he voted against the Colombia trade agreement because it wasn't a good deal. He said he didn't want to come out against TPP because he feels he now has “a seat at the table” and an opportunity to influence the negotiations. He told the UE delegation that he would share the letters he sent the President on the TPP and asked UE to stay in touch with him on the issue.

At its January meeting the UE General Executive Board issued a statement opposing Fast Track and TPP, consistent with UE’s longstanding opposition to so-called “free trade”, and urging members and locals to get involved in the fight against these measures.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Welcome Local and National Allies!

East Michigan Environmental Action Council - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 3:32pm
Welcome national and local allies!!!We are excited to host the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance's membership assembly from April 10-13 at the Cass Corridor Commons.  It is not too late for you to learn about and contribute to this exciting event. 

While our allies are here, we are hosting a couple of additional events aimed at bringing together local and national allies, friends, supporters and neighbors.  Please mark your calendars!Panel Discussion: Envisioning a Just Transition in the 21st Century REVISED 4/9/14 at 5:04pm
Movement-building organizers and activists from Detroit will engage GGJ members and friends in an intergenerational conversation about Detroit's history, the current crises facing the city, and how local organizers are using the frame of a Just Transition to build a stronger and more resilient city. Panel participants will share how their work challenges existing inequities and issues, while offering new solutions and building community resilience. Confirmed panelists include: Rhonda Anderson (Community activist and Sierra Club Detroit), Shane Bernardo (Earthworks Urban Garden), Antonio Cosme (Graffiti artist, gardener, activist, organizer), Kezia Curtis (Fender Bender Detroit), Vincent Martin (Community resident and activist), and Reverend Joan Ross (North End Woodward Community Coalition). National and international respondents will comment on what they will have heard and draw connections with national and international work and movements. EMEAC Co-Director Ife Kilimanjaro will serve as moderator. 
Date: Friday April 11
Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Location: Cass Corridor Commons Sanctuary, 4605 Cass Ave. (Please enter through the parking lot off Forest)
Agenda:
  6:30pm  Welcome
  6:35pm  Moderator's comments/opening
  6:45pm  Panelist's presentations
  7:25pm  Response by national and international allies
  7:30pm  Question/Answer
  7:55pm  Closing remarks

Just Transition is a broad frame that outlines our commitment in practice to co-create the transition from a polluting, resource-intensive, extractive/exploitive economy to clean, sustainable ones. It encompasses our commitment and efforts to lift up and contribute to building local, living economies that foster community resilience and bring about lasting change. We've adopted this Just Transition frame and practice because history and experience have taught us that rather than investing the overwhelming majority of time in putting out fires--that is, reactively addressing injustices as they arise--we must shift our work to be proactive in co-creating the world we want and need. 
Fundraising Social Gathering and PartyJoin us at the D. Blair Theater for some powerful sounds of local hip hop artists and poets.  This will be a dope fundraiser...so join us!!!
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Immigrant Rights Activists Fight to Keep Families Together, Demand Justice for All

Story by Pete Shaw

As President Obama edges closer toward deporting 2 million people during his time in office–he will likely hit that mark in April–people without documentation, their families, and their communities have decided to take him on head first. One of the most interesting tactics has been the Bring Them Home campaign which uses unjust US immigration laws to fuel greater justice for immigrants.

From March 10 to 17, over 150 people without documentation voluntarily crossed the Mexico-US border from Tijuana, Mexico and voluntarily turned themselves into border patrol agents at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. From there they were taken by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and placed in detention.

The tactic appears to be a counterintuitive way to force change on the system; it simply does not seem logical to fight deportations by getting people into the system where the end result is often deportation. Nevertheless, these actions–this is the third Bring Them Home event since the campaign began in 2013–are part of an organized and well-coordinated movement fueled by the Dream Activists, a group of young people without documentation who refuse to accept President Obama’s enforcement of immigration laws.

The activists reject the current debate surrounding immigration reform–which really only focuses on people from Mexico and Central and South America while ignoring white skinned immigrants without documentation–that has resulted in bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives that at best would provide US businesses with a cheap, indentured workforce and at worst, in the case of the House bill, would focus on punishing immigrants and strengthening border security.

Photo by Doug Yarrow

At a Portland training in late March, Sindy Avila and Liliana Luna–both  Oregon Dream Activists who were at the most recent Bring Them Home event–emphasized the importance of direct action as a response to repressive government action. “This campaign is a reaction to the crisis of mass deportations and the crisis of borders,” Avila told the crowd of 70 mostly Spanish speaking people. “We are saying to the politicians, ‘You have to respond to this situation.’ We are going to protect our communities. These actions are necessary because the government isn’t protecting us.”

“We are not going to wait for the government to tell us when we can reunite with our loved ones who have been deported,” Luna said.

Photo by Liliana Luna

In 2008, the Bush Administration and ICE rolled out the Secure Communities program, a partnership between federal, state, and local governments to facilitate the detention and deportation of people without documentation. “Secure for whom?” asked Luna about the program. “Not for us.” The program is based on racist hyperbole, such as that all immigrants are drug dealers or wide-eyed rapists perpetually in the rut. It has resulted in looking at immigrants as either “good immigrants” or “bad immigrants,” instead of as individuals who are members of families, friendships, and communities–as is largely understood in a near-sacred fashion when discussing white citizens (and often white skinned people without documentation) in the US.  This myopic lens plays into the fears of many white Americans who see their relatively privileged position in society falling and find it easier to place blame on other people, rather than the predictable systemic outcomes of capitalism.

Avila and Luna outlined the various ways people can and should resist. These methods pertain to the home–police must identify themselves and show a warrant if they are to enter it; following police reports every step of the way–police have discretion with what they charge a person, and reports sometimes contain inaccuracies; or just knowing some pertinent facts–Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Staton made an agreement with the County not to honor ICE holds under certain conditions, people must work with their families, friends, neighbors, and community members and arm themselves with the necessary knowledge to truly secure their communities.

Avila also said that part of the strategy of the action was that it is easier to stop a deportation than bring people back to the country after they have been deported. During the first Bring Them Home action, 9 people were detained. Subsequently–after a barrage of phone calls from family, friends, and community supporters–all were released and reunited with their families within two weeks. The second Bring Them Home event saw 34 people imprisoned, with 28 of them eventually reuniting with their families. Although the majority of those who crossed during the most recent action remain detained, of the 14 people from the Northwest, only three remain in prison.

Photo by Sandra Paloma

The Obama Administration’s deportation policy has torn apart families and communities, and the bills so far proffered by Congress offer nothing to address this. The members of these families are by and large law abiding citizens who have often made their way to this country because of the devastating economic and political impact of so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA that compel them to leave their homes in search of something better for themselves and their children.  “Regardless of minor offenses,” said Avila, “people wouldn’t and shouldn’t be separated from their families and communities.  But this happens over and over again because of programs like Secure Communities.”

“The goal of this action was to reunite 250 family members,” said Luna. “The immigration system isn’t working. Borders have broken our families and communities. We will not wait for the government to tell us when we can reunite with our loved ones that have been deported. We are taking matters into our own hands.”

Politicians are starting to hear the message. As is typical, at first they claimed their hands were tied: there were laws, and as we are a nation of laws, those laws must be followed. However, when in June 2012 President Obama found himself in a tight campaign against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, he needed to appeal to Latinos to secure their votes. So he issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which relaxed the rules for some people without documentation who met certain requirements. In November 2013 during a speech in San Francisco, a young man without documentation shouted at the president that he had “the power to stop deportations.” Obama replied, “Actually, I don’t.”

Now facing the possibility of the Democrats losing the Senate, Obama is once again finding the rules not so inflexible. On March 13 he called for a review of his administration’s deportation’s policies, saying he felt a “deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system.” While he has yet to offer any concrete solutions, it is a reasonable bet that he will find some in order to secure Latino votes come November.

Photo by Peter Parks

Avila said there was strong media coverage of the border crossings focused on the families ripped apart through deportations, and it is likely not a coincidence that President Obama announced his plan to review his immigration enforcement policies while those crossings were occurring. Prior to the most recent Bring Them Home action, Obama found himself defending against being labeled by many immigrant rights groups as “Deporter in Chief”. He was still on the defensive after his March 13 announcement, as immigrant communities and immigrant rights supporters began wondering why–if he was so deeply concerned about families being separated–families were still being separated.

The pressure did not go away after activists left Otay Mesa. Advocates began calling the ICE prisons where people were detained, demanding their release. Very simply, ICE does not want the attention, and perhaps more accurately, President Obama and the Democrats don’t either. Being the party of the Deporter in Chief and being known as the party that can do something to stop families from being broken apart, but is doing almost nothing, is not a good Election Day image. People who do not like seeing families being torn asunder will vote accordingly.

Ultimately, Bring Them Home is a campaign of public resistance. It brings to light the violence against immigrant communities, whether or not those immigrants are documented. And it creates strong bonds. Avila noted that when she arrived at Otay Mesa, she, like many of her comrades, did not know many of the other people there. “But,” she said, “we left as a community.”

That spirit of  Otay Mesa was on display at the March 28t training. Luna told the 70 people in attendance that their presence meant a greater number of people who can provide support for the struggle and hasten the toppling of these unjust immigration laws. “I’m undocumented,” she said. “I’m not afraid. I go here and there and do what I want because I know all of you will protect me.”

For more information on how to get involved in the immigrant rights movement, and in particular, to help get the remaining people in ICE prisons back to their families, go to: https://www.facebook.com/BringThemHomeOregon

Photo by Peter Parks

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The Moral Monday Movement: Transforming the South

JwJ Blog - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:35am

Fifty-four years after the historic lunch counter sit-ins launched the civil rights era, in which four black students sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter and demanded to be served, North Carolina once again captured the nation’s attention with the launch of the Moral Monday movement last year. The weekly protests targeting state legislators has since spread throughout the south, including Georgia, home of Atlanta Jobs With Justice.

To find out how Moral Monday has spread so successfully, I sat down with Neil Sardana, an organizer with Atlanta Jobs With Justice, to get his take on this growing movement. Check out my email interview with Neil, and if you live in Georgia, be sure to RSVP for tonight’s demonstration.

JW: The Moral Monday protests began in North Carolina last year. How did the demonstrations start and who started them?

NS: As far as I know, Moral Monday started in North Carolina as a result of years of building and planning led by the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ). HKonJ built deep connections with community and faith-based organizations to address a host of human rights and social justice concerns in North Carolina. The demonstrations effectively launched on February 8 last year when tens of thousands of people marched from Shaw University to the State Capitol in Raleigh. After a successful wave of conservative victories in the 2012 elections, Moral Monday was a response to the resulting all-out right-wing assault on the state’s residents. Conservative lawmakers introduced vicious cuts to policies such as federal unemployment benefits and Medicaid while simultaneously introducing infamous “voter ID” laws to disenfranchise voters.

JW: How did Moral Monday spread to Georgia?

NS: Moral Monday spread to Georgia because there were several of us defending the home of disabled Desert Storm veteran Mark Harris who had been struggling with Fannie Mae to prevent his eviction and keep his home. Community members, including members of Atlanta Jobs With Justice, heard of the Moral Monday effort in North Carolina and discussed the idea of building a similar movement in Georgia while sitting on Mark’s lawn defending his home. We realized that this movement was needed in Georgia, where military veterans and workers like Mark could be laid off from their jobs and evicted from their homes.

These first activists further engaged Atlanta Jobs With Justice and reached out to a variety of community groups, faith organizations and labor unions to begin the conversations and meetings to develop Moral Monday GA. We met for some time to develop a mission and agenda and decided one of the highlight issues was our demand to expand Medicaid in Georgia. These collective planning meetings led us to our first major Moral Monday GA event on the first day of the 2014 Georgia legislative session. Reverend Barber of Moral Monday North Carolina joined us to provide encouragement and support for moving forward together.

JW: Who is involved in Moral Monday in Georgia? What are your demands?

NS: Moral Monday GA is a collective of community organizations, faith-based groups, churches, labor unions, students and individuals. We are young and old; we are black, brown, Asian and white; we are women, men and transgender who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight; we are immigrants and citizens; many of us are unemployed, low-income, uninsured or undocumented. We are from all faiths. We are not Republican or Democrat; instead we are open to all who stand up in our society for what is fair, just and right. We are standing up to politics as usual where those with the most power, influence and money have their way and everyday people are just pushed aside.

We are demanding that Georgia expand Medicaid to provide over 600,000 people in our state with access to health care, which would create over 70,000 jobs. We demand that our state protect the unemployment benefits of hardworking Georgians, including school workers whose benefits are on the chopping block. We demand a repeal of Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law and the enactment of reasonable gun safety provisions. We demand that our voting rights be protected and expanded. We demand that our state raise the minimum wage so that workers don’t have to choose between paying for food, rent or medicine for their families. We demand that immigrants be treated with fairness and respect and that undocumented people be given the right to come out of the shadows. We demand that women and LGBT people be treated with equality, dignity, and respect.

JW: Moral Monday demonstrations have featured several instances of nonviolent civil disobedience resulting in arrest. Why are activists using these tactics?

NS: Moral Monday GA has utilized acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in our movement to fight for what is right and just. The reason we have used these tactics is because as I said before today’s politicians have completely pushed aside everyday people in favor of big business interests who have essentially captured our political system and bent it to their will. We are committed to standing up for everyday citizens and calling on our politicians and leaders to do the same.

Unfortunately, when we make this call to our political leaders, it often falls on deaf ears. During the 2014 state legislative session, Moral Monday GA took 73 arrests as a result of principled nonviolent civil disobedience that included 12 active members of the Atlanta Jobs With Justice coalition. In fact, the overall majority of individuals arrested were from organizations affiliated with Atlanta Jobs With Justice.

To be clear though, our movement doesn’t require that anyone conduct civil disobedience, and we are open to all whether or not they are willing to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. However, with our deep commitment to these issues and towards fighting for what is moral and right, many of us within the Moral Monday movement are more than ready to conduct nonviolent civil disobedience in our efforts.

JW: Is this particularly significant in the south?

NS: Moral Monday is quite significant for the south. This is a movement that has originated in the south and is spreading primarily throughout the south. We are seeing this movement spread from North Carolina to Georgia and further to South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Texas. We are hearing all the time more people from different states being interested in building the Moral Monday movement and spreading it further. I have even heard that some places in the north are doing Moral Monday actions because they have been excited about what is happening here in the south. Lastly, Moral Monday is the largest collective people’s movement built and spread throughout the south since the Civil Rights era. We believe we are seeing history in the making.

JW: What’s next for Atlanta Jobs With Justice?

NS: We will continue to support building Moral Monday GA. Given that our legislative session is only part-time and is now over for this year, we will focus on a broader set of issues through our campaigns, including immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and access to health care, defending the unemployed, and fighting for low-wage workers. And of course, we will continue to raise public awareness regarding the multitude of right-wing bills attacking everyday Georgians that were passed this year and pressure Governor Nathan Deal to veto them.

Neil Sardana, Atlanta Jobs With Justice Organizer. Photo via Facebook.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire
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